During last night’s taping of CBS’ “Late Show,” David Letterman told his studio audience that he was the victim of an extortion plot and confessed to having sex with staff members.
“This morning, I did something I’ve never done in my life,” Letterman said. “I had to go downtown and testify before a grand jury.”
According to the veteran talk show host’s producer, Letterman said that three weeks ago, he received a package from an individual who claimed to have information about Letterman’s sexual relationships with female employees of the “Late Show.”
The person threatened to go public with the information if Letterman did not pay $2 million.
Letterman said he referred the matter to the Special Prosecution Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which Letterman said conducted an investigation that included issuing a phony $2 million check to the individual.
Letterman said the person was arrested earlier today.
Letterman also said he acknowledged having sexual relationships with members of his staff during his grand jury testimony.
“My response to that is, yes I have,” Letterman said. “Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would — especially for the women. But that’s a decision for them to make if they want to talk about the relationship … what you don’t want is for a guy to say, ‘Oh, I know he had sex with women so I’d like $2 million dollars.'”
“I feel like I need to protect these people — I need to certainly protect my family.”
Letterman married his longtime girlfriend, Regina Lasko, in March.
When asked for comment, a CBS spokesperson said, “Mr. Letterman’s comments on the broadcast tonight speak for themselves.”
The talk-show host is coming off having one of his best weeks in the ratings, beating “The Tonight Show” in viewers and the adult demo thanks to high-profile guests such as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Letterman enjoyed his largest victory over “Tonight” since 1994.
The news also follows Letterman’s high-profile media fight with Sarah Palin in June, and his subsequent apology, over a crude joke he made about her daughter.
UPDATE: CBS says extortion suspect was a producer at the network who worked on the primetime investigative news magazine show “48 Hours.”
Here’s the statement:
“CBS was made aware of an ongoing police investigation involving David Letterman and an employee at “48 Hours,” who was subsequently arrested earlier today on charges of attempted grand larceny in the first degree. CBS is cooperating fully with the authorities and the employee has been suspended pending the results of the investigation. Mr. Letterman addressed the issue during the show’s broadcast this evening, and we believe his comments speak for themselves.”