Friday, October 09, 2009

Letterman: Interesting and Disturbing

Last week just as I was wrapping up my column, the David Letterman scandal story broke, so instead of writing about it immediately, I decided… why not just wait a little while to see how the story plays out. Now that a week has passed, I figured I would take a closer look….

Before we get to Letterman, Yankee fans might not want to hear this.. but I had the strangest dream… involving Joe Mauer. In the dream the Twins were locked into a marathon extra inning game that was going about 19, 20 innings and the announcers kept talking about Mauer having an incredible 8 hits in the game…. However, in this dream the Twins were playing the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series! Incidentally Johnny Burnett went 9 for 11 in an 18 inning game in 1932… Perhaps this an omen.. lotsa hits and a Burnett in the same sentence…

Anyway, as the Letterman saga continues to unfold, there are certain developments that I find interesting and somewhat disturbing. Let’s start from the beginning.

1. How he came clean – Very interesting and not at all disturbing.

Dave felt that Joe Halderman was blackmailing him and he went to the cops. I speculated on Facebook if Letterman knew when he went to the cops that he would have to fess up in front of a grand jury. He initially consulted his lawyer when he was first contacted by Halderman.. would he have gone to the cops if he knew his grand jury testimony would be made public? Nonetheless, it was smart that he announced it on his show… I have seen some attorneys on Larry King say that these shakedowns happen all the time among their rich clients and most of the time the issue gets resolved and nobody knows any different. That is a great selling point for those lawyers’ potential future clients who might be blackmailed and want to keep it quiet… Nonetheless, in this day and age of and TMZ, it made sense for Letterman to fess up on his show on his terms.

2. The woman he had his affair with – Very interesting and a little disturbing…

I don’t watch Letterman as much as I used to, but through the years I have seen Stephanie Birkitt on the show many times and all I can say is… huh?? Shes ok looking, a little goofy…and a bit funny with her little Letterman nicknames (double entendre, perhaps?) I always wondered how she was able to get so much airtime when she would bring those gift envelopes to Letterman when people in the audience won prizes. By the way, those contests are exactly what Johnny Carson used to do when he gave out free dinner passes inside envelopes to audience members who played “Stump the Band”. And so far a week into the story we haven’t heard any disgruntled former female staffers step up to say that Birkett got special treatment because of their affair. Frankly, I am kind of surprised by his choice and curious about his other ladies.

3. The story on the 2nd, and 3rd day, etc. Not so interesting and increasingly disturbing…

As the week has gone on, we have heard more about this bizarre triangle between Birkitt, Letterman, and Halderman. Only Letterman and Birkitt know the real timeline but she apparently started with Dave, went to Halderman, and then some say went back to Dave. Are they still together? I would assume not, although I do worry about a video of them surfacing showing a threesome with the Jay Leno 10 pm show playing in the background.

Is Dave a hypocrite for making wisecracks about philandering politicians? Truthfully I have different expectations when it comes to politicians and celebrities who attract a large following with the younger more impressionable audience. But, Letterman is JUST a late night talk show host,…not a man aspiring to lead thousands or millions of people in government, or a pop singer whose posters adorn the bedroom walls of teenagers across America. Do young kids really aspire to be another 1130 pm talk show host?

And is it more wrong to cheat on your wife or your girlfriend of 20 years? If the cheating went on before the wedding, is the 20 year factor more “relevant” morality-wise than if it were a relationship of 20 weeks?

But even though he is just a talk show host, he is a very powerful guy despite his tendencies to downplay his status in the Show Business stratosphere. .I have seen some old late 70s early 80s game shows on GSN featuring Letterman when he was hyping his NBC daytime show and his personality is almost the same as it is now. But beneath that persona, people appearing on Dave’s show know how much a late night appearance on that show helps their careers. The women he encounters appreciate that power, and apparently he had no trouble hooking up with them.

