David Letterman announces retirement

April 4, 2014

This article originally appeared on Politico.

David Letterman will retire next year, the CBS “Late Show” host announced at a taping of his show on Thursday.

The news first broke on Twitter by Thursday’s musical guest Mike Mills and by CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor. Letterman said during the show he notified CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves of his decision to step down when his contract expries in 2015.

“The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship of years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned just before the program, and I said “Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,” said Letterman.

(PHOTOS: Letterman’s political guests)

In a statement, Moonves said he knew the day would come, but that it “doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us.”

“For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium. During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events,” Moonves said. “He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes – including me. There is only one David Letterman. His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business. On a personal note, it’s been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won’t have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave’s remarkable show and incredible talents.”

Letterman has been the mainstay of CBS’s late night line-up for 22 years and was with NBC for 11 years before that.

It seems to be the end of an era in late night. Fellow late night host and long time Letterman rival Jay Leno handed over “The Tonight Show” desk to Jimmy Fallon in February after decades at the helm.

Now that Letterman is also on his way out, we may soon be seeing even less politics in the late night landscape. As I reported in February, Leno and Letterman heavily relied on political jokes for their monologues and often interviewed politicians. While Leno was rather balanced targeting both Republicans and Democrats in his jokes, Letterman made fun of Republicans in 71 percent of his jokes, versus just 29 percent of jokes targeting Democrats, according to data from Robert Lichter, director of Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

To read that earlier piece on the changing politics of late night, click here.

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