David Letterman's Sex Scandal With Female Staffers Is a Big Headline in 2009

Biggest Headline of '09: The David Letterman Scandal

On Oct. 1, David Letterman announced during a taping of his show that he'd had affairs with female staffers in the past. While it didn't come as a surprise to a majority of you, there's no doubting that this was huge news (PopSugar Rush even mentioned it in their biggest stories this year).

The late-night host revealed that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt, with a man threatening to go public with the information unless Letterman coughed up $2 million. Instead, Letterman chose to have the blackmailer arrested and come clean to the public about his indiscretions himself.

It was a bold move and one that put the funny man on the receiving end of the jokes. To take another look at what happened, read more.

In the following weeks, more details came out about the scandal, namely that the man accused of extortion was actually Robert "Joe" Halderman, the live-in boyfriend of former staffer Stephanie Birkitt. Birkitt and Letterman had called it quits before his son Harry was born in 2003 — and before he married long-time girlfriend, Regina Lasko — but Halderman had reportedly discovered letters of Birkitt's which detailed her romance with Letterman.

A few days after the initial incident, Letterman used his show once again to seek forgiveness from his wife and his staffers; he also threw in some jokes to add levity to the situation. Letterman's apology was good to see, but many (including myself) felt that his humor lessened his sincerity. Still, the mess didn't seem to diminish his public image as much as one might think. Not only did most of you say that it didn't change how you feel about him, but ratings for The Late Show With David Letterman acutally improved as people tuned in to see what sort of admission he might make next.

As for how Letterman's doing now? Just last week as news of the Tiger Woods scandal hit its boiling point, he used the situation to once again take jabs at himself in his opening monologue, saying "I wish [Tiger] would stop calling me for advice." It seems to suggest that Letterman is going to continue to own up to his actions.

What do you think about Letterman's scandal now that we're a little more removed from it? Have you put it in the past, or does it still taint how you feel about him?

For lots of other headlines and highlights from the year, check out all of my Best of 2009 coverage.

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