Letterman discusses extortion attempt after his affairs with staff members

David Letterman dropped a real bombshell on his show last night. He admitted that he’d been the victim of an $2 million extortion attempt that he’d had to testify about to a grand jury. What’s more is that he revealed the embarrassing personal matters behind the thwarted extortion, most likely to preempt the inevitable leak of the information. Letterman admitted affairs with female staff members, and he didn’t mince words. He said “I have had sex with women who work on this show. My response to that is ‘Yes I have.’ Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would, especially for the women. But that’s a decision for them to make.” He was very calm, straightforward, funny and well spoken about it. He explained that the extortion attempt started three weeks ago, after which he worked with the district attorney’s office on a sting operation.

Letterman really impressed me with how genuinely funny and upfront he was about the matter and I came away with a lot of respect for him. He handled it so well and with such grace and humor. (Here’s a link to a full transcript of Letterman’s remarks.)

Radar Online has insider NYPD information that the man who attempted to blackmail Letterman is a 48 Hours producer named Joe Halderman. Halderman lived with one of the women Letterman had an affair with. The woman is still working on his show, and the alleged affair is said to have happened more than five years ago – before Letterman had his son, Harry, with his wife and longterm girlfriend, Regina Lasko. Letterman was living with Lasko at the time:

An NYPD source has told RadarOnline.com that the suspect under arrest in the David Letterman extortion case was a producer for CBS’s 48 Hours, Robert Halderman. Halderman often went by his middle name Joe and currently has a residence in Connecticut.

A source close to the situation told RadarOnline.com that Letterman met with Halderman several times as part of the police operation leading to the arrest.

RadarOnline.com has also learned that the alleged extortionist lived with the woman who David was involved with.

The affair happened a long time ago, before his son Harry was born, and before he got married, but he was living with his wife to be at the time.

Halderman needed money police say and decided to target Letterman.

The woman still works on the show but is no longer involved with David.

The Letterman scandal exploded Thursday when the talk show host told his studio audience what was going on. At one point he said: “This morning, I did something I’ve never done in my life,” said Letterman. “I had to go downtown and testify before a grand jury.”

The extortionist was given a phony $2 million check and his arrest followed that transaction.

Letterman admitted to sexual relationships with members of his staff. “My response to that is, yes I have,” Letterman said, regarding his liaisons. “Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would. I feel like I need to protect these people. I need to certainly protect my family.”

Letterman married Regina Lasko in March of this year. The couple began dating in 1986 and have a son, Harry, born in November 2003.

Sources tell RadarOnline.com that Dave’s sexual relationships happened before the marriage, but during his relationship with Lasko. His relationship with the woman connected to the extortionist has apparently been over for a long time.

[From Radar Online]

I don’t know how Letterman could have handled that any better. Now if we hear some of the details of these affairs they won’t seem as shocking since he already admitted to them. As long as they were consensual and no one’s job was threatened, I don’t think his reputation will suffer. He was cheating on his longterm girlfriend, and there’s little excuse for that, but maybe she knew. Someone tried to take advantage of this guy and he owned up to his affairs. This just shows why Letterman has reached such a high level of success – he really knows how to deal with difficult situations. Compare Letterman’s candid response to you-know-who’s infamous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” statement. Letterman was honest, vulnerable and owed up to his mistakes. There’s less at stake and the public is much more likely to forgive him. Plus, he was a victim.

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36 Responses to “Letterman discusses extortion attempt after his affairs with staff members”

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  1. Gloaming says:

    He got himself into a bad situation, but handled it the best he could. A preemptive move of course, but it took guts to be so open about his indiscretion on his show.

    The morality police are gonna have a field day with this…

  2. Rose says:

    Yeah, a victim of his own making. I have no sympathy from him at all and think he is an ass of the higest order.

  3. Popcorny says:

    I do feel terrible for Lasko, shame on Dave for that.
    Tremendous kudos to Dave for handling the situation straightforwardly and admirably.

  4. YT says:

    My first reaction to the news was to question how stupid can the blackmailer be. He is facing some serious jail time. Did he not realize Letterman had the option of calling in the police?

