Podcast #62: Letterman's Glass House

By now, everyone knows about David Letterman’s recent confessions, but not everyone agrees on just how aggravated we should be by the whole thing. Ben and Rich discuss this, plus pop-culture’s emphasis on community, and reality television’s exploitation of the uncool.

Every week, Richard Clark and Ben Bartlett sit back and discuss the posts of the previous week on Christ and Pop Culture, acknowledge and respond to the big issues in popular culture, and give a sneak peak at the week ahead. We love feedback! If you’d like to respond you can comment on the website, send an email to christandpopculture@gmail.com, or go to our contact page. We would love to respond to feedback on the show, so do it now! Subscribe to us in iTunes by clicking here. While you’re at it, review us in iTunes! We’ll love you forever!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I really appreciate Rich’s taglines, but I think I would push this question a little further… should we react more strongly?

    I guess it just surprises me that we can react so strongly to an affair with one staff worker by some no-name congressman from a different state, but not nearly so strongly to a consistent pattern of unethical behavior from a man whose humor sets a tone of a particular flavor of morality. Doesn’t his influence on the public have a lot more impact than a lone congressman? So why are the reactions to his behavior so generous, just because he apologized?

  • Jason

    I agree, he is an adulterer. The only reason he came forward in the first place was because he wanted to nail the guy blackmailing him. It’s kind of like the parable in the bible where the king lets a servant off for a huge amount and then the servant has his servant thrown in jail for such a little price. David has committed adultry many times, but the guy who was blackmailing him got arrested. Makes no sense at all.

  • Well, I mean one of those things is pretty darn illegal.

  • Chase Livingston

    Ben: Generally, I don’t react strongly. Perhaps, I should. For me, it wasn’t that he apologized (see below).

    Jason: I disagree. While he clearly is interested in “busting this guy”, he stated his concern to protect his family, the women involved, and his staff. It would have been foolish of him not to report the incident. Letterman brought this on himself in the same way that any of us brings hardship on ourselves–by sin. But, Robert “Joe” Halderman initiated this particular chain of events. If he really wanted justice (and not revenge) he could have gone through the proper channels within CBS.

    Rich: extortion, illegal? pfft…

  • Chase:

    I’m not advocating a witch hunt or anything. My larger problem is the inconsistency- as a culture we tend to react strongly to even a single dalliance by a public official, while the reaction to Letterman is quite muted by comparison.

    Without asking silly subjective questions like, “how much is the right amount of critique?” I’m just pointing out how disproportionate it is. At a normal workplace, a business figure who is caught using company property to have affairs with multiple women under his employ is kicked out pretty quick. And lest we say, “it’s a bigger issue for our leaders,” I say that David Letterman is far more influential in setting the moral tone for millions of viewers than most congressman will ever be.

    So, my problem isn’t so much telling people or new agencies HOW MUCH to react, as simply asking that they fit their reactions proportionally.

  • Jason

    If his concern was for his family, his staff and the women involved, then maybe he might not of had sex with the women in the first place. That would have been the best route for his family, his staff, and for those women. But it is all for David.

    His concern was getting some, while jumping into bed with women other than his wife, he could not have been “concerned” about his family. Or the women involved.

    By calling out this guy, he was not protecting anyone but himself. Now everyone knows his wife has been cheated on, which is a big disgrace, the women involved are looked at as either whores, or taken advantage of, and his family is shamed. While David looks like a hero.

    Ah yes David called out a blackmailer. He is one hero. He cheated, lied, and got caught. But he spared those poor young women, even though now everyone wants to know who they are.

  • I don’t think anyone here or anywhere else considers David a hero. The applause in the audience struck me as more of an awkward time-filler than anything.

    And something that’s bugging me: When someone says something like, “If his concern was for his family, his staff and the women involved, then maybe he might not of had sex with the women in the first place,” I start to wonder what sort of incredibly perfect person I am talking to. Are you really saying that you never hurt those you are concerned about, that you never make mistakes that conflict with who you are or aspire to be?

    I guess I’m struggling to figure out where the gospel is in all of this. Isn’t David’s sin and subsequent acknowledgment of the repercussions of that sin exactly the sort of prerequisite for the gospel that scripture speaks of? Don’t we need Christ because we fall short of our moralistic aspirations and not because we’re so good at avoiding them?

  • Also, referencing my previous article, I want to point out that these things aren’t always all that simple. Just because I claim the blackmailer did a bad thing doesn’t mean Letterman is the good guy here. What if they’re both bad guys? What if we all are?

  • Jason

    I wasn’t saying I’m perfect, but a guy who says he was “concerned” for those people, and thats why he came out is a good way to make him look like the good guy. He is using that word “concerned” as a prop to make him look better. He also could have been more discrete about it rather than making a big spectacle on his show. No doubt his veiwership will go up.

    But all in all, his response to his sin was an “I’m sorry I got caught” instead of an “I’m sorry, it has been eating away at me since”

    His intent was to catch that guy in a scheme. Not to be remorseful, and truly repentant of what he has done.

  • Jason

    I never said you or anyone else here thinks he is a good guy. I’m saying the world veiws him as a hero.

  • We’re going to have to agree to disagree.

  • You don’t have to. You can just disagree with out even agreeing to do so. It’s one of my favourite methods.

  • Jason

    I agree…………

    ………….or do I disagree?

  • I completely agree.

  • Chase Livingston

    Ben: I agree.

    In TIME, James Poniewozik writes, “With politicians and personalities alike we tend to overlook transgressions, barring an actual crime, if they deliver for us” and “of course, we are always ready to be deeply outraged over the moral failings of people we didn’t like to begin with.”

    I recommend the article.

    Jason: To be clear, Letterman is not my hero. I don’t have a lot of heroes. He may have been at one time but that was many years ago. The idea of hero seems to include that they cannot disappoint. Everyone disappoints.

    Letterman has never presented himself as a traditional family man. He’s always a little too friendly with the ladies, and wasn’t in a hurry to get married. So none of this is a huge surprise. Adultery? Yes. Scandalous? Yes. But I don’t think I am qualified to measure the truthfulness of his apology.

    Indeed, there are consequences and I’m not suggesting his apology gets him in the clear. It doesn’t work that way.

    The Dane: This has always been one of my favorite methods.