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Well-played, Mr. Letterman

October 8th, 2009

I’m sure that everyone has heard about the David Letterman scandal that was made public last week. If you haven’t, well apparently you live in your own little world where you never leave the house and lack access to a television or computer with Internet access.

So, for those of you who do in fact live in your own secluded existence, here’s what went down: Last month a CBS employee attempted to extort Letterman out of $2 million in exchange for not revealing that he had affairs with some of his female staff members.

In response, Letterman had the man that tried to blackmail him set up with a fake check. Ultimately, the man was arrested. The late-night TV host announced the situation last week on his show, detailing everything that had happened and poking fun at the situation. Rather than paying the ridiculous $2 million or just denying the allegations, Letterman chose to lighten the mood by doing what he does best – turning the situation into something humorous, and gaining a good amount of laughter from the audience. 

“Would it be embarrassing if it were made public,” said Letterman during his show. “Perhaps it would. Perhaps it would. Especially for the women!” Attaching his comedic wit to the situation allowed Letterman to turn something that he could have been attacked for, into something that simply got him more applause.

Even during his on-air apology to his wife, whom he married this past March, Letterman still kept audiences laughing.

This is brilliant. The publicity spin he put on the scandal was genius… why hide something that you know is true? Only Letterman would think to turn something that is probably tearing his family apart into something that has increased his ratings.

Yet, other talk show hosts are still attempting to poke fun at Letterman. Jay Leno said at the start of one of his shows, “If you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host, you’ve got the wrong studio.” Weak, Jay. Weak!

You can’t legitimately make fun of someone that has already made a joke out of his own situation.

Now I should probably clarify that I do not condone infidelity in any way, shape or form. There’s never a valid excuse for cheating. And, it would be hard not to feel sorry for Letterman’s wife, who is inevitably suffering from her husband’s extra-marital activities. However, it does happen. And, in terms of the way he handled the incident, I give Letterman props for stepping up, admitting what he did and turning the scandal into a ratings booster.