    I thought Letterman handled it well on his show. He made his statement, and that was that. The audience obviously was not aware of the situation, but they were fine even when they caught on it was for real.

    Regina probably has already had construction started on his dog house. Man-oh-man, he is in deep trouble at home.

  5. environ says:

    It takes balls to own it the way he did. I felt bad for him, his hands were shaking the whole time. Unlike the myriad of politicians who run on the whole family values platform and try to legislate false morality Letterman has never pretended to be holier than thou. It was before his son and who knows what kind of relationship he has with his now wife, it’s his business.

  6. Hieronymus Grex says:

    Don’t hump the staff Dave, and you’ll be amazed how the problem of being extorted after the fact simply doesn’t happen.

  7. nona says:

    He is a big hypocrit. I am so tired of these celebs who do not practice what they preach but feel that they can make fun of other people. He needs to lose his show.

  8. environ says:

    Dave never preached, you can shove that lie straight up your a**

  9. jennifer says:

    If only everyone owned up to their mistakes like this, made no excuses, didn’t try to pass it off as an addiction excuse, didn’t try to justify it in anyway. I get so sick of people who fuck up, then try to make excuses blah blah blah. I don’t condone the behaviour but I respect him for totally owning up to it. We all make mistakes, some bigger than others, and I respect people a hell of a lot more when they just own it. Now clean your shit up, Dave. ;)

  10. Linda says:

    Horray – finally a man who admits the truth when confronted with it.

    He’s no Bill Clinton – depends on what your description of is – is…not the slimy John Edwards or the recent loser governor from South Carolina…even someone like Leann Rimes who was recently lying about her affair with Eddie.

    People will have a field day with he cheated – blah, blah, blah – but no one knows what type of relationship or agreement he has with his wife – so no judgements should be made against him.

    He was honest – more people should follow his example when they get caught.

  11. Mandy says:

    Lose his show? Who the hell did he hurt so badly that he deserves to be fired? Clearly, he talked things over with his wife, who is likely (understandably) upset and disappointed, but apparently she’s forgiving him. His son is too young to understand, and the affair(s) ended before he was born, anyway. The other women were presumably consenting adults. So no harm, no foul. Letterman’s a comedian, not a televangelist; no one expects him to be a bastion of morality.

    Huzzah to Dave for handling an embarrassing situation with honesty and a sense of humor.

  12. barneslr says:

    “He was honest – more people should follow his example when they get caught.”

    Or maybe they should just keep it in their pants to begin with, then they won’t have these type problems to deal with.

    Yeah, he did a good job talking about it on his show. But that doesn’t make him some kind of great guy. He’s a man who cheated on his wife and caused pain and damage to his family. You can say he’s better than Clinton or Edwards or Sanford, but honestly, he’s just got better stage presence. He did the same thing they all did…

  13. Mari says:

    @ Rose- completely agree

    For all those saying “he did an admirable thing”, or “he’s got balls”, that’s such crap, the only reason he did it now was because it would have come out from some other news outlet. It was a very calculated move aimed at lessening the backlash, not because he’s morally fibrous or because he felt this great need to get it off his chest. Quit acting like he did some *great thing by coming out with it first.

  14. Green Is Good says:

    “Regina probably has already had construction started on his dog house.”

    Ha ha ha ha!!

  15. Birdie says:

    Uhmm, I work part-time at a law firm (I’m a student) and when I was hired I had to sign tons of paper work on inter-office dating/ sex… basically that it can’t happen, and if it does I (and my sex buddy) would be fired for misconduct. Something about sexual harassment in the workplace…

  16. Iggles says:

    Mari – Exactly!

    I don’t watch Leno or Letterman, but I definitely lost respect for the guy. Cheating is cheating. I don’t care whether you own up to it or not. I think it’s a false meme that the public gets upset with public figures for lying about affairs. No, it’s the fact that they had them in the first place!

