October 7, 2009

Letterman's "stance is that of the proverbial court jester, a clownish figure with a mandate to prick the powerful -- not set himself up as a model of virtue."

Says Tom Shales. Via Instapundit ("transparent weasels").

But the question is sexual harassment, so: Ask not whether he has a mandate to prick the powerful, ask whether he has a prick to mandate the powerless.

105 comments:

jag said...

Famous people can't be held to the same standards of workplace behavior as normal people! Everyone knows that.

Expat(ish) said...

Nicely played Costanza.

-XC

wv: lamitri - ewwww!

AllenS said...

But, it's not prick-prick, so it doesn't count.

John said...

Did Leterman demand sex as a condition of employment or did he just sleep with staffers who had a fame and power kink? If it is the former, then yes it is sexual harrasment. If it is the latter, then it is just Leterman enjoying the perks of being famous.

lucid said...

@Ann
razor-sharply said. really nice.

DBrooks17 said...

"ask whether he has a prick to mandate the powerless."

Nicely phrased, and accurate.

lucid said...

@John--
if you have sex with a supervisee, even if the supervisee volunteers, you are very arguably disadvantaging the other supervisees who don't sleep with you. they can sue. thus birkitt, who slept with letterman, got to appear in skits. who else didn't because she was on the sheets?

kentuckyliz said...

Excellent twist of phrase. Well done!

We got into gossip last night--I hadn't heard that John Edwards is about to publicly acknowledge being the father of the bastard child. (Not like it's not already obvious or anything.)

I think the timing for him would be excellent:

Roman Polanski. John's bit of stuff was of legal, consenting age.

David Letterman. John's bit of stuff was not an employee. (Independent contractor, I assume.)

Strike while the iron's hot, Johnny boy. There's worse purves sucking up the news attention right now. You'd look good by comparison.

Roger J. said...

With any luck Mr Letterman will be Bobbited by Mrs Letterman--now THAT would be funny--the top ten list of having my prick prick lopped off. I can see it now. I might even watch the smug asshole doing that schick.

John said...

"if you have sex with a supervisee, even if the supervisee volunteers, you are very arguably disadvantaging the other supervisees who don't sleep with you. they can sue. thus birkitt, who slept with letterman, got to appear in skits. who else didn't because she was on the sheets?"

You have to prove that he favored the women he slept with over the ones he didn't to their deteriment. Appearing in skits doesn't quite rise to that level. In the end, I don't think merely sleeping with subordinates ought to count as sexual harrasment.

I am not saying Letterman is a good guy or a good husband. But, I really don't understand why this is such a big deal or anyone cares. Women love famous and powerful men. If you are famous and powerful, women will throw themselves at you. It is neither notable nor surprising that some powerful men take advantage of that.

Scott said...

When some pig with Democrat leanings or some (assumed leftish) media type gets caught using their status to ply sexual favors from a subordinate or minor, doesn't the press ask the opinion of women's organizations anymore?

I guess feminism must be dead.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ricpic said...

Ask not, huh? JFK was also big in the prick department.

garage mahal said...

I don't know, was he mean to Sarah?

John said...

"When some pig with Democrat leanings or some (assumed leftish) media type gets caught using their status to ply sexual favors from a subordinate or minor, doesn't the press ask the opinion of women's organizations anymore?"

If he is a pig, why aren't the women pigs to? They were sleeping with a married man to get ahead in their jobs. There is no evidence he coerced them into anything or threatened to fire them if they didn't submit. They seem to be willing participants. Yet, Letterman is the pig who should lose his job and they are "victims". Bunk to that.

MadisonMan said...

I think there should be different standards for Politicians and Clerics vs. Late Night TV hosts.

Does that make me a weasel?

traditionalguy said...

The perils of sex with a woman at work that you are not married to: If the woman wants nothing, then she is probably mentally ill. If the man is rich and powerful, then she wants that relationship for future considerations to be named later; however if the man is a plain supervisor type, then she wants that relationship for a promotion and/or a lawsuit payoff. Anyway you cut it, the man is screwed too.

Scott said...

We don't know what their motivation for sleeping with David Letterman was. They could just be entertainment industry star f***ers. In any case, their motivations are not relevant to my point, namely that bosses must not have sex with subordinates. Aside from the fact that it's really stupid, there is a power dynamic that implies that any such sex is coerced -- Letterman would have a hard time proving it wasn't.

