It’s Sunday evening and on the third day after David Letterman announced to his audience that he’d had affairs with women on his staff, not one of my Facebook-using friends has mentioned the would-be scandal. And I say “would-be” because unlike the people he has included in his jokes and monologues over the years, he approached the revelation differently. He admitted he’d had sex.
And that is where the departure began in his approach to what sounds like a stress-filled month where the former boyfriend of one of the staffers with whom he’d had an affair tried to blackmail him for (cue Dr. Evil) two million dollars in exchange for the man not writing a book or movie about the liaisons.
Letterman, on Thursday night’s show, took matters into his own hands before the rest of the media and critics could even begin speculating. He avoided the awkward wife-by-his-side denials that have plagued politicians over the last several years.
He did not claim that he did not have sex with that woman. He didn’t proclaim to have a wide stance or a sudden urge to hike the Appalachian Trail. He did not run away to sex-addiction therapy. He didn’t deny and then admit. He self-effacingly told the audience that, difficult as it was to believe, he’d had sex and that when the truth came out it would be embarrassing for the women. I bet.
I’ll admit, in the late night television battles (from which I weaned myself when the digital revolution happened this summer) I was always a Letterman person. Yes, he can be annoying. But his Midwestern style of delivery won me over. I’m even old enough to remember when he had a daytime show. So I'm speaking here as someone who kind of likes the guy as a TV personality. Still.
Cheating on a partner when you’re in a committed relationship, whether married or not, is detestable. (I know, some people have open relationships & that’s another story.) Lying about it when questioned directly takes it to a level where I lose much of my remaining respect for a person. Their road to redemption in my eyes will be mighty long. But this guy did something detestable, then he told the truth about it. My brain doesn’t quite know where to file this. But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is what his wife thinks, what his bosses think and what the women involved think. As for me, now that the Ken Burns National Parks documentary is over, I’m going to unhook the digital converter box and go back to watching You Tube.