Letterman’s Confession

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

Late Show with David LettermanImage via Wikipedia

I'm fairly sure it is none of our business who David Letterman had sex with.  But he told us anyway.  He didn't have to; the guy who was blackmailing him was arrested.

Still, you don't see this kind of honest very much, delivered with humility, candor and humor.  Interesting TV.  Slate calls it a “deeply personal, bizarre monologue.”

From a PR standpoint, Letterman handled this perfectly.  He has a deep resrvoir of good will with the public, and he dipped into it, delivering a glib retelling of the extortion attempt and his "bad behavior" that led up to it.

The extortionist, CBS said, is an employee of the CBS show "48 Hours" named Robert J. Halderman.  He was "let go" by CBS yesterday.

UPDATE:  One of the female employees Letterman had a sexual affair with was named Stephanie Burkitt.  She's a New Hampshire native and a Wake Forest graduate (she's following me!).  She made some on-air appearances for The Late Show.  That relationship ended in 2003, before David's child was born (and before David married the child's mother).  Burkitt later became involved with the Halderman, who apparently accessed Burkitt's diary, and got the goods on Letterman.  Burkitt is apparently "mortified" that Halderman would have done something like that.

UPDATE:  There's a lot of crowing from conservative blogs about Dave Letterman, who, as a late-night talk show host, has had his share of laughs about other people's sex scandals — people like David Vitter and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig and Governor Mark Sanford.  I'm not sure the comparisons are the same. 

For one thing, David Vitter and Larry Craig and Mark Sanford ran for office as politicians esposing "family values".  David Letterman never claimed to be a "family values" champion.  He certainly can't tag him as being a "moral hypocrite".

Secondly, I'm not sure where there "sex scandal" lies here.  There's no evidence to suggest that Letterman, who got married six months ago, cheated on his wife, unlike the objects of Letterman's jokes about past sex scandals of others.  He was, at the time of these "bad" things, a single man.  I don't think single men with girlfriends should cheat on those girlfriends, but I don't think it rises to the level of marital infidelity.  And for all we know, Letterman may have carried on these trysts when he wasn't involved with someone (he had an on-and-off relationship with his current wife for many years).

The only real allegation of true immorality comes from the fact that Letterman apparently slept with co-workers, and apparently subordinates.  To my mind, this is rather low on the list of sins.  Yes, such behavior could involve power plays and the subordination of women, all of which are inappropriate office behavior.  But it doesn't automatically mean this happened in this case.  Isn't it possible that these women were mature consenting adults, and they received no benefit/promotion (or punishment/demotion) from their liasons with David Letterman?  Is there any evidence — any whatsover — of this?

The story here is that Letterman was involved in "sex scandals".  The story here is that Letterman was the victim of extortion.

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