In case you havent heard the latest celebrity gossip, comedian and talk show host David Letterman recently jumped into his car early one morning and found a package on the back seat. Inside were the details of many not-so-good things he apparently did and a threat that unless he paid a sum of money (later revealed to be $2 million) the author of the package would write a screenplay and reveal all of Daves nasty happenings.
“...a man confesses to having sex with who knows how many of his co-workers and he is rewarded with laughter and applause.”
Now, Im not for a minute going to say that extortion and blackmail are in any way acceptable. The suspect, Robert Halderman, an Emmy award winning news producer, has been arrested and it appears the case will go to trial.
But my question came after viewing how Dave handled his confession. Using his talk show as a platform, he managed to turn what would be a devastating situation for any of us not privileged to have a network audience, into a comedic ratings grabber. Check this YouTube clip for the complete segment (recognizing, obviously, that it discusses the sexual generalities of the accusation):
What a sad state we have reached when a man confesses to having sex with who knows how many of his co-workers (underlings may be more accurate) and he is rewarded with laughter and applause. What I want to know is if the studio floor director was giving the audience instructions as to when the serious moment was coming. That sudden silence that allows Dave a few seconds to make his apology just hits me as being staged and manufactured -- thats what media does best.
Rod Gustafson has worked in various media industries since 1977. He founded Parent Previews in 1993, and today continues to write and broadcast the reviews in newspapers, on radio and (of course) on the Internet. He currently serves as the President of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness, a provincial non-profit society. He also authors a regular column for The Parent's Television Council in Los Angeles. He and his wife Donna have four children.