Sexual harassment in the workplace was a signature issue of the National Organization for Women in their heyday. Why are they silent now? Has their battle been won?

Lem said...

Our policy reads..

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to the conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a condition of the individual’s employment; (2) submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for an employment decision affecting the harassed employee; or (3) the harassment has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the employee’s work performance or creating an environment which is intimidating, hostile or offensive to the employee.

John said...

"We don't know what their motivation for sleeping with David Letterman was. They could just be entertainment industry star f***ers. In any case, their motivations are not relevant to my point, namely that bosses must not have sex with subordinates. Aside from the fact that it's really stupid, there is a power dynamic that implies that any such sex is coerced -- Letterman would have a hard time proving it wasn't."

That is complete BS and really demeaning to women. What, beautiful women don't have power over men? If sleeping with a subordinate is bad, then sleeping with your boss is just as bad. those women knew what they were doing and are adults. Whatever sins Letterman committed, they are just as guilty of. If you want to have a fair system, let the women who didn't sleep with Letterman sue both Letterman and the women who did.

Hoosier Daddy said...

When some pig with Democrat leanings or some (assumed leftish) media type gets caught using their status to ply sexual favors from a subordinate or minor, doesn't the press ask the opinion of women's organizations anymore?

Because Dems and liberals are the traditional allies of women's groups. That means they can fuck them privately but publically they'll stand stalwart alongside them to make sure the rest of us follow the rules. I'm sure the NOW folks are fine with that as long as it's for the greater cause. Just lie back and think of England you know.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I am not saying Letterman is a good guy or a good husband. But, I really don't understand why this is such a big deal or anyone cares.

It is because it is a misuse of power and position. It wouldn't matter if it was Oprah sleeping with the employees. It is still sexual harassment.

Even if the sleepees/subordinates are 'willing', as you say ....there is the possibility that they were not really 'willing' but instead felt a pressure or coercion to have sex with the boss. Maybe they thought it would help them in their careers. Maybe they were afraid that if they didn't sleep with the boss they would be passed over for promotion.

Sexual harassment isn't just man on woman. It can also be the woman harassing the men.

IN this case it is Letterman being the predator. Letterman is the one who misused his position of authority and power. Also the one who couldn't keep his prick in his pants where it belongs as a married man, a father and as an employer.

lucid said...

@John--
So if a professor sleeps with a student in his/her class, the other students would have no reason to object?

Big Mike said...

@John, you are trying to argue both sides of the issue at the same time.

John at 9:05 defending Letterman: "You have to prove that he favored the women he slept with over the ones he didn't to their deteriment."

John at 9:08 rebutting Scott: "They were sleeping with a married man to get ahead in their jobs."

So which is it? They were drawn to Letterman's fame and power and but did not have their careers advanced to the detriment of female staffers who did not provide sexual favors for Letterman? Or they provided their sexual favors as a quid pro quo for career advancement, clearly disadvantaging female staffers who chose not to play along? Arguing out of both sides of your mouth may score you points with a law professor in law school, but out in the real world even a lawyer is supposed to stick with one side.

Scott said...

@john: Okay, so what if the woman subordinate is also butt-ugly?

In any case, I'm gay, so I guess I'm immune to the wiles of office vixens. And, according to your moral math, if I seduce some cute young office stud for a quickie in the men's room, then I'm off the hook because he should have been able to defend himself. Right?

Hoosier Daddy said...

The lesson here is not to sleep with your betters.

Synova said...

"Sexual harassment in the workplace was a signature issue of the National Organization for Women in their heyday. Why are they silent now? Has their battle been won?"

Two words.

Bill Clinton.

"Did Leterman demand sex as a condition of employment or did he just sleep with staffers who had a fame and power kink? If it is the former, then yes it is sexual harrasment. If it is the latter, then it is just Leterman enjoying the perks of being famous."

And how do you know? And how do the employees know that it's NOT required for them to be the perk? They don't. They can't. So even if Letterman does not disadvantage anyone or advantage anyone (and are we really supposing that a boss can be perfectly neutral to someone he or she is getting sexual favors from?) the employees who know of the affair don't know that. There is no way to know for sure if saying "no" will harm your career or cause other problems until after you say "no".

