1) He didn’t accuse the extortionist of lying or even distorting or exaggerating the truth. He implicitly acknowledged that all of the “creepy things” he was accused of are true. That means the extortionist’s story is pretty valuable, doesn’t it? 2) “Slept with staffers”? Of course he slept with staffers. That’s how he met his wife and longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko, who worked for him at NBC; before that, he was in a relationship for years with his show’s head writer Merrill Markoe. I had thought his relationship with Lasko was pretty stable, though. If she doesn’t mind his having affairs with other staffers, I suppose the whole thing is none of our business. One does wonder what all of the other “creepy things” are, though. (Jim Treacher has some fun at Dave’s expense.)
Living in the New York media world, you realize what a strange guy Letterman is simply by how often you don’t see him. The guy never pops up in Page Six, never appears at premieres or parties. I’ve never seen him at a screening, which means he must arrange private ones. He never even appears on Page Six having a cute exchange with a waiter or something. I went to his show once, and during the commercial breaks he looks miserable. I mean, seriously depressed. Comedy and his show and, apparently, his women are all he has.
I don’t think this scandal will break Letterman. The media world will rally around him. (Jay and Conan will not have any jokes to make about this, unless the premise of the joke is that we should support Letterman.) The only real problem it will cause him is a lot of tabloid coverage, which is going to annoy him and make him even crankier than he naturally is. As Glenn Reynolds points out, what if all of this happened and Glenn Beck was at the center of it? The reaction would not be sympathetic.
Where does Dave find himself in 2009? Even Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, and the Associated Press, both typically see-no-evil sources when it comes to their fellow liberals, are pondering Dave’s hypocrisy in constantly mocking the sexual peccadilloes of politicians while sleeping with the staff.
Back in 2005, Howard Dean told another talker, the late Tim Russert, that “I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” Given the amount of the intense moralizing that’s at the heart of Letterman’s anti-Palin material (just to name one example of Dave’s many and sundry targets), Dave might want to seriously reassess his shtick.
Update: Jay Leno had lots of fun at his friend-turned-rival’s expense last night: “If you came here tonight for sex with a talk-show host, you’ve got the wrong studio.”