David Letterman’s power and position have allowed him to take advantage of female staffers who are lower in rank than him. Letterman only saw these women as objects of his sexual desire, with dating not even a consideration. No one knows if he cared for these women at all.
These affairs have just as much to do with power as they do sex. Letterman far outranks these women, who are dependent upon their jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table. To say no to Letterman would result in death. One such woman, according to TMZ, Stephanie Birkitt, was Letterman’s assistant. Had she said no, Letterman could’ve easily replaced her with a new assistant.
Letterman is in a position to get his way. Someone with his status could literally get away with murder, and many celebrities in his position have. Someone like Letterman isn’t punished in our culture. In our hierarchical society, there are different laws for celebrities and different laws for the poor. The police and courts automatically believe someone of higher status over someone of lower status who is to toe the line and conform.
Robert Halderman, the producer who attempted to extort Letterman, was in no position to try and force money from the talk show host. Extortion only works when both parties are close to being equal in power. Even if a butler has dirt on his wealthy boss, there is little that he can do with it. Tell-all books are writing by someone who is close to being equal in power to the subject of the book, not servants.
Letterman made these women dirty and then aired this dirty laundry in public. Stephanie Birkitt, like Monica Lewinsky, will forever be known for only one thing. Anything that she has accomplished professionally has been wiped out. The Letterman women will have this cloud hanging over them for life, while Letterman only has to worry about waiting for it to blow over.
This problem is much larger than a talk host using his position to have sex with his female subordinates. Our society as a whole must treat everyone the same and hold each person accountable for their actions despite their power and status.