I wasn’t going to delve into this stupid situation David Letterman finds himself in. Every time he has one of these public crises his ratings jump, as if they are planned to “go public”. But it has become one of those sign posts that can’t be ignored along the road to cultural lunacy.
Synopsis: Letterman had a sexual relationship with a Woman A who worked for his company, World Wide Pants. At the same time he was in a long-term relationship with Woman B who eventually became his wife and the mother of his child. Woman A later became involved with a producer at the show “48 Hours”, and supplied him with “incriminating evidence” of the affair. Allegedly. And this producer then allegedly tried to hold Letterman up for two million dollars to keep the “evidence” secret.
Okay with all that so far? Now, Letterman goes to the authorities, they set up a sting operation, nab the producer, and Letterman testifies before a grand jury. Then he reveals all this information on his television show, which could be a sign of taking responsibility for his actions, or could be seen as damage control, depending on which side of the Letterman Fence you’re on. And scene….
Are you still with me? I know it sounds like an improbable soap opera plot, but there it is. The key point in all of this is not that Letterman has sex with employees (which is not illegal or even really unethical – just awkward), or even that some jerk tried to blackmail him over it, or even that Letterman came forward and dealt with the situation in the appropriate, legal manner. The key point is at no time has David Letterman been charged with harassment or coercion. Either of which would take this situation to a new and actually important level.
Now of course everyone who needs media attention, and is even somehow distantly, peripherally associated with this issue, is making their opinion heard. In primetime for free. It saddens but does not surprise that the National Organization for Women is one of these slummers. Some quotes:
“The latest Letterman controversy sheds new light on the widespread objectification of women in the workplace…Most women can attest to the fact that many workplaces are plagued with inappropriate behavior by men in power.” (That’s most women but only many workplaces.)
“Recent developments in the David Letterman extortion controversy have raised serious issues about the abuse of power leading to an inappropriate, if not hostile, workplace environment for women and employees” (I’m not aware that anyone has reported any evidence that there was a “hostile” element in the relationship between Woman A and Letterman. “inappropriate” sure, but the last time I checked that’s not a crime. It just makes people look stupid. Letterman definitely looks stupid in all this.)
If Woman A comes forward and accuses Letterman of harassment or coercion, then N.O.W. would then be fully justified in taking her side of things. But now Woman A has no side to take, unless it is that of a co-conspirator. Her testimony will be tainted by her association with the extortion scheme, so we may never get the truth in this case
But I don’t think N.O.W. is at all concerned with any of that. The organization needs to have issues to ride on, the same as any other organization that promotes social change and responsibility. The issue of Letterman being a victim of an extortion attempt, apparently aided and abetted by Woman A, seems irrelevant to N.O.W. – they smell media coverage, and as they try to stay relevant in the 21st century, that’s gold.
In a related development, can anyone tell me why Lewis Black is getting so much air time defending Letterman? Are they related? Or is Black another employee Letterman may/may not be exploiting?