Feminists pre-Clinton spent a lot of time and effort on the crusade to stop the practice of powerful men *expecting* to get perks from the perk pool and those employees being perked *expecting* that the perks were *expected.*

Peter V. Bella said...

Letterman is a Liberal. Liberals are immune from sexual harassment or any other sexual conduct. They are given the benefit of the doubt in their personal conduct. Its the law! The law of hypocrisy.

J Lee said...

Well, one of the sleep-ees apparently had her law school costs paid for by Letterman. Now we get into the question, do other female staffers see that and think the way to get 'fringe benefits' at Worldwide Pants is to drop your panties for the boss? It's not sexual harassment per se, but it's a sign that those who put out can gain benefits outside of their salaries, and not something most businesses' human resources divisions would recommend for their companies' male bosses to practice.

John said...

You people are pathetic and frankly grossly sexist. If there is evidence that Leterman demanded sex as a condition of employment or advancement, then yes he is in the wrong. But absent that, this is nothing but consensual sex between a famous man and groupies.

The idea that these women were thes shrinking violets who felt they had no choice but to sleep with their boss and were coerced by his power is just BS. That is not how the world works. Some women like to sleep with married and powerful men. They do so with their eyes open and by their free will.

Women are not these inferior delicate beings in need of our protection. Women are just as capable of men of being manipulative and immoral.

Further, this is not the military where your boss can literally send you to jail and you can't quit. This is a voluntary job. If those women had really felt threatened or coereced they could have quit or filed suit. This only came to light because the guy was blackmailing Leterman. That tells me that these were very consensual affairs.

It may come as a shock to Althouses readers, but people sleep with each other. They do so for a variety of reasons and not all of them good. The mere fact that a boss is sleeping with a subordinate does not mean that the boss is taking advantage. It may be the opposite. It may be that the subordinate has charms and the boss has little self control. In that case, the power is in the subordinates hands. It all depends on the situation.

It remains to be seen what this situation was. Whatever it was, people need to lose the Victorian idea that women are somehow inferior beings that are pretyed upon by their bosses. It is sexist and demeaning to women and just not true.

John said...

"Well, one of the sleep-ees apparently had her law school costs paid for by Letterman."

So what? Young attractive woman sleeps with old rich man in return for monetary benifits is not exactly news. That is between Leterman and his wife. One thing is for sure, I wouldn't exactly call the woman who got a free trip to law school a victim.

Synova said...

And you can't even stretch your imagination to the point that you can see where knowing that one person got major perks for being perked... I mean pricked... is going to cause a workplace environment that is hostile?

And your answer is... well... if she won't put out she can QUIT?

And so potentially losing your job becomes evidence that it's NOT harassment?

Pogo said...

This makes me rethink the woman who stalked him years back.

Looks like she was merely unsuccessful in doing exactly what Letterman did.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The idea that these women were thes shrinking violets who felt they had no choice but to sleep with their boss and were coerced by his power is just BS.

No one is accusing the women of being shrinking violets that need to be protected. If the case were reversed and it were men sleeping with the boss the situation would be exactly the same. A misuse of position and power and using sex as a tool.

This why sexual harassment laws were devised. It isn't about the sex.

, but people sleep with each other. They do so for a variety of reasons and not all of them good. The mere fact that a boss is sleeping with a subordinate does not mean that the boss is taking advantage. It may be the opposite. It may be that the subordinate has charms and the boss has little self control. In that case, the power is in the subordinates hands.

Yes. People do sleep with each other. However, when it is bosses with subordinates all sorts of other dynamics come into play.

What about the other subordinates who don't sleep with the boss? They are possibly disadvantaged and harmed by the actions of the boss and the subordinates who do have sex with the boss. You can't possibly tell me that you think that the boss OR the subordinates can maintain neutrality after having hot sex in the not so secret sex room. If you say yes, you are either lying or a huge fool.

The laws about sexual harassment are devised to try to prevent things just like this.

There is nothing sexist about it either. "Boo hoo the poor man Taken advantage of by grasping women". Get over yourself. It is about power and misuse of power.
Whether the perpetrator is a man OR a woman the situation is exactly the same.

Scott said...

Laws and corporate policies prohibiting workplace harassment may be overwrought, but at least they encourage a worthy ideal: That your status in an organization should be based on the value you add to it, and not who you have sex with. Norming corruption doesn't make corruption right.

