Self-restraint isn’t usually the first word I would use to describe the venerable Rachel Ray. While I don’t watch Rachel, I like what she stands for and I appreciate her honesty about not being a professionally-trained, fine chef. As she puts it, she delivers “a square meal on a round plate.” A visit to Rachel’s site or a snippet of her show might give you tips for hiding veggies in your kids’ food, a recipe for an easy dinner using what’s in season or a bit about her own non-profit work, fighting to end childhood hunger and teaching kids how to cook and have healthy relationships with food. But I just can’t get past the fact that she doesn’t bake.
Although, this fact surely played in her favor when she made a recent visit to the David Letterman show about a week ago.
Before the interview, Letterman joked that we have too many options of cookies at the grocery store, unlike communist countries that only have one type of cookie and no obesity problem. Then he went off (and on and on and on) about how much he dislikes food television. Before Rachel even sat down, Letterman spoke about his plans to “grill” her.
While during the interview Dave barely let Rachel get a word in, I must admit, had I been in her shoes, I don’t think I would have responded as mildly. He dismissed Rachel’s point about kids actually liking fruit and real food (“Really? I’m skeptical.”) He stated “if you go to a culture where people are not fortunate enough to have this great abundance, people tend not to be obese.” To which Rachel countered, “If you only have a coupla bucks in your pocket and all you can afford to get for your child is a quickie take out hamburger and that’s what they want and you have access to it, you can’t slight that person for doing it.” Dave’s solution then was making the show Cupcake Wars donate all of its proceeds to “people who can only afford to eat crap.” He stated that people not being able to afford good food wasn’t actually the problem though, abundance was the problem, he then complained about eating too many Oreos and stated that he was therefore “not above” the problem. So what exactly is the point Dave is trying to make? We should have less cookie choice? We should feel bad about watching television shows about food? When Discovery Channel has shark week, should they then be tasked with donating all advertising proceeds to saving sharks in the wild? When Law and Order finishes a season, should they be responsible for donating all revenue to fighting crime? When Rachel spoke about her own charity work that addresses the very issues Dave was bringing up regarding childhood nutrition, obesity and hunger, he gave a rushed, “Well, good for you. That’s nice.”
Rachel’s publicist sent an e-mail to Letterman the following day asking “Was Dave mad at Rachel?” This prompted Dave to jokingly mention it on air and issue an “apology” several days before the Rachel Ray episode actually aired. I give the apology quotation marks for several reasons. One, he described Rachel to his viewers before mentioning her name as “a woman who has like a dozen television shows…and she cooks and hops up and down and runs around.” Two, Dave repeated his rant about food on TV and his communist cookie joke for some laughs before he even delved into the “I’m kinda sorry but I’m really funny” part. Three, the actual apology was little more than an after thought and was delivered itself as a joke purely for damage control:
“No, I’m not mad at Rachael. I’m just nuts. There’s something wrong with me. So, if you see Rachael, tell her I’m sorry.”
Really Dave? Had I been in your publicist’s shoes, I would’ve taught you how to give an appropriate, non self-serving apology.
So, I offer you:
The Top Ten Reasons David Letterman Was Wrong
10 – If Dave’s 400 lb friend had watched Rachel Ray’s show, or “Zesty Summer Salads” he might have gotten some help cooking healthy meals before resorting to a “wheat grass diet.”
9 – I’m willing to bet Dave has a personal chef, that seems to exemplify “abundance,” no?
8 – When Cupcake Wars comes on, you actually have the ability to change the channel to something you find more palatable. Maybe someone can explain the remote to Dave.
7 – Kids who go to bed hungry probably don’t watch Cupcake Wars as Dave so accused. If there’s no money for food, there’s no money for cable!
6 – Dave shouldn’t be so angry at television or the television viewing audience, doesn’t he realize he’s made an unbelievable living off of people wanting to watch something mindless?
5 – A self-serving half-assed apology is worse than none at all.
4 – If Dave is so riled up about the issue he should donate some of his millions to feed hungry children.
3 – Better yet, Dave should donate to Rachel Ray’s charity.
2 – Or Dave should try volunteering and actually get involved.
1 – And finally Dave, exercise some self-restraint yourself, put down the damn Oreos.