02:06 - Source: CNN
David Letterman on post-9.11 broadcast

Story highlights

"Late Show" host David Letterman opens up about 9/11, politics, fatherhood and more

He said Johnny Carson inspired his career, calling his friendship "a tremendous blessing"

Letterman on "Top Ten" origin: "It was a cheap, easy way to refill a category and get some laughs"

Letterman on politics: "For the record, I am a registered independent."

Editor’s Note: Watch the interview with David Letterman on Tuesday night. “Piers Morgan Tonight” airs at 9 ET weeknights on CNN.

CNN —  

When Regis Philbin asked David Letterman about the difficult decision to return to the air less than a week after 9/11, the “Late Show” host said, “I remember not wanting to go back, not feeling ready to go back, but knowing we had to go back. And you know – my concerns were minimal compared to people who really suffered.”

Philbin, sitting in for Piers Morgan, in his return to hosting after leaving “Regis and Kelly” gets Letterman to open up about fatherhood, politics, his career, his friendship with the late Johnny Carson and more.

Letterman’s “Late Show” guests on September 17, 2001, were Philbin and Dan Rather, and his completely joke-free monologue was solemnly delivered from behind his desk rather than the usual center stage. Letterman praised New York firefighters, police officers and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Of those who carried out the attacks, he said: “We were told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor, and if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you?”