Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

No one wins in David Letterman blackmail arrest

October 2, 2009

David Letterman, victim, victor or philanderer?letterman

The married “Late Show” host’s revelation that he had sex with female staff members from his show, and that he worked with authorities to have an alleged blackmail culprit arrested, places Letterman in the odd position of having apparently vanquished a social parasite, but at the same time having his dirty laundry uncovered in the process.

Certainly, the audience was on his side during Letterman’s 10-minute exposition of what he first described as a “little story” he wanted to tell them. The audience clapped and laughed at even the most awkward moments of his tale, such as when he admitted to, as he put it, the “creepy” detail from his life at the heart of the alleged extortion plot, namely that he had sex with women who work on his show.

At one point, an apparently befuddled Letterman said, ”Now why is that funny?”

The question is whether Letterman’s television audience is also inclined to laugh off the whole affair. It seems no one can win in this whole debacle, not Letterman, not his family and not the women who were involved with him.

Certainly, Letterman himself seemed chastened by the whole thing, saying that he was motivated to protect his family and also his job.

“48 Hours” producer Robert Halderman has been arrested in the alleged extortdavid-lettermanion plot. (Read about that here). Celebrity news website TMZ reports that Halderman was forced to pay about $6,000 a month in child support back in 2007, in what will surely be picked apart as a possible motive for his alleged $2 million extortion scheme.

But does Halderman’s arrest take Letterman off the hook for something that he now appears embarrassed by? News website Gawker reports that Letterman paid for the law school bills of the female assistant whom he reportedly had a sexual liaison with, and that he had a habit of giving lavish Valentine’s Day gifts to all the women in his office.

Amid all this hubbub, what does Conan O’Brien have to say? Will O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” overtake Letterman in the ratings if Dave’s fans turn their back on him? If so, it would come as the “Late Show” host finally crawled his way to the top of the ratings heap after many years of playing underdog to the “Tonight Show.”

See the video of Letterman explaining the whole story below.

Comments

letterman is a hypocrite. he stopped being funny back in 1989 or so. it’s way past time for this loser to retire.

Posted by LT David Vaughn | Report as abusive
 

Yeech…! he looks like the disgusting weird uncle that “accidently” walks in on you while you’re in the shower. These women must really have been desperate to hook up with this creepo! yeech! again, he isn’t the least bit attractive…

Posted by Regina Taylor | Report as abusive
 

How would Borat say it? “Uhhh Hi-uh five-uh!”

Posted by i,robert | Report as abusive
 

I wonder how his wife feels about the fact that while she was biding her time for the past 23 years, he was fooling around. Besides, he never said when this was – it could have been since he married. What a slimeball!

Posted by CherylS | Report as abusive
 

I’ve been a huge fan of Letter since his 1st show.

But I have a question:
Is it possible to have someone arrested/prosecuted for blackmail… WITHOUT publicly admitting the reason for the blackmail?

Isn’t blackmail STILL a crime… regardless of whether or not Dave had sex with a staff member?

Posted by Wilma | Report as abusive
 

Well, if ever there were a GOOD time to publicly admit to sexually exploiting your subordinates, now would be it: “Hey, at least I wasn’t off drugging and raping 13-year-olds!” Thank you, Mr. Polanski.

Posted by Pete | Report as abusive
 

Joe Halderman had an affair with his co-worker and so did Dave Letterman, it may even be the same woman. I reckon Joe was married at the time, whereas Dave was not. Seems the correct man has been busted

Posted by Annabel | Report as abusive
 

Brilliantly done. Just fess up. And fess up more if need be. The poor dork here is Halderman. Doesn’t he know that Letterman makes his living fessing up? He was forgiven by his fans (not many here) immediately.

 

Its sick when people do these type of things I hope that everything works out for him and his wife.

 

Everybody loves a good train-wreck. Letterman will now pull away from the rest of the pack for good.

Posted by MoreGruelPlease | Report as abusive
 

“No one wins in David Letterman blackmail arrest?” Wrong! CBS wins hands down. Watch the ratings sore. And I’m sorry, but yes, Dave is funny, and while he’s done something we all hold to be unethical, and while I feel sorry for his wife and child, he is handling this more gracefully and sophisticatedly than most adulterers could dream of.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

I don’t why in this modern day and age we make such a big deal about “affairs”. Many people have them. The people who get hurt and who are affected are the people who are close and involved, but it’s none of the public’s business who has sex with who. It shouldn’t make a difference to 99.99% of people but everyone wants to point fingers and judge. But 60% of Americans have affairs so who’s the hypocrite?

