In olden days when "a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking" there was a morals clause written into an actor's film contract. The purpose was to restrain an actor from engaging in public behavior that might offend the audience and harm ticket sales.
Today, lewd and crude behavior can boost ticket sales and TV ratings and what passes for a morals clause deals with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Which brings me to David Letterman's recent disclosure that he has had sex with female subordinates who worked on his show. Much of the coverage has mentioned that this was before his marriage to his live-in girlfriend of more than a decade with whom he fathered a child. Some wish to draw a moral distinction between fornication and adultery. It is something like the line Whoopi Goldberg tried to draw on "The View" between rape and what she called "rape rape" while discussing director Roman Polanski's 1977 sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. Hey, if Woody Allen (a signer of the petition for going easy on Polanski) can marry his adopted daughter when he was the lover of Mia Farrow, who is to say any line exists between anything?
On his show, Letterman admitted only to "creepy" behavior. Does this make him a "creep"? Not in our modern cultural view of morality. To admit to being a creep would exact a moral judgment and suggest a line exists that divides the creep from the non-creep.
CBS president Leslie Moonves is unlikely to be helpful in the Letterman affair(s) as rumor has it that while he was still married he famously "dated" a subordinate by the name of Julie Chen, who coincidentally was promoted to co-host of the network's morning show. I'm sure Ms. Chen got her job based on merit and no other considerations entered into her selection.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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