The division I work at in my company has a little too much office incest -- brothers and sisters working together, people getting married and both continuing to work at the company. If we had managers screwing subordinates, it would be totally unpleasant to work here.

Roux said...

Letterman has some stroke in the TV industry. I wonder what would happen to the career of a worker that made an official complaint? My guess is they'd be blackballed. Yes Mr. Letterman it is harassment. It's also bad form.

John said...

"And you can't even stretch your imagination to the point that you can see where knowing that one person got major perks for being perked... I mean pricked... is going to cause a workplace environment that is hostile?"

It could but it doesn't have to. It is not like you expect your boss to pay for your law school. If he was denying the women he didn't sleep with rewards and promotions that they were otherwise entitled to, then yes it is hostile. If he was just giving gratutious gifts to the women he slept with but not denying anything to the women he didn't, then I don't see how that is hostile.

Further, if the women who were sleeping with him were getting things at the expense of the women who didn't, aren't those women equally responsible for the hostile work environment as Letterman? They were chosing to sleep with him and in the process knowingly screwing the other women in the office.

SteveR said...

For most people in a typical workplace, the justifying logic wouldn't work. It would be wrong, period.

That it isn't wrong for him, fine, powerful people get away with crap all the time. Just say so.

John said...

"What about the other subordinates who don't sleep with the boss? They are possibly disadvantaged and harmed by the actions of the boss and the subordinates who do have sex with the boss. You can't possibly tell me that you think that the boss OR the subordinates can maintain neutrality after having hot sex in the not so secret sex room. If you say yes, you are either lying or a huge fool."

They are "possibly disadvantaged"? What the hell does that mean. If Letterman were only promoting people who slept with him, then yes he was sexually harassing women. But if he was just sleeping with willing women and not treating the others unfairly, then what business is it of the courts or yours?

What are you really saying when you talk about the "power dynamic"? You are saying that hte boss has so much power over an employee that it can reneder an otherwise's competant adult's consent somehow invalid like they were a child. That is crap.

Stan said...

Why is it that the animals who are "more equal" turn out to be pigs?

Alex said...

Honestly can't you cons stay out of other people's wangs and poofs?

Alex said...

Scott - you alleged actual incest at your company? Brothers and sisters running the company /= them having sex. You have a VERY sick mind.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You are saying that hte boss has so much power over an employee that it can reneder an otherwise's competant adult's consent somehow invalid like they were a child.

You must have a severe reading comprehension problem. I said no such thing and I don't appreciate you putting words into my mouth.

You are too stupid to argue with.

John said...

"That your status in an organization should be based on the value you add to it, and not who you have sex with."

As long as you have women and men working together, that is a ideal that will never be reached. Women have sexual power over men and women are attracted to powerful men. As long as there are mixed workplaces, there will be men and women having affairs, men using their power to attract women and women using their sexual appeal to manipulate men. That is just how human nature works.

There is a reason why the military objects so viemently to mixed sex infantry units. You can't make people into unisex robots.

Synova said...

"Further, if the women who were sleeping with him were getting things at the expense of the women who didn't, aren't those women equally responsible for the hostile work environment as Letterman? They were chosing to sleep with him and in the process knowingly screwing the other women in the office."

Yes.

Although the boss, being the boss, has a responsibility for managing the workplace. Because he (or she) is the boss. That's what bosses are supposed to do. They've got the authority and with it comes the responsibility. The subordinate does not have the authority nor the responsibility... even if the subordinate is a fully participating prick.

Being in management or being the boss is entirely a voluntary choice. If someone doesn't like being responsible they can quit and do something else.

John said...

"You must have a severe reading comprehension problem. I said no such thing and I don't appreciate you putting words into my mouth.

You are too stupid to argue with."

That is exactly what you were saying. If the consent isn't invalid, why does the woman who slept with him have a case for sexual harrasment. You just don't understand the implications of what you are saying.

And don't call people stupid. It reflects badly on you. It is better just to admit you lost the argument. There is at least some dignity in that. There is no dignity in name calling in lieu of a response.

rhhardin said...

It's the women as emotional basket cases theory of workplace injustice.

John said...

"Although the boss, being the boss, has a responsibility for managing the workplace. Because he (or she) is the boss. That's what bosses are supposed to do. They've got the authority and with it comes the responsibility. The subordinate does not have the authority nor the responsibility... even if the subordinate is a fully participating prick."

What if the subordinate holds out? What if she just flirts and uses her looks to get favor? That happens all the time. Try being an old fat woman in a office with a male boss full of cute young women. You are screwed, even if no one is sleeping with each other.

You are denying reality if you think that we can create a workplace where sexual appeal isn't a factor.

Alex said...

John - ever hear of natural selection? Nature doesn't favor old fat women. That's the way of the world!

David said...

The thing about the sexual harassment laws is that they apply equally to the predatory gold digger female who knows just what she is doing and the insecure woman who may respond to advances our of fear or uncertainty about how the superior man will use his power.

We understand that there is a moral and qualitative difference between the two situations, but the law does not. Plus it is usually not entirely clear which category the woman fits into.

It seems to me that this is an inherent problem with sexual harassment laws. If we want sexual harassment laws we must accept that this ambiguity will always be present.

pduggie said...

"ask whether he has a prick to mandate the powerless"

Good one!

J Lee said...

So what? Young attractive woman sleeps with old rich man in return for monetary benifits is not exactly news. That is between Leterman and his wife. One thing is for sure, I wouldn't exactly call the woman who got a free trip to law school a victim.

Well, congrats for dodging the point of my original post -- It's obvious she made out well by screwing the boss. The point is does this then create a 'positive affirmation' among the other female staffers, as in "If I want my schooling/house/trip to Aruba/whatever paid for, I also have to put out for Dave".

If 'Worldwide Pants' was an independent operator of its own television network and the rule was you could screw your way to bonus pay, then Dave could get away with whatever he wanted up until the point someone filed a harassment and/or discrimination lawsuit. But Letterman sells his show to CBS, which then has to answer if this is standard operating policy for it's other network stars and their production companies.

Unless further revelations come out, I don't think anything's going to come of this, and since Les Moonves married one of his on-air personalities, it's not as though execs shlupping their underlings isn't that unusual at today's CBS. But if you think it's OK for women to see that they get more benefits by spreading their legs, you've probably been watching too many episodes of "Mad Men".

John said...

"But if you think it's OK for women to see that they get more benefits by spreading their legs, you've probably been watching too many episodes of "Mad Men"."

I hate to break this to you, but all women get more benefits by spreading their legs or using the promise of maybe spreading their legs. That is reality. What do you think Letterman's wife married him for his gapped tooth? You think it is a coicindence that old ugly rich men have beautiful wives but old ugly poor men seem not to?

Sexual harrasment law fails because it seeks to deny reality.

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucid said...

@John--
You haven't answered: if a professor sleeps with a student in his/her class, the other students have no reason to object?

John said...

"You haven't answered: if a professor sleeps with a student in his/her class, the other students have no reason to object?hunyerr"

If I get the grade I deserve, why would I care? It would all depend upon the situation. Suppose the studen in question is a legitmate A student who loves the subject and ended up in a relationship with the professor because of their mutal interests and compatable personality. In that instance, assumeing I got the B I earned and the student got they A they earned, why would I or anyone else who got a fair grade have a beef with the professor and the student?

MadisonMan said...

A relevant question (IANAL): What's the law with regard to sexual harassment in NY?

Some of the commenters on gawker (from J Lee's 9:34 post) are ridiculously naive, calling Letterman a liability to CBS! Hello? Ratings are up! Profits are up! How is that a liability.

He's not classing up the joint, but did he ever?

Chip Ahoy said...

HA HA HA HA HA.

(I see what you did there -- the ol' word placement switcheroo ⇄, term flip ↪ combo. )

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. You're bad.

This is actually much funnier than Letterman ever was.

John said...

Madison Man,

I think most people just assume that famous entertainers sleep with their staffs. The only people who professed to be shocked by this are people who just want to rip on Leterman because they don't like his politics.

For the record I don't like Leterman's politics and haven't thought he was funny in twenty years. But I know BS when I see it.

Shanna said...

Did Leterman demand sex as a condition of employment or did he just sleep with staffers who had a fame and power kink? If it is the former, then yes it is sexual harrasment. If it is the latter, then it is just Leterman enjoying the perks of being famous.

Legally, there are two forms of sexual harrassment. Quid pro quo – where you get something (employment, promotions, walk on skits) for giving up a little something something, or alternately, you are denied something because you won’t give it up.