Posted by Foo Bar | Report as abusive
 

Letterman genuinely has bullying problems. The fact he\’s having sex with his subordinates (not one person, not one affair) is using his position to sexually abuse another: \”Would you like that promotion?… I can make you a star… Do you want to keep this job?… I can ruin you so no one will ever hire you…\”

Sexual abuse… rapist… taking advantage of those weaker than you…

He is a pathetic person who should be prosecuted. He’s not funny… he’s abusive.

Shame on CBS for giving him a national platform.

Posted by Dennis Stovall | Report as abusive
 

It’s a sick reality of today that sexual discretion if not plain crimes by celebrities appear to have a different significance than if the same transgressions were committed by the ‘man in the street.’ The Hollywood-led outcry over Roman Polanski’s arrest earlier this week, followed by the seeming acceptance of David Letterman’s office dalliances, are a genuine source of alarm. Our sense of morality differs depending on the subject, his (heretofore ‘clean’) popularity, status, or wealth. Media focus is concentrated on the extortion attempts on David Letterman; little attention is paid on Mr. Letterman’s coerced admission of sexual relations with members of the staff. ‘The man in the street’ would indeed find himself on the street. ‘The man on The Late Show’ gets a rating boost and gains in popularity. Long live the double standards.

Posted by Yanka | Report as abusive
 

What’s the big deal about all of this? Yeah its heartbreaking for David’s wife and child, but didn’t former President Bill Clinton have sex with Monica Lewinski?
Clinton didn’t admit to it at first (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”)
At least Dave is being a man about it and speaking honestly.

Posted by i,robert | Report as abusive
 

Have you all being paying attention? What’ll happen is that Halderman will be released for lack of evidence, and he, Letterman, CBS, Lindsay and Paris will continue on milking all the TV-glued, sensation-craving suckers for everything they can get.

Letterman should already be in lifetime solitary just for “Will It Float”.

Stay tuned for Conan’s accidental sex tape release. yeewch!

Posted by dontbelievesheeit | Report as abusive
 

I understand Mr. Letterman is quite a sensation in the states. Here where I live in Paris this is being laughed off as a joke. Why would anybody really care about his extra curricular activities if no crime was committed? Naturally one feels for the women who may now be exposed. Cheers,

 

Bravo to Paris. Dave was single for a long time and messed around with his staff. None of them are calling a foul, just one trying to extort money in exchange for NOT telling the story. So Dave told the story. Well done. He’s still funny.

Posted by Karen | Report as abusive
 

everyone will forget about this in 2 days…and will be waiting for the next scaldal erupts. all the “how could he do such a thing” people are probably more guilty than anyone of having affairs and doing scandalous things.

Posted by tom | Report as abusive
 

Folks, When Letterman was fooling around with those women, he was 57 years old and after his quintuple by-pass surgery. Sooooo, you guys ain’t heard nothing yet about his sex life BEFORE the quintuple by-pass surgery.

Posted by double edged sword | Report as abusive
 

I think the timing after Conan’s concussion was just right. Conan found a way to draw some of Dave’s audience and Dave had the opportunity to bring them back. Can anyone say “Kanye”?

Posted by timing is everything | Report as abusive
 

Philanderer? How about “sex offender”?

I never thought this creepy guy was funny. I watched him once, about 10 years ago.

Letterman makes a joke about raping our next president’s 13-year-old daughter, then he, the sexual predator, turns around and whines about “blackmail” when the rock he is hiding under, is uncovered, and he is exposed for workplace sexual harassment.

If his amoral paymaster had a single ethic besides “make money for me” he would be out on his ass. Too bad, the women can’t sue him, they already received their own blackmail payments.

And the media hypocrites complain about Republicans!

 

Dave admitted he had sex with more than one staffer. How many? In what circumstances? I think, as Halderman’s lawyer stated to the press, there is a lot more that hasn’t been dished out here than just a little office fling. The threat of “Dave’s world is about to collapse around him” doesn’t fit a long past, innocent office fling bill. Maybe Halderman learned of very secret things about Dave through his personnal relationship to Birkin… Things that are much more serious than a little consensual office fling. And what about this Birkin? There’s a 17 yr old difference between her and Halderman and a 28 yr old difference with Dave. She simply sleeps around with much, much older high-powered producers for nothing?

There’s more to be revealed here.

