Letterman's admission of sex with female staffers insensitive, arrogant, says UB media critic

Release Date: October 2, 2009 This content is archived.


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David Letterman's acknowledgement that he had sexual relations with staff members was tacky and offensive, says UB media critic Elayne Rapping.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thursday night's acknowledgement by "Late Show" host David Letterman that he has had sexual relations with members of his staff was more than a "little story" he had to share with his audience. It was an offensive and tacky write off of his sexual dalliances, says a nationally known media critic and expert on women's issues at the University at Buffalo.

"We are used to this sort of thing by now: powerful men -- married men -- having sex with campaign workers, staff members and women in general who are in less powerful, lower ranking positions," said Elayne Rapping, professor of American studies at UB. "We are used to it. We know the drill. They apologize, they get weepy, they are, at the very least, embarrassed.

"But this is the first time I have heard the man make a joke of it; and to add insult to injury, suggest that it is the women involved who will be most damaged by the scandal.

"The insensitivity -- and arrogance really -- of joking about this kind of thing is a bit startling, especially since the question of sexual harassment has not been answered. After all, he didn't say he had relationships, or even affairs, with these women -- there were apparently more than one -- just 'sex.'

"This makes Bill Clinton and John Edwards look almost chivalrous."

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