Friday, October 02, 2009

David Letterman, creep

David Letterman admits on his show that he has had sex with women who work for him -- and the audience laughs.

He told about this on the air because someone was apparently trying to extort money from him by threatening to tell about the sex with staffers unless Letterman paid him off.

Letterman claims he was admitting the sex because he "has to protect these people." The audience applauds.

What a great guy! Right.

Well, no.

Yes, extortion is wrong.

But a boss sleeping with women on his staff also is wrong. One also assumes it's against the policies of CBS for a boss to have sex with people who work for him or her. What will CBS do now? You can bet that women all over the network are watching this carefully, because if they do nothing, any protection these women have from sexual harassment becomes meaningless. Any supervisor accused of harassing an employee for sex will be able to point to Letterman and HR suddenly can't do much.

Let's talk about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is all about imbalance of power. It's about women [and yes, men too] feeling pressured to have sex with the boss because, well, he's the boss and could have them fired.

It's about "creating a hostile work environment." That doesn't just mean having to face demands for sex every day at the office -- although that is terrible enough.

Let's imagine how all the women on the staff of the Letterman show feel now? Every one of them now is being looked at -- did he sleep with her? Or her? Is that why she got that raise? Did that one refuse and that's why she's now working weekends? What about the one who was fired? Was it because she said no?

Men in the office are probably wondering if that's why they got passed over for an assignment they wanted. Will their resentment be aimed at Letterman? Not a chance. They will resent the women for "using" sex to get what the men thought they deserved.

Yes, indeed, it will do wonders for the morale of the staff.

Letterman said it himself. He's a creep. But he's also a creep who very likely violated company policies that could get people fired.

Let's hope the policies work and do exactly that.

4 comments:

Elaine C. said...

I agree -- and appreciate your framing the issues so well. I don't expect there will be any consequences for Letterman. He makes money for the company, that is always more important than ethics or integrity.

Fred Schwartz said...

If HR takes it's responsiblities seriously and doers the job it is supposed to do -- no one will know, in fact no one but David Letterman, shoulod know.
Personnel matters are confidential, inclduing this one. Too bad, but too true. Should the results of the discipline, in whatefver form it takes be leaked to the press there will be anothetr issue to deal with.

David |Dah • veed| said...

A spokesperson for the production company for which letterman works says that they do have sexual harassment policies in place and that Letterman has not violated them. It appears that within the company the affairs were not such a secret. In fact his long time partner and now wife was a former staff member.

In his conversation relating his issue with his stunned studio audience he said women, plural. So there were at least two. We have no information how many and over how long a period of time or their position on the pecking order in the production company. So any scenario we paint is all conjecture.

Since Letterman's show is taped in the afternoon and broadcast later in the evening the laughing could well have been augmented with a laugh track by production staff. I also think that as a number of folks have reported that the audience was indeed astonished at his revelation, so laughter on their part would be human nature for some when confronted with discomfort and embarrassment.

None of this is to dismiss anything that Letterman may or may not have done. It has been obvious for years that he does not share our moral viewpoint. I just want to make sure we do not weave whole cloth out of nothing.

Dah•veed
Psychologist in Human Resources

Thomas Squiers said...

Just another example of how people who are in positions of "power" are allowed to get away with whatever it is they want. Sex is the metaphor here because most people get "screwed" by such villains and lose in the end. This is the society we live in and it caters to white, heterosexual men and allows them to do whatever in the hell they want. Seriously, America: wake up!