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David Letterman's Opening Monologue
David Letterman Show | 9-19-01 | D. Letterman

Posted on 09/19/2001 1:34:49 PM PDT by PaulJ

David Letterman's remarks on September 17, 2001...

cold opening and applause

Thank you very much.

Welcome to the Late Show. This is our first show on the air since New York and Washington were attacked, and I need to ask your patience and indulgence here because I want to say a few things, and believe me, sadly, I'm not going to be saying anything new, and in the past week others have said what I will be saying here tonight far more eloquently than I'm equipped to do.

But, if we are going to continue to do shows, I just need to hear myself talk for a couple of minutes, and so that's what I'm going to do here.

It's terribly sad here in New York City. We've lost five thousand fellow New Yorkers, and you can feel it. You can feel it. You can see it. It's terribly sad. Terribly, terribly sad. And watching all of this, I wasn't sure that I should be doing a television show, because for twenty years we've been in the city, making fun of everything, making fun of the city, making fun of my hair, making fun of Paul... well...

So, to come to this circumstance that is so desperately sad, I don't trust my judgment in matters like this, but I'll tell you the reason that I am doing a show and the reason I am back to work is because of Mayor Giuliani.

Very early on, after the attack, and how strange does it sound to invoke that phrase, "after the attack?", Mayor Giuliani encouraged us -- and here lately implored us -- to go back to our lives, go on living, continue trying to make New York City the place that it should be. And because of him, I'm here tonight.

And I just want to say one other thing about Mayor Giuliani: As this began, and if you were like me, and in many respects, God, I hope you're not. But in this one small measure, if you're like me, and you're watching and you're confused and depressed and irritated and angry and full of grief, and you don't know how to behave and you're not sure what to do and you don't really... because we've never been through this before... all you had to do at any moment was watch the Mayor. Watch how this guy behaved. Watch how this guy conducted himself. Watch what this guy did. Listen to what this guy said. Rudolph Giuliani is the personification of courage.


And it's very simple... there is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous, because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior. And I believe, because I've done a little of this myself, pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing. He's an amazing man, and far, far better than we could have hoped for. To run the city in the midst of this obscene chaos and attack, and also demonstrate human dignity... my God... who can do that? That's a pretty short list. The twenty years we've been here in New York City, we've worked closely with police officers and the fire fighters and...


...and fortunately, most of us don't really have to think too much about what these men and women do on a daily basis, and the phrase New York's finest and New York's bravest, you know, did it mean anything to us personally, firsthand? Well, maybe, hopefully, but probably not. But boy, it means something now, doesn't it? They put themselves in harm's way to protect people like us, and the men and women, the fire fighters and the police department who are lost are going to be missed by this city for a very, very long time. And I, and my hope for myself and everybody else, not only in New York but everywhere, is that we never, ever take these people for granted... absolutely never take them for granted.


I just want to go through this, and again, forgive me if this is more for me than it is for people watching, I'm sorry, but uh, I just, I have to go through this, I'm...

The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead, and they weren't doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. As I understand it (and my understanding of this is vague at best), another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we're told that they were zealots, fueled by religious fervor... religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamned sense? Whew.

I'll tell you about a thing that happened last night. There's a town in Montana by the name of Choteau. It's about a hundred miles south of the Canadian border. And I know a little something about this town. It's 1,600 people. 1,600 people. And it's an ag-business community, which means farming and ranching. And Montana's been in the middle of a drought for... I don't know... three years? And if you've got no rain, you can't grow anything. And if you can't grow anything, you can't farm, and if you can't grow anything, you can't ranch, because the cattle don't have anything to eat, and that's the way life is in a small town. 1,600 people.
Last night at the high school auditorium in Choteau, Montana, they had a rally, home of the Bulldogs, by the way... they had a rally for New York City. And not just a rally for New York City, but a rally to raise money... to raise money for New York City. And if that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the... the spirit of the United States, then I can't help you. I'm sorry.


And I have one more thing to say, and then, thank God, Regis is here, so we have something to make fun of.

If you didn't believe it before, and it's easy to understand how you might have been skeptical on this point, if you didn't believe it before, you can absolutely believe it now... New York City is the greatest city in the world.

lengthy applause

We're going to try and feel our way through this, and we'll just see how it goes... take it a day at a time. We're lucky enough tonight to have two fantastic representatives of this town, Dan Rather and Regis Philbin, and we'll be right back.

to commercial

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To: RoseofTexas
"Not one single word about the excellent job our Prez has been sad!"

My thoughts EXACTLY. I am impressed with what he did say, but disappointed in what he didn't say. President Bush is doing an excellent job. Too bad Letterman couldn't have given him a mention. I would like to think it was just an oversight, because what he did say showed a lot of class.

41 posted on 09/19/2001 3:01:43 PM PDT by Mama_Bear
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To: Ditter
When is "chuckie the schmuck" up for re-election?

Either 2002 or 2004, however, if Rudy ran against Chuckie, that would make the Hildebeeste the Senior Senator from NY. I'd like to see Rudy continue on as mayor through the crisis, then head up a Justice Department investigation of the terrorist attack, then come back in 2006 and clobber the pantsuited witch.

42 posted on 09/19/2001 3:03:48 PM PDT by Inspectorette
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To: PaulJ

And I have "friends" who wonder why I love this guy...

43 posted on 09/19/2001 3:06:46 PM PDT by Fintan
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To: PaulJ
Thanks. I missed the first 45 minutes of the show.
44 posted on 09/19/2001 3:10:03 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: techcor
I would also like to see David Letterman vent about Howard Stern and other anti-American statements.

The obvious one would have to be Bill Maher. If Barbara Olsen had been going to be on Letterman instead of PI, she'd probably be alive today.

