David Lettermen’s new show ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman’ premiered on Netflix on January 12, 2018. On the very first episode of ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman’, he was joined by former U.S. President Barack Obama.
The episode had plenty of funny moments, like Obama teasing Letterman about his foot long beard. But they covered substantive political topics, too — not just during the onstage interview, but also in Letterman’s walk across Selma’s famous Edmund Pettus Bridge with Civil Right’s activist and Congressman John Lewis.
From the beginning, Letterman seems to be treating the new show as an opportunity to move away from his usual satirical style and replacing it with more depth and seriousness. He ended the interview by telling Obama, “Without a question of a doubt, you are the first president I really and truly respect.”
On the social media front, Obama noted that he owes much of his own political success to social media, which helped him build “what ended up being the most effective political campaign, probably in modern political history.” So he initially had “a very optimistic feeling” about the technology, but he said, “I think that what we missed was the degree to which people who are in power … special interests, foreign governments, etc., can, in fact, manipulate that and propagandize.”
Obama then described an experiment where a liberal, conservative and a “quote-unquote moderate” were asked to search for “Egypt,” and Google presented each of them with very different results. “For the conservative, it came up Muslim Brotherhood, for the liberal, it came up Tahrir square, and for the moderate, it came up best vacation spots on the Nile.”
“Whatever your biases were, that’s where you were being sent, and that gets more reinforced over time,” he said. “That’s what’s happening with these Facebook pages where more and more people are getting their news from. At a certain point, you just live in a bubble, and that’s part of why our politics is so polarized right now.”
Closer to the end of his interview he did express some optimism for the future: “I think it is a solvable problem, but I think it’s one that we have to spend a lot of time thinking about.”
‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction to David Letterman’ will be back sometime in February with guest George Clooney, followed by Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey, and Howard Stern.