David Letterman joked about having affairs with his employees in front of his television audience while presumably his wife of less than one year, mother of his five-year-old child, watched and while claiming he was concerned only for his wife,  son, and the women he screwed.  The scene, combined with recent events concerning John Edwards and Roman Polanski, suggests the film Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 2, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

David Letterman: Brief Interviews with Powerful Men

David Letterman spoke to his audience Thursday revealing that he was being blackmailed to the tune of $2 million for having sex with women on his staff. It was right for him to reveal this given the blackmailing scheme, as was his turning the matter over to and cooperating with the Manhattan DA's office.

But not much else was right about it. While indicating (via use of "women") that this involved more than one staff member, Letterman minimized his actions, joking about them to his audience's great amusement . Describing the "creepy stuff" that the blackmailer threatened to reveal, to the audience's laughter, Letterman said that it was having sex with women who worked on the show. "And would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would. . .especially for the women."

David LettermanLetterman spoke for a short time, saying that he wouldn't say any more about the subject. He says he wants to protect his family and the women involved. Sure, he's not the least bit concerned with his own stature, job, and audience. All he's thinking about are his wife and son - I wonder how they got in this situation?

But Letterman's claims about the right to control the dissemination of this story may be quixotic. Letterman's performance is reminiscent of crazy John Edwards finally admitting his affair - with numerous lies and misstatements - on Nightline, then saying that would be the last HE said on the subject.

Just as with Edwards, there's more to the story (although hopefully not a child).

It can be problematic for a powerful man to have multiple sexual relationships with his employees.

Beyond this, earlier this year, Letterman married the mother of his five-year old son, referred to in the press as "his long-term girlfriend," who had also worked for him. Letterman said in announcing his marriage (belatedly) on his show that he had been dating Regina Lasko since 1986, and joked that in staying unmarried for so long he was the "last of the real gunslingers."

Letterman has had an unusual intimate life, where he doesn't commit himself to a woman, even after having a child with her, which is not something most people in his audience would find humorous.

Letterman's admission appeared at a time when the movie, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, is appearing. According to the Times, "its composite portrait of the male psyche in the post-feminist era is repellent." It's as though, along with Letterman, the Edwards affair rearing its ugly head again, and the Polanski rape case coming to the fore, reality has outdone fiction.