Should CBS Fire Letterman?

Should CBS fire David Letterman?

My father-in-law stopped by for a visit last night, and the David Letterman blackmail news came up while we were sitting at the kitchen table. To my surprise, David Letterman’s love life has somehow become a Republican issue. At least according to my father-in-law it is.

Then this morning I woke up to the following headline on a news aggregator site: “CBS Has Got to Dump Letterman”. The article is from the New York Post, which is tabloid journalism. But does being part of the sensationalistic tabloid journalism industry explain the vehemence of Andrea Peyser’s insistence that David Letterman should be fired immediately?

Here are some of the points she made in her commentary, along with my thoughts on each of those points. I’ve put her points in bold and quotation marks. (You can read her original post in its entirety here.)

“CBS has got to dump David Letterman. Right now.”

Where’s the urgency? Why not wait to see if he’s really done something wrong?

“Dave must go. If not, CBS will have lost any remaining shred of credibility, not to mention common decency.”

I’m baffled by the phrase “remaining shred of credibility”. What kind of credibility problems does CBS have?

“By his own admission, the married Letterman has bedded any number of women working under His Highness. Problem is, he doesn’t seem to know precisely how many. And brass has long looked the other way.”

Calling him “the married Letterman” implies that he was having sex with employees while he was married. Everything I’ve read indicates that the trysts occurred before he was married.

Pointing out that the women were working “under him” implies that there was pressure involved in the boss-employee relationship leading to the sex. That might or might not have been the case; we don’t know. (And if that is the case, then maybe Letterman should be fired.)

But assuming that every time a woman sleeps with her boss is because she feels “pressure” is insulting to women. Some women like to have sex. And some of them might even like to have sex with a funny, famous talk show host. Assuming that all women are helpless in the face of pressure from the boss at the office is demeaning. I know women who have had sex with their boss, and they’re strong people who don’t consider themselves victims.

Letterman doesn’t seem at all confused about “precisely” how many women he’s slept with. But even if he did, Peyser would probably slam Letterman for keeping notches on his bedpost.

Keeping the number of women at work he’s slept with private over the last few decades of work is respectful of his partners’ privacy.

“This development certainly makes Dave a victim — a victim of his own recklessness.”

So if he’d behaved himself in the first place, he wouldn’t have had to worry about extortion?

This is called blaming the victim, and it’s deplorable.

“This is a full-grown adult who made a grown-up choice. And he chose to sleep with junior staffers rather than take the standard route and walk to the corner bar to conduct a sad, ordinary affair. Instead, he’s working out some twisted Freudian issues on dewy-eyed underlings.”

The assumption is that because Letterman’s older than some of the women he slept with, they’re not adults, and they’re not able to make adult choices.

The tone of the article is meant to be insulting to David Letterman, but it’s more insulting to the women he had sex with.

Maybe these affairs were happy? Maybe they were extraordinary? After all, it wasn’t one of these alleged “victims” who came forward trying to blackmail Letterman.

“Letterman is guilty of cheating on the woman he eventually married after a 20-year relationship…”

Is it possible that Letterman’s wife knew about the affairs and didn’t care? I don’t know whether that’s the case or not, but shouldn’t it at least be a consideration? (Some men and women do have open relationships.)

And is cheating on your wife grounds for termination? We’d have a crazy unemployment rate if that were so.

“He has shown a wicked hatred of Republicans, which reached a climax when he joked about Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old daughter, Willow, getting “knocked up” in the seventh inning of a Yankee game by Alex Rodriguez.”

I haven’t noticed a “wicked hatred of Republicans” in his comedy. And Letterman explained that the joke wasn’t aimed at the 14-year-old daughter, and he apologized for the joke too. When is the last time a conservative broadcaster like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly apologized for mocking liberals?

“Americans would not stand for this kind of behavior from a government official.”

Hey, guess what? American did stand for this kind of behavior from a government official. His name was Bill Clinton, and he was the President. And he wasn’t fired.

And guess what else? David Letterman isn’t a government official anyway.

Should CBS fire Letterman?

Maybe CBS should fire Letterman. And they still might fire Letterman. He might have done something wrong. He might have used his position of authority irresponsibly, recklessly, or even maliciously.

But we don’t know that yet.

It’s also possible that Dave’s a get-around-guy with a healthy sexual appetite and an open mind. Some of the women he’s worked with over the years might have been get-around-gals with healthy sexual appetites and open minds too. Maybe everyone involved (Letterman, his lovers, his wife) were aware of what was going on and okay (even happy) with the situation.

But they shouldn’t fire Letterman based on the nonsensical and mean-spirited rant published at the New York Post.

by Randy Ray