Friday, October 2, 2009


At the moment a man was charged with trying to blackmail David Letterman, threatening to make public tales of Dave’s sexual relationships with women who worked on his CBS Late Show, Letterman had a decision to make. With the charge being laid, the story would become public – hugely, and quickly. Letterman’s choices: keep out of it by saying little or nothing (as he has done before, i.e. when he was being stalked by a crazed fan), or get out in front of it. Wisely, Letterman chose the latter, disclosing to his studio audience that yes, he had been intimately involved with un-named female staffers, and that someone was trying to use it to extort money out of him. The Late Show tapes in the afternoon, so video of Dave’s disclosure quickly made the rounds, letting people see him tell the tale first-hand, with equal parts honesty, bluntness and self-deprecating humour, in a way that few others can manage. He was earnest, sincere, and funny – and, ultimately, fairly endearing, as evidenced by the warm applause from his studio audience when he thanked them for letting him “bend your ear.” And by referencing the “creepy stuff” that we’re sure to hear more about, I think he took some of the edge off of the potentially lurid details which will surely emerge over time, i.e. age differences between the 62 year-old TV host and the women he was with. Ultimately, by leading his own story, Letterman ensured that his positioning and his comments would be the dominant aspects of this, his self-declared sole public statement on the matter. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a backlash from various corners, but he has established the initial shape of the story at the outset.

No comments: