A typical Obama interview.
Friday’s Netflix premiere of David Letterman’s interview with former President Barack Obama received negative reviews from the press, with critics calling the host too “fawning” and the overall show “bland” and “lackluster.”
Letterman, who was a staple of late-night television for 33 years with “Late Night” and then “The Late Show,” spoke to Obama for the first episode of a six-part series in which he speaks for an hour with people who he admires.
The Obama interview, conducted at City College in New York City, touched on his post-presidency, Russian election interference, voting rights, race, family, and more.
However, Letterman’s obsequiousness, Obama’s cautious answers—he never directly mentioned Donald Trump—and the fact that the interview was taped last fall made for a tepid viewing experience.
“In basically ignoring the ever looming current President of the United States on another s**tstorm of a day, the pre-taped result from last fall was primarily a warm, fuzzy, and sauntering up on dull chat between two well-spoken men who obviously like and respect each other and didn’t want to cause each other any possible grief,” Deadline‘s Dominic Patten wrote. “This debut episode of ‘My Next Guest’ was not scintillating television by any stretch.”
The Washington Post‘s Hank Stuever panned the interview as “flat,” criticizing Letterman as too much “in thrall” of his guest. Letterman told Obama at one point that he is the only president who he has ever truly respected.
“Both men seem rusty at the art of banter,” Stuever wrote. “They’re off their game. The interview doesn’t produce any surprising or newsworthy statements from Obama.”
The Boston Globe expressed annoyance with the format and said it did “nothing interesting at all.”