I saw this headline all day yesterday and thought maybe AP or Reuters had picked up a headline from The Onion again. (They tend to do that from time to time.)
And given Letterman’s obsession with Sarah Palin and her daughters, this takes on a whole new, very creepy meaning:
A longtime CBS News producer has been indicted for allegedly attempting to extort $2 million from late night comedian David Letterman.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced the indictment Friday against Robert (Joe) Halderman, a 51-year-old producer of the true-crime show “48 Hours.” Halderman, of Connecticut, is charged with one count of attempted grand larceny. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
The alleged attempt, which took place last month, led the married Letterman to announce to his “Late Show” studio audience and millions of viewers Thursday that he had engaged in sexual relationships with female members of his staff.
According to Morgenthau, an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office revealed that Halderman waited outside of Letterman’s home at 6 a.m. on Sept. 9 to deliver a package of embarrassing e-mails and photographic proof of the affairs to the comedian inside his limousine. Letterman said Halderman threatened to release a screenplay that would ruin his reputation.
Letterman said that “this whole thing has been quite scary.” But he mixed in jokes while outlining what had happened to him, seeming to confuse a laughing audience at Thursday’s taping about whether the story was true.
Letterman’s “Late Show” audience was the first to hear the story, which came as a shock since the 62-year-old Letterman had married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko in March. The couple began dating in 1986 and have a son, Harry, born in November 2003. Fatherhood and his heart surgery in 2000 had seemed to mellow Letterman, who took over as the most popular late-night comedy host this summer after NBC replaced Jay Leno with Conan O’Brien on the “Tonight” show.
Letterman sat behind his desk to outline the scheme after a monologue that targeted some frequent foils like Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney.
Three weeks ago, Letterman said he got in his car early in the morning and found a package with a letter saying, “I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and that I can prove that you do some terrible things.” He acknowledged the letter contained proof.
He said it was terrifying “because there’s something insidious about (it). Is he standing down there? Is he hiding under the car? Am I going to get a tap on the shoulder?”
He told the audience that he had to testify before a grand jury on Thursday.
“I was worried for myself, I was worried for my family,” he said. “I felt menaced by this, and I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I had done.”
He said “the creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. My response to that is yes, I have. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Yes, it would, especially for the women.”
Whether they wanted to make the relationships public was up to them, he said.
“It’s been a very bizarre experience,” he said. “I felt like I needed to protect these people. I need to protect my family. I need to protect myself. Hope to protect my job.”
CBS said in a statement that “we believe his comments speak for themselves.”
It’s the second set of embarrassing headlines for Letterman in four months. In June, he apologized to Palin for making a crude joke about the former Republican vice presidential candidate’s 14-year-old daughter. Although there was a small “fire Letterman” demonstration outside of his studio later, CBS stood by its late-night star.
Okay, so here’s the thing. In the business world a superior who sleeps with the women who work underneath him is the classic definition of sexual harassment. And it doesn’t matter one bit whether they consented or not; the relationship is improper, and can be construed as “favoritism.” Even if both parties consent, how can you prove that Letterman didn’t then give improper raises, bonuses, or promotions to his “girlfriends” and bypass deserving parties?
In the military, this is a court-martial offense, as Lynndie England found out.
The big question is, will Viacom/CBS tolerate Letterman’s clearly unethical and illegal (not to mention adulterous) behaviors?
About time for another “FIRE LETTERMAN” protest, isn’t it?
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