David Letterman: Freedom of speech victim, or self-censoring?


Ever since David Letterman delivered his extraordinary revelations last Thursday, I’ve been checking in at CBS’ website for that 10-minute clip. I wanted to embed the clip in what I wrote about the incident, so you could see it for yourself and compare your opinion against mine.

But as The New York Times reports, not only has that clip never been placed on CBS’ website, but the network is doing its best to keep it off YouTube as well. As a result, now you can’t even see the Letterman clip on my original post about the extortion and sex story.

CBS’ reasoning is obvious, from a big-business perspective: CBS most likely finds Letterman’s meticulously worded mea culpa embarrassing and thinks the controversy will go away faster if it makes the clip go away. Another way to look at this: a source close to the Late Show confirmed to EW that Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants asked CBS to not stream the video and the network obliged.

Either way, I think it’s a mistake. Now there are tons of people who’ll keep trying to post that clip to defy the network’s clampdown. Meanwhile, folks will, in their imaginations, misremember what Letterman said, and perhaps think what he admitted to was worse than was actually uttered. (“Hey, didn’t Dave say he also liked to dress up in Johnny Carson’s underwear? No?”)

CBS is clearly keeping track of what gets posted on its website now. You can find Friday’s cheerful interview with Larry David now on CBS.com, but you can’t see that night’s other guest, Olivia Wilde. Why? I suspect it’s because, in the course of telling a story about how she moved into a bus with her husband, the House star said flirtily to Dave, “I’m sure you could get many, many women to move into your car with you.” Uh-oh…

On the CBS website, there’s a written summary of that night’s show, but Wilde’s comment isn’t transcribed.

So if you have Dave’s Thursday admission on your DVR, keep it: You’ve got a collector’s item.

What do you think about the suppression of Letterman’s comments?

Comments (154 total) Add your comment
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  • Andy G.

    I don’t know, the clip’s been all over the news lately, so it’s not like nobody’s seen it legally since the episode. Maybe they’re just trying to stop other people from profiting from it? Or they think they can promote more civil debate if they keep it off of Johnny Anonymous’s blog?

    • Diane

      Then they would post it on their own web page, where they would get the advertising dollars from it.

  • dangelmar

    A tiny bit more research on your part would have revealed that complete episodes of just-aired Late Shows aren’t available on its site for at least a week.

    • Em

      I’m sure Ken T. is aware of the schedule. His point is that, while other watercooler show moments are posted quickly, this one isn’t, and its absence is conspicuous.

    • April

      No, Ken is right. Usually the very next day, at least on YouTube, there’s always some clips of the show from the night before.

      It’s how I watch them.

  • Entertainment2u-Twitter

    Ken — you’re not looking hard enough. You can still find it on YouTube — and Letterman’s full 10-minute announcement is here on my home page as well:


  • marik

    A corporation named CBS acting just like the Chinese government, only less effectively.

    I guess that’s what freedom means.

    • sarita

      um, CBS isn’t responsible for upholding our freedoms…our government is!

  • Yuck

    It’s like they think if they remove all clips, and flood the internet with comments about how it’s no big deal and a private matter, it will all just go away. This clip problem is an example of what’s to come. Even the Larry David interview has comments about how Larry gets the least sex for a guy with his own show except for Dave and Dave reacts to this. The Larry David interview awkward and Dave was clearly distracted and Larry David was getting offended.

    Everything Letterman does from now on is going to be put under the microscope and mocked. Aside from the creepy factor, this is going to be an issue for the show

    • swthompson


  • Casey

    i’ve seen it on several blogs, it’s not hard to find out where they’re linking to…

  • Happy Troll

    Guess who’s laughing hardest at Letterman’s dilemma? First name, Sarah, last name, Palin. Talk about an act of God…

    • Ken

      Which one was the “act of God”, Dave having sex or someone trying extort 2 mil from him……

    • Dan K

      You forgot her middle name: Moron

    • Em

      Right, because God loves it when people laugh at other people’s dilemnas.

    • John

      Sarah Who?

    • Lola K

      No ..WRONG…Haldeman’s laughing…turned the focus off HIS crime….come on people!!!

  • Long Time Fan

    Letterman’s old NBC shows have been censored for years now, locked up by NBC so no one can compare his genius to that of the chosen one Leno, so I guess Dave is used to his image, work and career being manipulated by the “corporate weasels” he often whined about

  • BillS

    I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Who cares about the clip? CBS is right. If they make if available people will just talk about it longer. Dave has a 5 year old son and only just got married last March. Is it a surprise to people to find out he slept around? You should spend more time writng about the idiot that tried to blackmail him.

  • Jeremy

    The dirty old man is in trouble, CBS wants the trouble go away as fast as possible, nice try. What is funnier than making fun of a dirty old man’s sex life?

    • SenorPlaid

      Making fun of you, moron. 39 percent bump in ratings … You think CBS wants to make THAT go away?

