Letterman has recently been branded 'respectful' for the way that he handled the sensitive topic of Eilish's Tourette syndrome tics.
David Letterman is winning high praise on the internet after his recent interview with Billie Eilish in the Netflix series, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." Although previously scrutinized and called "mean" and "cruel" by several celebrities on his show, Letterman has recently been branded “classy” and “respectful” for the way that he handled the sensitive topic of Eilish's Tourette syndrome (TS) tics. If you are unfamiliar, The Mayo Clinic defines the condition as “repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can't be easily controlled." The seven-time Grammy winner was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of 11.
In May 2022, Eilish revealed to Letterman that she does not discuss her syndrome frequently because of misconceptions and reactions. “It’s really weird, I haven’t talked about it at all,” she said, reported ELLE. She shared her first thoughts on it during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2019 and told the host, “All the people closest to me know that I have it...I just never said anything [publicly] because I didn’t want that to define who I was.” Letterman did not intend to ask Eilish about her diagnosis until midway through the interview she jerked her head to one side. A fly had buzzed through the room earlier, and Letterman asked if the bug was bugging her. “No,” she says. “I’m ticking.”
Letterman then apologized and proceeded to ask what had triggered it, and Eilish explained that it was the lights. She added: “If you film me for long enough, you’re gonna see lots of tics.” He asked for her permission to discuss her diagnosis in further detail, and she responded eagerly, “Yeah, absolutely,” Eilish answered with enthusiasm. “It’s really weird. I haven’t talked about it at all. The most common way that people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny.” She added, “I’m always left incredibly offended by that.”
David admitted, “See, I was guilty of that. We are sitting here talking, everything is fine, and then because I’m me, I think I’ve said something that’s pissed you off,” adding, “I just thought oh, she’s fed up with me, but that’s me.” According to Buzzfeed News, Eilish then revealed that some other artists have confided in her that they also live with Tourette syndrome but have not gone public with their diagnosis. “Thank you for including me in this. I appreciate it,” Dave said. “Thank you for asking. I’m very happy talking about it,” the singer replied, which is when David shared his fear that the interview had triggered Eilish's tics. He reassured Eilish, “I hope to god what we’ve done here didn’t exacerbate this.”
This clip from the interview was posted on TikTok, where David was lauded for getting permission from Billie before asking her any invasive questions. "So refreshing to see someone who was one of those reporters grow even after "retirement" to become so respectful. It's possible to just be nice," commented @pixiekaterose. "I love the conversation, he was respectful, yet curious. She was cautious, yet open. Conversation is the key," wrote @laynedbrown. "An example of how you don’t need to understand something/someone in order to treat them with respect," said @dancyambler. "Dave has become a kinder gentler older man," remarked @october767. " 'I know nothing about this,' is one of the best and easiest lines to say to put someone at ease in my opinion.'" shared @fissur02.