David Letterman apologizes to former ‘Late Night’ staffer 10 years after being accused of ‘sexual favoritism’

Former late-night host David Letterman offered an apology to a former staffer 10 years after she accused him of what she called “sexual favoritism” among the women who worked for him.

Comedy writer Nell Scovell penned a Vanity Fair piece in 2009 after Letterman admitted on his show that he was being blackmailed for $2 million over revelations that he’d slept with women on his staff.

Scovell wrote that she learned during her five-month tenure on NBC’s “Late Night” in 1990 that few women had been hired as writers, and that Letterman had preferences for staffers who accepted his advances.

“Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no,” she wrote.

Scovell explained at the time that she chose to speak out because “people who have no knowledge of the situation are voicing opinions, so why not me?” noting the defense Letterman received from Barbara Walters, who then was co-hosting “The View.” She also expressed hope that her commentary would help improve “the situation for female writers” which she noted had not improved since she left late-night comedy.

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Ten years later, Letterman agreed to sit down with her. She asked him to read her piece as “homework.”

“You know, the other night I read the piece that you wrote 10 years ago,” Letterman began in a follow-up piece written by Scovell on Wednesday. “And I thought, Holy s—, this is so disturbing and, sadly, a perspective that I did not have because the only perspective I had was in here… I’m sorry I was that way and I was happy to have read the piece because it wasn’t angering. I felt horrible because who wants to be the guy that makes people unhappy to work where they’re working? I don’t want to be that guy. I’m not that guy now. I was that guy then.”

Letterman told Scovell he didn’t read her piece at the time because he was more focused on saving his marriage than the show. He also revealed how he’s had talks with his now-15-year-old son about the controversy.

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“I didn’t want to lose my family and I worked and worked and worked until I learned the obvious lessons,” Letterman explained. “I mean, I shouldn’t have had to learn them because they were obvious. I knew what I was doing was not good.”

He continued, “My son knows about this period of my life. We have conversations about girls and about his mother and how we treat her. I don’t think he will make these mistakes, and I’m sorry I did.”

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