The Letterman sex ‘n’ extortion thing gets weirder. The name of Letterman’s former assistant Stephanie Birkitt keeps popping up: it is believed she had a relationship with the alleged extortionist Robert Joe Halderman, and that Halderman got hold of her diary and other incriminating docs which provided him with his extortion ammo. Moral: if you’re going to have an affair, use an assumed name and, if you’re famous, perhaps a fake mustache.
Also, some of the press angles are surprising. The Wall Street Journal — which also liveblogs D.A. Robert Morgenthau’s press conference on the matter — is moved to reflect that “the office has now become the No. 1 place for meeting a mate” and that the Letterman affair(s), as well as that of Senator John Ensign, “serve as examples of how office affairs are often the worst-kept secret in any workplace.” (This is why we don’t show up at the office much.)
Reporter Sue Shellenbarger adds that “in some cases, it is best for co-workers and subordinates to try to ignore a boss’s affair… trying to halt an office affair is usually a losing battle,” which makes us wonder if Halderman made his extortion threat because he thought an official complaint to the NBC human resources department wouldn’t work.
Rightbloggers who were enraged by Letterman’s ungentle treatment of Sarah Palin are again enraged. “You can’t be too surprised given Letterman’s contempt for women,” says Michelle Malkin. “Another liberal hypocrite who is all for women’s rights in public,” says Don Surber, “but in private he abuses them.” (The abuse charges are new to us, but we’re sure Surber will explain in a follow-up.) “Why is Letterman different than, say, the usual run of Republican and Democratic politicians who have had affairs?” says Legal Insurrection, perhaps unaware that Host of Late Night is not an elected position. Others try for humor, with predictable results.
Our favorite take is Ward Harkavy’s: “Letterman Extorts Huge Ratings, Keeps his $30 Million Salary Intact.” (“Bill Clinton should have done the same thing.”)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 2, 2009