In the wake of the arrest of director/rapist Roman Polanski comes the sex-with-subordinates scandal of David Letterman. The timing was a blessing for Letterman, since his aggressive excuse-makers now could quickly assert that the female employees he exploited were all adults and all gave their consent.
Letterman's habit of engaging in sex with women who are his employees only emerged because of an ugly extortion threat from a longtime CBS News producer who lived with one of Letterman's conquests. That's doubly embarrassing for CBS, which has character problems coming and going. Letterman added to the embarrassment by revealing the extortion and his behavior in a jokey manner on his show. CBS had enough distaste for the explanation to have it pulled off YouTube and try to keep people from seeing it. (Wouldn't it be nice if CBS had similar standards for its other programming, like, oh, most everything on MTV?)
In a second attempt at an apology, Letterman was more sincere. But in the morality challenged entertainment community, Letterman knew he could surround himself with friends who found nothing to condemn or even question.
"He's the greatest host in the world," said fellow comedian Chris Rock in an adoring haze. "I would never make a disparaging comment about David Letterman." Steve Martin offered this friendly take to Letterman: "It proves that you're a human being, and we weren't really that sure before."
Even celebrities few recognize (or remember) are stepping up to defend Letterman. "I don't see anything wrong with it," said Sandra Denton, better known as half of the rap duo Salt-N-Pepa. "I might have been one of the girls. He's a man ... and he's kind of cute!"
Susie Essman, who stars on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," said people should treat the matter like adults. "I wasn't like, 'Oh, not Dave. It couldn't be! ... He had a relationship with somebody. What's the big deal? He wasn't married. He wasn't cheating on his wife."
This is where the situational ethics in the egocentric world of entertainment begins to look ridiculous. Letterman didn't marry longtime companion Regina Lasko until March, but they're been together since 1986, and they had a son together five years ago. So was he free to cheat on her because they weren't married? Here we go again: Conservatives are held to moral standards because they have them; liberals aren't because they don't.