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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Why does anyone care whom David Letterman slept with?

Not only do I not understand how this David Letterman blackmail thing is a story, I don’t understand how it’s blackmail.

Are we so fucked up as a culture that merely the suggestion that someone is having sex with a willing, of-age partner — and not even one of the same gender! — is something to be embarrassed about?

People magazine makes it very clear that there was nothing at all scandalous going on:

The former staffer says that Letterman, 62, carried on a sexual relationship with one of his “peers, a woman close to him, not an intern.”

At the time the relationship didn’t raise too many eyebrows, adds the source. “It wasn’t a big deal because he wasn’t married. And we heard he had a girlfriend (Regina Lasko, whom Letterman married in March 2009), but she never came around, so it just wasn’t a big deal.”

Another close source, who has a long history with the Late Show, says that the program’s grueling schedule – 15-hour workdays are typical – helped breed inter-office hookups.

“In politics it’s the same thing,” says the source. “People who live it, eat it, breathe it … [It’s] not some sort of predatory, ‘Let’s hire beautiful women so we can feast on them’ kind of thing. That’s just not the way it works.”

The former staffer adds of Letterman, “He never acted inappropriate with any of the female staff. He was very kind, and I never recall anyone saying anything at all bad about him.”

At worst, Letterman is perhaps guilty of being unfaithful to the girlfriend mentioned… depending on the timing and the details of his relationship with the girlfriend, of course. (Just because he later married her doesn’t necessarily mean they were committed to each other at this point. And even if they were, is this even salacious enough to qualify as blackmail material, never mind public scandal?)

There are lots of juicy details, of course — including the implication that that blackmailer was operating not only out of financial desperation but of jealousy:

Former David Letterman assistant Stephanie Birkitt has emerged as the woman at the center of the shocking plot to extort $2 million from the Late Show host, but who exactly is she?

Birkitt, 34, until recently lived with Robert “Joe” Halderman, Letterman’s alleged blackmailer and a 48 Hours producer, according to multiple news sources…

(The Daily Beast and The Observer have more on the blackmailer, if you really need the sad details.)

What’s really appalling is how the “news” media has chosen to characterize the story: “Did David Letterman ruin his image?” USA Today asks. The Daily Mail gleefully sniggers: “David Letterman ‘kept a secret bedroom at his television studio for trysts with female staff.’” The Los Angeles Times wonders, “Should David Letterman be fired for having affairs with members of his staff?” The anti-normal-sex idiocy goes on and on.

Is this really the kindergarten depths to which we’ve descended? Why does anyone care whom David Letterman slept with?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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