For years, David Letterman has made millions by making fun of other celebrities, sometimes as they sat there as guests (Cher and Madonna come to mind) and sometimes in his monologues. As with many comics, he’s reveled in the escapades of celebrities caught in compromising positions (Eddie Murphy & the transsexual, Hugh Grant and the hooker in his car, etc.).
In a shocking twist, it would appear that this is a case where the Late Show Emperor has no clothes… literally. It turns out that Letterman (who is married with a young child) has had a series of affairs with employees of his production company, ironically called “World-Wide Pants.” This all came to light within the past 72 hours in a bizarre “movie of the week” manner with the arrest of a CBS producer who tried to blackmail Letterman.
First things first: I hope the person who attempted to blackmail Letterman goes to prison for his efforts. There’s no place in our society for those who prey on others, whether it be through blackmail or in any other manner. Which brings me to my second point.
Letterman has admitted on his program to having had sexual relations with members of his production company. As such, he needs to take responsibility for the position he put himself in. It would appear his on-air admission to the affairs is an attempt to do that. It doesn’t excuse the stupidity and selfishness of his actions, but it does mean that he acknowledges it. That is the first step. I can only hope this was before his marriage and the birth of his young son. Which brings me to my third point.
As in any blackmail case, the real victims are the members of the immediate family of the person being blackmailed.
I’ve got mixed feelings on this. Consider:
- I hope Letterman’s wife and son will be able to cope with this. It can never be pleasant to be the spouse of someone who’s dalliances have been thrust into the spotlight. And the father/son relationship could be jeopardized as a result of Letterman’s selfish actions if, in fact, these dalliances took place while he was in his marriage or long-term relationship with his wife.
- Letterman is just the latest example of employers who use their position of power inappropriately when it comes to dating underlings of both sexes. So far, there has been no word as to whether any of the people Letterman had sex with felt pressured to do so. I hope each event was consensual, but if not, I hope Letterman is prosecuted for sexual harassment or rape if appropriate. I don’t care how famous or funny you are. Wrong is wrong.
- It now remains to be seen what this will do to Letterman’s career. If it were 20 years ago, Letterman might have found himself pounding the pavement. But in this era of non-accountability (especially in the celebrity world), it’s highly doubtful that CBS will punish Dave in any manner at all.
It would be wise for people like David Letterman to keep in mind the following: With increased wealth and power comes increased responsibility. It’s easier to get what you want, and easier for that want list to grow to ridiculous excess. We see it every day. Some choose to use this power to achieve personal goals that involve causing others to compromise their lives and situations–others who don’t have the luxury of your wealth and power.
When someone like Letterman forgets this and simply goes for his own pleasures, it affects others’ lives in ways that may not be immediately apparent to either party. But the price must be paid eventually, and it’s seldom the rich and powerful who pay. This, by the way, is not limited to the rich. Anyone who forces, cajoles, or simply fast-talks another into compromising their standards is wrong to do so.
Letterman now has to face the truth of what he’s done. He admitted it on the air to the laughs and applause of the audience. That’s not facing the ugly truth, David. That is something you will have to do on your own and with your wife and child. I could care less what the impact is ultimately on David Letterman. But I do care what that impact might be for his elderly mother, his wife, young son and the families of the employees he slept with.
I originally did my own “Top 10 List” to end this rant. Like Letterman’s it was crass but humorous. But in thinking about it, it didn’t feel right. I might send it to a few friends in the privacy of an e-mail, but to post it on a public blog seemed wrong. This is a public site and there’s a child (Letterman’s son) at risk here.Plus, if there’s one chance in a million that a family member of one of those involved were to read this and be offended it, too, would be wrong. Letterman may like acting on his impulse without regard to how it impacts others. But I don’t.
It’s more than simply a case where “The Emperor of Late Night Has No Pants.” His hypocrisy finally having caught up with him publicly, it’s no longer simply about Letterman. We know CBS doesn’t have the guts to do what’s right, so all that’s left is to consider the victims and “the victims behind the victims” including his wife and young son who is now left to wonder for real: “Who’s Your Daddy?”