    Do you think Bill Clinton would not have been demonized by the Rethugs if he admitted to sleeping with Monica? Heck no! Do you think John Edwards would have still been considered a viable candidate for president if he straight up admitted to cheating and having a baby with his mistress? Heck no! It’s not just the lying. It’s the hypocrisy and collateral damage. If you’re cheating than you are ALREADY A LIAR! You lied to your spouse/partner about the affair. Admitting it to the public does not absolve you of your initial deception!

  17. I am disappointed – I thought Dave was an upstanding guy who kept his private life well protected. I know this doesn’t wholly write him off as a bad person, but multiple affairs is different than a one-time slip-up. Bums me out. and I haven’t had coffee yet! Wait! Maybe I’ve found the true source of my feeling of hopelessness.

  18. JJ says:

    Mari well said

    He just looks skeezy.

  19. Giz says:

    Oh so cheating is worth losing a job over? No! Letterman didn’t use public money to wine and dine these woman didn’t offer to marry these women and didn’t destroy a pubic trust. Has this country gone back to the dark ages? I’m sure Palin’s “fire Dave fans” are loving this! Yes, what Letterman did was wrong and I feel badly for his wife. However, anyone who seeks money to destroy another, has values that far worse!

  20. Phat girl says:

    People who want to judge him by their standards and put him down for taking a stand against EXTORTION instead of trying to be the fake poster boy for the moral majority are the ones giving fuel to the extortionists in the first place. He is immensely better than a John Edwards or Bill Clinton because he never claimed to be your foremost authority on monogamy or asked for your understanding or support. It was this jerk off trying to make money off the man’s private indescretions that brought it to light not Dave’s honest admittance to being imperfect which seemed more like a way to minimize the situation for the sake of his family than to let it get blown out of proportion and make it much worse than it really is. Of course we all know that the same people who want to judge the man for owning up to his mistakes are the same ones who can’t get enough of the scandal in the first place.

  21. jess says:

    “he handled it so well with grace and humor” this is what is disgusting. he had an affair, multiple ones actually. just because he’s honest and funny doesn’t make him respectable. have we completely lost perspective?

  22. Phat girl says:

    And please don’t judge me for my spelling skills as I fully admit that I have made spelling errors in the past and I feel I must now protect the words involved and my family from the backlash.

  23. Linda says:

    Mari you are so wrong – it was his choice to turn this over to the police and by doing so, he KNEW it was going to be a public matter. By going to court and testifying – again, he did so with the intention of it being public. Sometimes you have to wait to make a statement and tell the public so you can catch the bad guy first.

    Also – for everyone jumping to conclusions in this – supposedly the affair he was being blackmailed with happened before he got married!

  24. Lantana says:

    Maybe there was a reason Letterman avoided marriage for so many years — perhaps he wasn’t technically “cheating” if he wasn’t married. And say what you want about morality (sin of living together before marriage or that cohabitation should have the same commitment as marriage, etc) the legal fact is that if he was married and his wife found out he’s screwing around and proceeded to divorce him, he’d lose his ass. The laws are different (at least in the midwest) for cohabitation vs marriage. That said – it’s not really clear exactly which came first – banging the staff or them getting hired. Did he expect sex from every female employee? Was he like a Heff-wannabee? (“Put out if you want the cover”)That portion of the whole thing is probably a little more tainted.

  25. jeannified says:

    Normally, cheatting makes me so pissed, but for some reason, the way he handled it…I don’t feel as angry toward him for it. it IS wrong, that he cheated on his girlfriend, but then again, they’ve been together for YEARS before getting married. Maybe she knew about it and was ok with it. Who knows…

    Glad he called the cops right away, though, and handled it the way he did. People should know not to mess with David Letterman. He’s not afraid to do something about it.

    The guy who tried to black mail him is surely crying the blues now. I wonder how the “otehr woman” is gonna be treated now. It will only get more interesting UNLESS David is determined to keep things “clamped down” on his end, and keep everyone clamped down too. (The other woman.)

