Late night television has seen some major changes in recent years, and David Letterman's decision to leave The Late Show after years and years affected two shows in big ways. The Late Show replaced a legend of late night television, and Comedy Central ultimately also lost The Colbert Report when Stephen Colbert jumped to CBS to take Letterman's place. The late night shuffle has worked out well enough as Colbert has managed to bring laughs to Late Show viewers. Letterman has been supportive of successor, but it seems that he's not 100% sure that Colbert should have gotten the job when there are plenty of funny woman who could have taken over.
David Letterman's admission to Dateline that he believes The Late Show could have gone to a woman is a follow-up to his earlier statement that his departure presented CBS with a great opportunity to bring in a woman or a black person as the next host. He also revealed that he was not at all involved in the process of choosing who would next head up the show, so he actually had nothing to do with the hiring of Stephen Colbert rather than a woman or a black person.
Considering the speed with which The Late Show announced that Stephen Colbert would be replacing David Letterman, Letterman might not have had much time to pitch alternate choices for host anyway. The announcement of Colbert moving to CBS came only a week after Letterman revealed that he planned to leave the program. The list of candidates may have been very short from the outset.
Despite some shake-ups since he took the top job at The Late Show, Stephen Colbert has proved a capable host. It's hard to entirely blame CBS for skipping over other potential candidates when Colbert has done so well at adapting his Colbert Report comedy stylings for network primetime. The job had to go to the best person for the job, regardless of gender. Still, it's nice to know that David Letterman remains adamant that a woman could have handled hosting duties at The Late Show. He knows better than just about anybody what it takes to survive in the spotlight of late night television.
Unfortunately, there's still quite a shortage of female hosts on late night television. In fact, the only woman with her own late night show is Daily Show alum Samantha Bee, who currently hosts Full Frontal on TNT. (Chelsea Handler also has a Netflix series.) If David Letterman had gotten his way and been replaced by a comedienne for a major network series, CBS would have made history in what could have been a great way. Maybe next time?
David Letterman's acknowledgment of the success that CBS has achieved with Stephen Colbert shows that he doesn't consider Colbert an unsuitable replacement, but only time will tell if he ever changes his mind that CBS should have hired a woman.