Posted by Alessandra | Report as abusive
 

The joke Letterman made a few months ago was not about HIM raping Palin’s (our next president? please tell us more of your psychic visions!) 13-year-old daughter, it was about Alex Rodriguez knocking up her 18-year-old daughter during consensual sex, not rape.

And people said faithfully reporting the facts in blog comments was dead! Kudos to Hananova, you sure showed them.

Back on topic… Letterman’s lawyer should be commended for orchestrating an absolutely awe-inspiring ownage of the wannabe-blackmailer, the story is inspiring to all who believe in justice. If only we could all afford such legal aid, though…

Posted by G, Cook | Report as abusive
 

People, please, get a grip. Who cares that Letterman HAD sex w/bimbos. That’s what rich people do. Halderman is suffers from envy syndrome, can’t you busy bodies who have nothing better do than to criticize rich people see that? Halderman is pissed that HE doesn’t have what Letterman has! Heck, maybe he’s pissed because Letterman slept w/one of the bimbos Halderman tried to but couldn’t. Who know’s, really, why do we care? Hmmm, ironic. How come we haven’t heard from the bimbos? Oh, I know, they’re probably all looking for lawyer’s who will boo-hoo w/them; filling them w/loads of sympathy and awe’s of, you poor poor thing, as they stroke themselves w/visions of dollar signs and 15 minutes of fame.

Posted by Mueller | Report as abusive
 

Mueller – why do you refer to his female colleagues/coworkers as “bimbo’s?” Seems you have the same issues that Dave has with women.

On-to Dave, kudos to him for announcing this on his show right away. Now, if he did have sex with any other woman for the past 23 years he has been with his longtime partner-turned-wife, THAT is an issue. If Dave had sex with these co-workers prior to becoming involved with his now-wife, so what. Dave is no better than anyone else and he knows it (but that does NOT excuse adultery, if that is the case now).

Dave’s insecurity around women and his constant (and annoying) belittling of himself for decades is his own problem. That said, I did know of a former (older) male co-worker who put the moves on (younger) female coworkers. He was given a warning or he would lose his job…so he took the warning and kept his job. What kind of “moves,” I do not know as this happened before I was employed there. That said, harrassment/ psychological blackmail/powerplays towards underlings is a major ongoing problem in the workplace. I, myself, have been the receipient of such unwanted behavior from male coworkers. It is completely annoying and unwanted. Fortunately, I speak my mind. These women, way back when perhaps, might have been too young and enthralled by a man/boss in a “position of power,” that they did not really reconize the larger ramifications of office politics, self-esteem, etc.

Suffice to say, Dave, at least admitted to his behavior on air immediately. Hopefully, sex with coworkers was not during his relationship to the woman who is now his wife.

Posted by r | Report as abusive
 

How are you going to walk into a bank and expect to cash a 2 million dollar check?? bad move, idiot deserved to get caught.

 

Nothing surprises me any more. The people in this industry and movies seem to think they can get aways with anything. Letterman is one of these people who defies the ethics of morality. He has no morals that I can see, having a child out of wedlock puts a blithe on the child. I am through watching such a ignorant,selfish,money grubbing man such as him and others like him. I wonder if he knows that people call him “trash”

 

I guess I hoped the the level of discourse on reuters would be significantly more intelligent than on the US news sites…oh well. I’m astounded that people are offended by Mr. Letterman’s actions. With one exception, everything he was forced to disclose is no one’s business but his own. If the affairs breached a policy of CBS in terms of relationships between colleagues, especially where one colleague was in a more senior position, then CBS has a right to enforce its policies. It is my understanding from other sites that the affairs pre-dated his marriage and probably the birth of his child. For all we know, his relationship with his now wife was on hold during those affairs. And for the poster who thinks that there’s a bigger story that the alleged extortionist will tell, forget about it – blackmailers don’t get to defend themselves by raising more sensitive information about their victims. The only evidence the criminal court will assess is whether the alleged blackmailer tried to recover money in exchange for keeping silent about personal details regarding Mr. Letterman. And…this from a Canadian…David Letterman is very very funny to those of us who are on this side of the pond, especially Canadians who see the US with very different eyes.

Posted by maggie | Report as abusive
 

DAVID LETTERMAN can say and do what ever he pleases and they clap! horrible anything go’s behavior in the US.

Posted by joann | Report as abusive
 

Just suspend his show until further investigation into this. I hate that he does whatever he wants, probably why i dont watch it for the last 10 years.
Two Voices | Two Guys

Posted by truthTIGER | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •