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Why David Letterman should realize that infidelity is no joke


David Letterman should know that infidelity is no joke.
Photo: AP/ John P. Filo

Someone should inform David Letterman that infidelity is no joke.

Just ask any person -- male or female -- who has ever been cheated on.

Does Letterman’s wife, Regina Lasko, think his workplace sexual escapades are a laughing matter?

She has been betrayed by her new husband (they were married in March of this year), the father of her 5 year old son, and her long-time lover ( they’ve been seeing each other for over 20 years.). The apology he made to her during the taping of his this afternoon which is schedule to air tonight, is apology is way overdue.

Granted, under the circumstances, Letterman probably had no choice but to go public with the story of how and why Robert (Joe) Haldeman allegedly tried to blackmail him. Halderman allegedly attempted to extort $2 million from Letterman under the threat of exposing his sexual relationships with female members of his staff. Letterman’s breaking the news himself on Thursday night’s show, was a form of damage control.

Letterman’s confession that he had sex with some of his female employees was bad enough. (See article entitled David Letterman Broke 2 Cardinal Rules Governing Workplace Romance) But the manner in which he revealed these workplace affairs made the situation that much worse.

So far, only two women, Stephanie Birkitt and Holly Hester, have come forward. We still don’t know how many women were actually involved.

Letterman made light of the matter, and had his studio laughing raucously, instead of treating his infidelity as the serious matter that it is.

Infidelity Causes Many of Society’s Problems

Directly or indirectly, infidelity is responsible for many of the problems in society today – divorce, broken homes, troubled teens, domestic violence, financial ruin, the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, alcoholism, drug addiction, murder, assault, and suicide, just to name a few.

• Numerous distraught or enraged victims of infidelity have killed or seriously injured their cheating mates.

• Countless cheaters have been assaulted, maimed, or murdered by their mistress’s or lover’s spouse or significant other.

• Families have been forced onto the welfare rolls because of irresponsible cheaters who abandoned their families for the Other Woman of the Other Man.

• Illicit affairs have led to unwanted pregnancies which, in turn, have led to abortions or abandoned babies.

• Many infidelity victims turn to drug or alcohol addiction as a means of coping with their betrayal.

• Cheaters who refuse to practice safe sex are responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

• Many husbands and wives are facing financial ruin because a cheating spouse used family funds to finance his or her affair.

• Countless episodes of domestic violence are triggered by infidelity – a cheating husband overcome by guilt comes home and batters his unsuspecting wife -- or a husband batters a cheating wife.

• Many infidelity victims unable to cope with betrayal, have committed suicide.

None of these things are laughing matters.

We Need to Stop Treating Infidelity as a Joke

Yet infidelity continues to be treated as a form of entertainment. It’s the butt of many jokes, and is a recurring theme in soap operas, novels movies, talk shows, and gossip columns.

Infidelity has become such a popular form of entertainment that at first Letterman’s audience thought his confession was just another joke.

Yet, infidelity, in one form or another, affects an estimated 80% of all marriages and committed relationships today.

Whenever infidelity is glamorized, dramatized or trivialized by someone in the public eye, or treated as a form of entertainment, it does nothing to discourage others from cheating on their mates.

Though Letterman issued apologies to his wife, and to female staff members, he still elicited laughs from his studio audience for a few infidelity-related comments he made.

It’s time for Letterman – and everybody else - to stop treating infidelity like it’s a joke.

Unless we start treating infidelity with the seriousness it deserves, the infidelity epidemic will continue to spread.

*** © copyright 2009 Ruth Houston

Ruth Houston is a New York-based infidelity expert who is frequently called on by the media to comment on infidelity issues in the news. She is the author of Is He Cheating on You? - 829 Telltale Signs, the founder of and publishes the Infidelity News and Views blog at .

For more more information on the topic of workplace romance, office affairs, and workplace or work spouse infidelity, see

David Letterman Broke 2 Cardinal Rules Governing Workplace Romance

Do Work Spouse Relationships Lead to Workplace Affairs?

14 Ways Your Work Spouse Relationship Could Sabotage Your Career

5 Infidelity Trends Likely to Affect You

Business Travel And Infidelity - How Cheating Men Use Business Travel to Hide Their Affairs

13 Things You Didn't Know About Signs of Infidelity

Free Infidelity Tip Sheets and Special Reports


  • Ruth 5 years ago

    I agree with you to an extent. I do not believe that Letterman thinks the situation is funny. He makes people laugh for a living and, in my opinion, was trying to put a humorous spin on the horrible story just to get the story out to the public. I think he was wrong in his adulturous actions; but, absolutely right in blowing the whistle the way that he did. Further, I haven't seen the taping of his show yet, but, you assume he has not yet apologiezed to Regina and doing so on air was the first time that he issued an apology. I'm bettiing it wasn't. Infidelity is wrong and it is found all over our society. Letterman isn't the first or the last man to cheat; he shouldn't be treated as such.

  • Matt Roberts-New Orleans Top News Examiner 5 years ago

    I couldn’t agree more with what you said; personally I think Letterman should be held accountable for his actions. You have to wonder if these female staff members felt pressured to have sex with Dave because of his position with CBS. If CBS fails to act on this what kind of message does that send to their female viewers as well as other female employees at CBS? If this had happened anywhere else Letterman would have been terminated or at the very least written up for his sexual misconduct. The rules apply no matter who you are.

  • Mike Techno 5 years ago

    Ruth, you are wrong here. It is the "institution of marriage" that is actually a joke, and should be treated as such. Do you want to know why so many me cheat in today's world? Because humans were never intended to be in life long, committed, monogamous relationships in the first place! It isn't the act of infidelity that should be stopped, it is the act of marriage that should be. We have all been collectively brain washed by religions in our society to believe that marriage and monogamy are normal and natural, when in reality they are entirely abnormal and unnatural and we shouldn't be taking either one seriously. Humans were never intended to be with one person for the their entire lives and the mere suggestion that they should be is biologically absurd. The "institution of marriage" is a flawed, failed experiment that never should have been allowed to ever become entrenched in our society in the first place. It is high time we moved on and evolved beyond it now...finally!

  • T. Tavi 5 years ago

    It's not that infidelity isn't serious, it's just that it's not quite the thing that you cast it to be.

    My father cheated on my mother, many times. I know infidelity, believe me. But I also know that it's a complex matter, Ms. Houston, and as such it doesn't bear your kind of reductionism very well. Infidelity is as old as humanity itself. In that long, long life span, it has at times most certainly been a joke—the cuckold comes to mind.

    Infidelity has also spawned wars ... and led people to put aside bad relationships. It has resulted in broken marriages ... and dearly beloved children. It has ticked people off ... and made them exuberantly happy. It has led to suicide ... and it has led people to reexamine what it means to live life happily.

    But the question is, could you have made your career treating infidelity more evenhandedly, more like the complex matter that it actually is?

  • From A Male 5 years ago

    Infidelity is one of the worse things that one person can to another. The only thing worse than cheating on one's spouse is murder. The pain is that intense.

    Unless you have never been cheated on, you will not know just how horrible being the victim of infidelity can be.

    It is a very sorry comment on society that so many people don't care about what happens to other people. Until it happens to them.

  • Victor--Seattle Singles Scene 5 years ago

    I hate to take issue with a fellow writer, but I agree with Ruth and Mike. I don't think Letterman was making light of his infidelity or infidelity in general. I think Letterman was making light of the media blitz that is the result of the 21st century 24 hour news cycle. I don't recall him talking about his infidelity or infidelity in general and implying it's no big deal. In fact, I recall him talking about his infidelity and implying he's got a lot of repair to his credibility at work and home to do. Also, the reality is infidelity is a way of life because the way we practice marriage is outdated. The expectation of "until death do you part" is a remnant from the days when we we lived in small farm towns and our life expectancy was 30! Now, most of us live in and around big cities and expect to live into our 70s. It is more fantasy than reality to expect a male to find only one female he wants to see naked in front of him his whole life!