David Letterman extortion revelations not a laughing matter

I am not the regular watcher of late night television I used to be many years ago. Watching SportsCenter or late night comedians such as David Letterman or Conan O’Brien were an easy way to unwind after working late at night on deadline at newspapers.

By now you have undoubtedly heard about the alleged extortion of Letterman by a producer at the CBS News show “48 Hours” and rumors of who at least one of the women may have been he had an affair with. There is no point in rehashing what in the online world – say about 20 minutes ago – may already be old news. Here’s a link to the latest if you’re interested.

I’m not going to bash Letterman for his obvious poor judgment and unfaithfulness. The errors of his behavior are as clear as day; it’s already tantamount to beating a dead horse. As reprehensible as his choice may be, looking for hush money via extortion is hardly a laughing matter either.

I’m also not going to say he’s a talentless jerk who should have been off the air years ago. I’d be lying, big time, if I tried to say I’d never before laughed at any of his jokes.

Without a doubt, it’s shameful.

The whole mess is a black eye for Letterman and CBS.

What is the most puzzling to me was the audience reaction to Letterman while he was telling his tale. Perhaps the audience assumed he was making a joke. Perhaps some were laughing from disbelief. The most surprising – and disappointing – element is that anyone was laughing at all.

Say what you want about Letterman’s mea culpa. It’s an obvious attempt to try and make the issue blow over as fast as possible. It’s the opposite approach to “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” which turned out to not be Bill Clinton’s best choice of words.

No matter what the circumstances, whether in the public for the whole world to see or behind closed doors one-on-one with a couple where one or both has been unfaithful, hearing laughter is hard to swallow.

In those instances no one should be entitled to the last – or first – laugh.



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  1. fernando said:

    I watched the show. There was laughter not because of the serious subject but because many thought was a joke. Not everybody can make that separation if they were expecting to laugh for one hour. I disagree with the “black eye for Letterman and CBS”. I watch the show because is funny. Not because I expect to learn from Letterman how to behave on my own live. Whoever does that is an idiot. Please don’t blame the victim. This is a black-mail issue. It should be condemn. If for me, put the guy in jail and through the key to the ocean. If the guy goes free one day, is going to make Letterman think that he or his family might be in danger if the guy decides to take revenge in his own hands. Basically, the guy is ruining Letterman’s life. Whatever happened between Letterman and his present wife is their own business. Life is complicate. Things happened. I can barely manage my own life so I’m not going to judge other people life, unless they are preaching and then not doing as they say.

    October 2, 2009

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