      • Mickey99997

        You say, “Dirty Old Man”, like it’s a bad thing. Frankly, I admire the man. I’d do the same in a heartbeat if I could. I just assumed he did. No laws were broken. Nobody was forced. What’s the problem?

  • caro

    i don’t think this will make waves for too long – it isn’t that interesting past the sneaky taboo factor if getting to look into someone else’s business. Surpressing things that are really not that important just loses momentum on its own after a few weeks. And if someone is strongly into freedom of press, there are more deeply felt issues where that can be voiced.

  • TheTruth

    Honestly, who cares… David never even said or implied he wasn’t single at the time. No dates were given. So what?

    • April

      I agree. He was technically single for how long? Now if he were married…

      Moral of the story, don’t s**t where you eat. I can’t believe people are still doing this.

    • Lu Lu

      Even if he wasn’t married, he was in a committed relationship with the mother of his child! She is the one I feel sorry for. Dave is a cad! I’m done watching a hypocrite who made fun of others while he did the exact same thing! Moral Loser!

      • xcd

        Wtf you babbling about lulu? It’s not known at this point whether he had a committed relationship or not. So far he isn’t guilty of anything. This wouldn’t have come out if it wasn’t for that sissy trying to extort Dave. I find it funny that people in here find extortion legal but him having consensual sex with some of his staff in the past very illegal. I think either some of these jerkoffs got butt hurt when Dave mocked their key political figures or maybe they’re just insipid for his jokes (which by the way nobody should’ve taken seriously).

  • SpaceSea

    Who Cares? Dave is just a big old fart anyway. This is a publicity stunt to gain public focus. You’re all as dumb as a bag of hammers!

    • Hattrrrick

      I love it when someone uses the conspiracy theory then calls everyone else dumb. Makes me feel like my education paid off.

  • Jim Doyle

    I watch Letterman twice a week and Conan three times a week. I can identify more with Letterman because I am slightly older than he is. However, I think Conan works harder and is more talented. The fact that Dave has had sex with some of his employees seems pretty natural to me. What good is it to be rich and famous if you can’t enjoy a good sex life?
    I don’t really think it is unusual to learn that a TV “star’ has had sex with staff. I think it is probably pretty common. Most Americans are pretty prudish and have been convinced that sex is evil or as Letterman says “creepy”. Many of us , however, view sex as a natural and nice part of life. I would be willing to bet that William Shatner, for example, enjoyed a sexual relationship with at least one member of the “Boston Legal” crew. I hope so at least. That is, unless, he has gotten too old for sexual adventures. And we all know about “casting couches” and how those in power decide which beautiful actress or handsome actor should be chosen for a role sought by hundreds.
    I also very much enjoyed the moment when Letterman looked into the camera and admitted he had enjoyed sex with one of his staff. Good for you Dave. Be more up front. The next time a beautiful young actress wants to get a little publicity for her career make it clear what you expect. I would if I were in your shoes.

    • kelsey

      I have to admit, at first I didn’t get why a lot of people found this whole thing “creepy.” Now, after reading this comment, I’m starting to understand. That sounds majorly skeezy.

      • Mickey99997

        Many of us don’t really care about how “it sounds” to the prudish. Actually, those of the prudish persuasion sound “majorly skeezy” to me. Now, what does “skeezy” mean?

    • Hattrrrick

      Dude, get out of the stone ages!

    • Dorado

      William Shatner? Eeeewwwww!

      • Mickey99997

        You say “Eeeewwwwww” about William Shatner?

        OK, I can’t wait till you reach his age and folks say that about you.

        Your time is coming, and a lot faster than you think.

  • sarah

    David Letterman doesn’t give a rat’s patoot what anyone thinks, and this will not hurt his career at all. Did getting a BJ from a prostitute hurt Hugh Grant when he was living with Liz Hurley for years? NO. You haters are all hypocrites. You’re flocking to this story like a bad car wreck. Just admit it, this fascinates your dull, dull lives.

    • Hattrrrick

      Bravo Sarah. I’m just intrigued by the fact that people are so pationate about this. Another great example is the John and Kate thingy mabob deal. Who cares? Unemployment is at an all time high, but this is what you want to spend your time thinking about? Oh well. What’s one to do?

      • Dave

        Unemployment is not at an all time high…. it went well over 10% during Reigan’s presidency. Just sharing a little fact I learned today.

      • ben

        ummm…anyone heard of the “Great Depression”? I think unemployment was a wee bit higher back then than now or “Reigan’s” presidency. Our school system has failed, just look at the spelling/grammar in these posts.

      • Hattrrrick

        I’m sorry that you didn’t get my point, but rather took my exaggeration a little too literal.

      • Jen

        Go sarah and Hattrrrick

    • Who?

      Who is Hugh Grant?

    • msojoe

      You are the one doing the posting.

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