And since I don’t read the tabloids, I don’t know if anybody ever speculated on what Dave was up to after hours.. He seems to shun the spotlight, he never appears at movie premieres or any of that Hollywood stuff and everyone seemed to assume he hopped in his car after taping his show and sped home even though some reports speculate he had a little “love pad” in the Ed Sullivan Theater.

One other story I just found is on the KIRO TV website in Seattle. There is a woman named Sherry Jackson who was featured on a 48 hours segment produced by Halderman, and oddly enough she was the victim of a blackmail scheme. Jackson’s brother was murdered in the Phillipines and somebody was blackmailing her asking for cash in exchange for the poor guys ashes. She worked closely with Halderman on that story, and Jackson told KIRO that the two spoke often about the case. After she heard about his arrest… here was her quote (from KIRO’ s website)

"We would have conversations like that: What an idiot who would do something so dumb?" Jackson said.

4. Halderman’s lawyer’s reaction – Not so interesting… but incredibly disturbing.

Y’know America is a wonderful country and we have a terrific constitution… including the concept of innocent until proven guilty. This has led to some very creative lawyers who will bust their humps to get their clients acquitted. I appreciate that.. the right to a strong defense is spelled right out in the Constitution.. but sometimes these defense lawyers walk a fine line and don’t always know when to keep their mouths shut. As much as I appreciate their attempts to keep prosecutors on their toes.. sometimes they go from brilliant legal maneuverings to advocates of ridiculous causes. If you ever heard Ron Kuby’s radio show that used to be on WABC, you know exactly what I mean.

Now I see Halderman’s lawyer on the talk show and I start to wonder who is the victim here. He is spinning these stories about how there is more to the story, etc, etc. I have seen reports that Letterman included Birkitt and NOT Halderman in his social circle but are we third graders who have to all be invited to every birthday party? I get tired of hearing about “poor” Halderman, when in reality he was the one who demanded money for silence in what appears to be an open and shut case. His threats were caught on tape... the Manhattan DA has a copy of it and he tried to cash the corresponding check.

And what does the lawyer say?? “I can’t wait to cross examine David Letterman”. In other words, let’s threaten to embarrass Letterman so that maybe the prosecution will back down from pushing this issue so a trial can be avoided, and his client can get a favorable plea bargain. But he does dangle the carrot out there that if there is a trial. let’s destroy as much as Letterman’s reputation as we possibly can… all because he had the audacity to get blackmailed..

Doesn’t this stuff sound like the lawyers who defend rapists and lick their chops when the victim gets on the stand?? He “can’t wait” to cross examine the victim, while the defendant doesn’t even have to take the stand!

I am actually somewhat surprised and also impressed that Letterman is such a stud. I feel bad for his wife if she didn’t know about it, and of course he was morally wrong. But the guy is a talk show host whose show promotes movies filled with all kinds of performers who cheat on their spouses on a daily basis. I just hope a lot of participants in these affairs are not badly hurt by Halderman’s path of self destruction.

And wouldn't it be funny if Dave Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants (now there's a pun!) produced a movie about the arrest of a producer who was blackmailing a talk show host about his affairs??


Last week Pumpy went wrong with his Detroit Lions pick to even his record at 2-2. This week we go to Indianapolis, the hometown of David Letterman as the Colts travel to Tennesee to take on the Titans. The Colts are 4 point faves. Sayeth the Pump: I have been fighting this nasty rash all week so I say take the Titans... because their linebacker Colin is like my skin - Allred!


We went 2-1 (Im not even sure why I went with the Jet game instead of the Redskins) for a year to date record of 5-7.

Oakland 15 doggies over GIANTS - These 2 TD+ spreads make me nervous. Maybe not the week to cover.

CHIEFS 9 doggies to Dallas – Big spread again, but I’d love to see the Chiefs steal this one.

Tampa 15 doggies to PHILADELPHIA – I get the feeling that Sunday Night the NFC East will look very strong and I’m gonna be 0-3.

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