Letterman and Ensign: Talk Show Host and the Senator Share Sordid Stage

Two items on the same page in the New York Times today: David Letterman being extorted by a producer, who was then arrested, with Letterman confessing that he’d “had sex with women who worked for him.” The second story was about Nevada Senator Ensign’s affair with a member of his campaign staff (who is the wife of a former member of his Senate staff) becoming messier because he’d used his position to get work for the husband, presumably to mollify the guy and hide the affair.

In our home Bible study this week we covered Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 that if you look with lust on a woman it is as bad as committing the act of adultery. God looks on the heart. Jesus’ teaching is enough to keep anyone (at least me and anyone I know) from becoming self-righteous about public figures who commit sexual sins in the workplace.

I’d wish, however, that Letterman—while rather grim about the extortion and his understandable fear for himself and his family during the ordeal—nonetheless made light of his philandering with employees. It didn’t help that the audience, geared for endless humor, while hearing a rather serious story and couldn’t figure out that they didn’t have to laugh or applaud.
Here’s the clip.

It would be refreshing if Letterman showed some remorse for his failure to set a reasonable standard of decency with his private life, which became public, and in creating a safe and decent workplace. CBS will keep him rolling as long as his ratings, quite good of late, remain high.

Audiences should abandon him unless he shows more character and class in admitting that his actions were inappropriate and a bad example to all. His explanation on his program was no mea culpa. This news was going to break anyway; he just sought to to put his own spin on it before it did. Nothing wrong with that, but it was incomplete.

Ensign, too, has been dreadful and there is no question that because of his violation of trust he should resign his position. I know, there are a number of Democrats and some other Republicans that should resign, as well. They just weren’t in the New York Times today.


About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
This entry was posted in Communications, Culture, Ethics, Family, Jim Jewell, Leaders, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letterman and Ensign: Talk Show Host and the Senator Share Sordid Stage

  1. Jim Jewell says:

    It will be up to viewers to comment on Letterman's actions. ABC News reports: The scandal hasn't yet dented the late night host's popularity. Ratings of "The Late Show" jumped 38 percent on Thursday compared to the same night a week ago as allegations about an extortion plot and Letterman addressing the case during his show surfaced earlier in the day. Several major advertisers have already announced they are sticking with the show, saying they are more interested in the improved ratings than Letterman's personal life.

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