45 posted on 09/19/2001 3:13:31 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: holyscroller
"What a class act, compared to that detestible unamerican late-night show host Bill Maher. It's time to stand up for America, and any who can't, should move to another country where they would be happier."

We missed most of Leno ... caught Crosby, Stills and Nash though ... was unimpessed ... old hippies ...

Late Night with Conan O'Brien followed Leno and his monologue was as sincere as I think he could be. He said (among many other things) that he had made a career of making an ass of himself and that this was the toughest thing he's ever had to do. They (the show cast, workers et al got together and decided that, though they weren't sure if this was the right thing to do, they all felt they had to work, they had to get back to work ... "I don't know how this is going to turn out, but we're going to try ... we're going to try ... and maybe tomorrow we'll try, and maybe the next day and the next ... "

I was touched by Conan's sincerity

46 posted on 09/19/2001 3:16:42 PM PDT by knarf
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To: overseas_patriot
Re-Elect Bush 2004

47 posted on 09/19/2001 3:18:45 PM PDT by Hillary's Lovely Legs
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To: PaulJ
He had me too till he said Dan Blather was a "fantastic representive"...........Awesome words otherwise.

Stay Safe

48 posted on 09/19/2001 3:20:38 PM PDT by Squantos
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To: Slyfox
Yeah, definitely Maher. Ah, I get a smile just imagining Letterman ripping into those two. He, David Letterman, really could take those two down. Remember Saturday Night Live (and a few others) banned Andy Kaufman. His career was toast after that.
49 posted on 09/19/2001 3:29:11 PM PDT by techcor
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To: mdwakeup
Shame on you! Rudy went to ground zero before the towers collapsed. He had run for his life just like everyone else when they started to fall.

And some of the people he had just been speaking to moments earlier died under the collapse.

It could easily have been Giuliani too.

50 posted on 09/19/2001 4:00:26 PM PDT by Dan Day
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Who thinks that Dan Rather's crying episode was entirely genuine?

I denigrate Rather as much as anyone, but even I think it was genuine.

Rather's problem all along has been a lack of brains, not a lack of emotion.

And I don't think even an Oscar-winning actor could have looked that truly broken up.

51 posted on 09/19/2001 4:03:56 PM PDT by Dan Day
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To: Big Bunyip
Bring him back to Washington, we need him here.
52 posted on 09/19/2001 4:05:29 PM PDT by MLedeen
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To: Inspectorette
As much a I would like to see Rudy whip the pantsuit off hillery, I wouldn't mind if Rudy followed Bush (after his 2nd term) into the WH. Running for the senate in 2006 is just too late.
53 posted on 09/19/2001 4:11:04 PM PDT by Ditter
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To: Big Bunyip
New Yorkers could get the term-limits law repealed

BE VERY CAREFUL HERE. Do you want Clinton back????

54 posted on 09/19/2001 4:14:16 PM PDT by Sungirl
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To: Sungirl
55 posted on 09/19/2001 4:19:51 PM PDT by Sungirl
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To: mdwakeup
Shame on you! Rudy went to ground zero before the towers collapsed. He had run for his life just like everyone else when they started to fall.

Oh grow up. I was commenting on Letterman not Giuliani. But -- three hundred plus rescue people went inside those buildings and lost their lives. Rudy went -- as he should -- as the mayor, not a rescuer and no one told him the buildings were going to fall.

Letterman went on and on (and on and on) about G's 'courage' even saying how important it was to 'pretend' to be courageous even when you weren't. Why did he say that? Why did he interrupt Regis who was trying to say something nice about W?

Answer: Being half-informed and obsessed with his view that W is an incompetent he really believes the 'W ran' line. (Did Rudy have to order our pilots to shoot down American airliners? How many NYC mayors have been assassinated? Ans: none, zero, nada.). According to William Safire (Letterman can't read?) the terrorists even had the code name of Air Force One. (Were the terrorists gunning for Rudy? Did they even know his name?) Even Peter Jennings behaved properly on this matter as MRC now explains citing all of his comments on the 11th about W.

Anyone who criticizes Bush for 'running' is a scum bag. Letterman by hyping his Rudy comments and his silence on W is doing exactly that. Rather gave him a chance to second his (Rather's) comments on Bush and Letterman failed to speak.

Other posters (#13, #16, #23) seem to agree with me.

56 posted on 09/19/2001 4:36:42 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: aculeus
"...Letterman by hyping his Rudy comments and his silence on W..."

Oh give it up,

Are some of you REALLY upset because Dave left a few people out? Didn't mention our beloved President? Relax a little and give the guy a break. From what I've seen, Letterman said what was in his heart and the perspective of a NYC resident, Rudy is most certainly the man who did the best possible job of maintaining order in the middle of this chaos.

Letterman's failure to mention W. is hardly an overt act to portray the man in a bad light.

By the way, does anyone have or know of a link to this video that does NOT require RealPlayer?


57 posted on 09/19/2001 4:49:18 PM PDT by Lloyd227 (
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To: Dan Day
OK. A little tired and stressed out from the tragedy perhaps. Very possible.
58 posted on 09/19/2001 4:49:56 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Lloyd227
Damn right. And the reason he said it was important for people to pretend to be courageous even when you aren't is because he was talking about himself.
59 posted on 09/19/2001 4:54:40 PM PDT by Hawkeye's Girl
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To: Lloyd227
Are some of you REALLY upset because Dave left a few people out?

Oh, now I get it. It was like Oscar Night and one of the winners forgot to mention her agent.

I'm so grateful for the superior intellects one meets on the internet.

60 posted on 09/19/2001 5:05:54 PM PDT by aculeus
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