  26. nanster says:

    I am waiting for something like this to come out about Leno – he’s the one I think is the real perv…

  27. JJ says:

    Leno’s gross

  28. Mari says:

    @ Linda- go back and re-read what I wrote.
    He really didnt have much of a choice other than to let the police handle it, unless he wanted to fork over the money. With that said, *of course he knew it was going to go public once he went to the popo, which is why (if you read what I wrote) I said “it was a very calculated move” and had absolutely nothing to do with his own moral obligations. His reasoning was faulted by monetary consequences.
    The whole point of saying what I did was because he is in no way admirable, honorable, respectable, reputable or any other ABLE words I missed, in telling the world about his affairs.

  29. Iggles says:

    JJ: “The whole point of saying what I did was because he is in no way admirable, honorable, respectable, reputable or any other ABLE words I missed, in telling the world about his affairs.”

    Absolutely.

    Also, I think it’s wrong that for a lot of folks he’s coming out of this smelling like roses. Meanwhile the career of the young lady he had an affair with has likely been destroyed or (at best) extremely compromised. Within her industry she’s going to be a punch line for years.

  30. Giz says:

    So are we suppose to thank the extortionst for making Letterman fess up? Letterman’s in deep do-do and this guy is out of a job, $2Mm along with a chance of jail time. Of course, there will be a book deal out of this, so why would extorion be less hideous? In my book anyone looking to profit on someone elses sin is JUST as bad or WORSE! Not mention the violation of the aide’s her privacy! Apparently, the extortionish didn’t think twice about what this was going to do to her, or maybe it was his intent to hurt her as well.

    Okay, so where’s the uproar over the aide? …Yeah…just as I thought. She’s the victim. We aren’t talking a 13-year-old here! Why is it that only men are dogs?

  31. princess pea says:

    @ Mari – You said: “the only reason he did it now was because it would have come out from some other news outlet.”

    So, he should have told us that he slept with a staffer when? At all? Please now disclose your entire sexual history, as you think that it should be public knowledge. (waits)
    Oh, that’s right. It’s not.

    We have no reason to presume that Regina only found out about this yesterday, when we all did. Maybe this is something that they have worked through a long time ago. Why should the public have been informed? I DO think it’s admirable to shut down an extortionist, actually. I really admire the grace he’s showing here. No excuses, just honesty. Explain again why and when he should have publicized this in the past?

  32. blaugrau says:

    celebitchy, I am disappointed in your double standard. Claire Danes is probably the worst person in the world because she fell in love with a man who had a girlfriend (she was single, by the way), but the multiple Letterman’s affairs are ok, because the guy is funny. I find him funny too, but if you read the article you can realise how disgusting this is. It’s not just about the infidelity, it’s about an almighty boss taking advantange of his position. It is disgusting!

  33. Mari says:

    Princess- nope, totally missed the point.

  34. Patty says:

    You know Dave used to have a drinking problem. Not sure if therapy or AA or whatever changed this, but I believe he did quit. So does sex with underlings at work now take it’s place while he lives with a woman?
    In a way who cares. I just feel sorry for Regina Lasko if she didn’t know and if she did know, I am sure she never wanted all of the public to know, especially since they have a child. I also feel sorry for his son who will one day read and know about this.
    I also wonder if these women he had affairs with got raises, promotions etc… Too bad he couldn’t just break up with his girlfriend if he wanted sex with new people. Hope she signed a prenup that treats her well in case this becomes too much and she now wants out. Dave will go on, look at Regis he had an affair and I suppose his wife and daughter forgave him.

  35. Lindsay says:

    What does wife and long-time girlfriend mean? Aren’t one or the other? Or is he like Hugh Hefner used to be married to someone and openly having girlfriends?

  36. Who Cares says:

    Nobody deserves to be blackmailed , so in that regard I feel for Letterman.

    Beyond that, the only one that deserves any sympathy is his wife, since they were a couple at the time even though they weren’t married.

    He handled it well, so good for him, since he knew it would come out.

    And when you get right down to it, besides the blackmail, it’s no big deal. He’s a talk show host, not a politician running on a morality platform. He owes no one but his wife an explanation.