CBS Pulls Plug on David Letterman's Explanation of Affairs, Extortion Scandal; But Why?

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In a riveting and unexpected 10-minute segment Thursday night's Late Show with David Letterman, the host told viewers of a suspected $2 million plot to extort him based on his past sexual relationships with female employees (plural).

The suspect, Robert Halderman, was arrested Thursday. Two of the women Dave allegedly slept with, Stephanie Birkitt and Holly Hester, have been identified.

If you watched Letterman's mea culpa live, or saw it online in the immediate aftermath, that was probably the last chance you'll ever get to, thanks to CBS.

The network never posted copies of the segment on or on YouTube, and worked over the weekend to stamp out all copies of the host’s explanation.

We suppose that as eager as media companies are to distribute their content online, there are still some moments they would rather not disseminate widely.

If you didn't see David Letterman's stunning admission of affairs with staff members that resulted in an extortion plot against him, don't expect to get another shot.

CBS’ reasoning is obvious, from a business perspective: they likely find it embarrassing and think the scandal will go away if it makes the clip go away.

This move is inherently flawed, as it merely fuels increased interest in the story, and any people CBS does keep from viewing the clip are more likely to misguidedly believe Letterman's deeds were worse than they actually are.

CBS even takes it a step further, posting Friday’s cheerful interview with Larry David, but not Dave's chat that same night with House star Olivia Wilde.

Why? Perhaps because, in the course of telling a story about how she moved into a bus with her husband, the actress said jokingly to Letterman, “I’m sure you could get many, many women to move into your car with you.”


The network has been more lenient with clips of Stephanie Birkitt, who appeared on Late Show skits years ago (recently obtained Holly Hester pictures suggest that her affair with Letterman took place while he was still with NBC).

What do you think about the silencing of David Letterman's admission?


David Letterman Biography

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David Letterman hosts our favorite late-night talk show. His top 10 lists are always good for a laugh. In the summer of 2009, he got into... More »
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