Somebody explain to me this man-love thing David Letterman seems to have for Dr. Phil McGraw. The beefy Texan was a guest on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman last night where he was allowed to publicy wash off the stink from that Britney Spears fiasco.

Letterman has Dr. Phil on all the time, anointing him as “TV’s favorite mental health professional.” Last night, it was Letterman hosting an intervention, doing a rescue job on Dr. Phil’s damaged reputation.

We all saw the headlines. McGraw looked opportunistic at best and unethical at worst as he stumbled into the Spears’ family’s latest dysfunctional meltdown. The incident raised questions about his qualifications beyond shouting at screw ups on television.

Still, Letterman waved it all away. “No good deed goes unpunished my friend,” he told McGraw.

Sure, the two have that CBS Paramount connection, and you could see why the network would want McGraw on their all the time (last night to promote his upcoming 1000th episode, airing Feb. 11 and featuring Letterman as a guest!). But what’s Letterman need this abusive hambone for? The shtick about Dr. Phil mending the Oprah-Dave fence is over and old. Now its just down to two tall guys talking. You can almost hear Howard Stern at home screaming “Sell Out!” at his television.

You can see why it works for McGraw. The Letterman appearances made him seem like a big teddy bear, albeit one with a sarcastic edge. He’s always giving Letterman the gears about not getting married. Letterman goes along with it, enough of a showman to welcome a straight man with a jab, knowing that viewers get a kick out of seeing him fight in his class.


I guess that’s it. But it was interesting last night when McGraw started going on about how he thought “the Spears are a great family, I think they’re nice people.” Letterman’s audience thought it was a bit and started to laugh. They weren’t buying it for a New York minute, not even from TV’s favorite mental health professuional.

1 Comment

  1. I thought I was watching The Tonight Show there for a second. Usually, it’s Leno who lets dopey guests off easily like this. I remember a time when Dr. Phil was the butt of many a joke on Letterman. Not anymore. What a terrible clip. It’s hard to say who came off worse. One thing’s for sure. McGraw’s explanation for his questionable judgment was exceedingly lame and unpersuasive. It doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test.

    By the way, thanks for answering my question about Due South. It’ll be interesting to see if this co-financing deal will lead to many more in the future.

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