According to The Washington Post, President Barack Obama praised this year’s selections as artists who “inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world. It’s that unique power that makes the arts so important.”
Each of the honorees received tributes from fellow artists. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Kimmel praised Letterman, Robert De Niro spoke about Hoffman, and the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz and Ann and Nancy Wilson performed Zeppelin classics.
The honorees had already been introduced by Meryl Streep (one of last year’s recipients) and presented with their award medallions at a U.S. State Department formal dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday.
Tonight’s event was taped to air Dec. 26. on CBS.