1010 WINS 9/11 Series: Looking Back At David Letterman’s First Broadcast After 9/11

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was something America had never seen nor heard, and after that dark day nearly 10 years ago, the country struggled to regain its normalcy and a sense of security.

Less than a week after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, David Letterman came back on the air.

“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,” Letterman said when he returned. “We are going to try to feel our way through this and we’ll just see how it goes — take it a day at a time.”

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports: Getting Back To Work After 9/11

The jokes were few and subtle – it was still not a time for laughter.

“How? What? Does it seem real at all?” Letterman said.

He tried to give America a feel for what it was like in the city those first few days after the attacks.

“It’s terribly sad here in New York City — you can feel it, you can see it,” Letterman said.

His guests that night included Dan Rather and Regis Philbin but it was the host’s monologue that grabbed the audience.

“We were told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor and if you lived to be 1,000-years-old will that make any sense to you,” he said.

Thunderous applause filled the studio as Letterman praised policemen, firefighters and Mayor Rudy Giuliani – who had previously been the butt of many of his jokes.

“Watch how this guy behaved, watch how this guy conducted himself, watch what this guy did, listen to what this guy said. Rudy Giuliani is the personification of courage,” Letterman said. “To run the city in the midst of this obscene chaos and also demonstrate human dignity, my God, who can do that? That’s a pretty short list.”

The most sustained applause that night came for America.

 Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

  • johnnyrage

    Cool 9-11 Tribute Video: http://youtu.be/Vs-MEPUyuGI

  • VY

    I remember seeint Letterman’s monolouge, and it was as beautiful as it was perfectly timed and on point. I wish CBS or the Letterman Show would play it again.

  • Anthony Pepe

    and Tori Amos performed a heart wrenching rendition of the song “Time”:
    “Napoleon is weeping in the Carnival saloon
    His invisible fiance is in the mirror
    The band is going home
    It’s raining hammers, it’s raining nails
    Yes, it’s true, there’s nothing left for him down here”

  • Stephen M. St. John

    “How? What? Does it seem real at all?” Letterman said.

    Well, there are those who are still asking questions about 9/11. There are those like myself who have done independent research on the matter. I have concluded that we still do not know the truth about 9/11 and need a new and a real investigation. Such an investigation can begin with my discovery that the purported 9/11 “Dulles Airport” surveillance video (mentioned on page 3 of the 9/11 Commission Report) is a total fraud. You can find all the details, including photos, input from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and a link to the video on the US Courts website by reading my short article “Dulles Airport” Shadow disproves US Government’s 9/11 Conspiracy Theory at http://www.show-the-house.com/id107.html. Thank you.

  • michaelfury

    Still wondering why Rather never showed us this video of Giuliani:


  • michaelfury

    Still wondering who told Rudy the towers were going to collapse.

    “I .. I went down to the scene and we set up a headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the Head of Emergency Management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was gonna’ to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit, got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.”

    – Rudy Giuliani, ABC News interview


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