The other is hostile work environment, where people complain about girly posters and stuff (or that the gap toothed creepy boss won't stop asking them out).

John said...

Shana,

There is no evidence that either of those things occured here. I have seen no compaints from women on his staff that they felt they had to have sex to be treated fairly or that Letterman ever pursued women that weren't more than willing.

Shanna said...

John, I don't know if they occurred, I'm just saying that is what would make it sexual harrassment. Just sleeping with someone in the office is not necessarily illegal (although it is against a lot of office policies, just to be safe).

Joan said...

But if he was just sleeping with willing women and not treating the others unfairly, then what business is it of the courts or yours?

Isn't that an awfully big "if", John? You have been going on about human nature at some length here. Isn't it human nature to privilege your lover?

You don't seem to get that it's not the women Letterman slept with who have a case. It's the women he didn't, and who were therefore disadvantaged.

And, way up thread, MadisonMan: I think there should be different standards for Politicians and Clerics vs. Late Night TV hosts.

Why? Ideally, everyone would act in the same ethical manner. I realize this is not achievable (that's why they're called ideals), but why give the entertainment industry a get-of-morals-free card? If the rich and famous want to act like idiots we should be willing to call them on it.

Does that make me a weasel?

No, I think just a realist. But then again, I think weasels are unfairly maligned because of their natural flexibility.

traditionalguy said...

FYI: The word from a TBS employee in Atlanta was that the Pretty Blondes sports caster girls getting the promotions at TBS and at NBC Sports were always presumed to "sleep with" the bosses. If you were not available that way, then your career track was downward and then out. I knew her well enough to believe her. The sports celebrities coming (pun intended) through town were of course available for weekends, such as former NFL stars now into sportscasting. The ones that were faithful to their wives were admired and regarded as special guys.

Kirk Parker said...

"But, it's not prick-prick, so it doesn't count"

Maybe it's just a pin-prick; that wouldn't count either, would it?


wv - hillarg: "Oh no, here comes the Secretary of State!!!"

rhhardin said...

It's funny how morality always seems to favor the women.

I guess that's how it winds up as law.

There's more women.

John said...

"FYI: The word from a TBS employee in Atlanta was that the Pretty Blondes sports caster girls getting the promotions at TBS and at NBC Sports were always presumed to "sleep with" the bosses. If you were not available that way, then your career track was downward and then out. I knew her well enough to believe her. The sports celebrities coming (pun intended) through town were of course available for weekends, such as former NFL stars now into sportscasting. The ones that were faithful to their wives were admired and regarded as special guys."


I am shocked. Next you are going to tell me that Erin Andrews, Melissa Stark and Hanna Storm got where they are because of their minds. It is interesting, Hannah Storm was a big deal at NBC until she got married and started having children. Then she dropped off the map only to resurface years later as a daytime Sportcenter anouncer on ESPN. One wonders if perhaps her fidelity to her husband had something to do with her fall.

Whenever I see a less than spectacular woman sportscaster, I always pay attention because I figure she must have been really smart and good to get her job.

Pogo said...

I can affirm that I have never been sexually harassed on the job.

Or even approached, on or off the job, for that matter.

Possums are unappealing, shall we say.

William said...

Althouse had an Oscar Wilde moment. That's a nearly perfect quip and no amount of reasoned argument from John can refute it.....It should be noted that David Letterman was not particularly skilled in the field of sexual harassment. Letterman was the host of the top rated late night show. He could have leveraged this position to have had sex with beautiful women. The girls on his staff were in the bright normal range of cute. Show biz and model beauty exist in an entirely different dimension of sex appeal than what we see here on earth. He had a shot at that. Ask that hot robot chick on Terminator out on a date. Coach her with your superior show biz insights and offer her a few appearances on the show.....His female subordinates should compete to get his attention with clever wit and wacky suggestions or whatever product he wants his staff to produce. The women weren't hired for their sex appeal and should not have to compete on that playing field. Letterman was just being insecure or, at best, lazy.....I myself am lazy and insecure. Many women have made that observation to me, but none of them were female subordinates.

lucid said...

@John, who argued:
"If I get the grade I deserve, why would I care? It would all depend upon the situation. Suppose the studen in question is a legitmate A student who loves the subject and ended up in a relationship with the professor because of their mutal interests and compatable personality. In that instance, assumeing I got the B I earned and the student got they A they earned, why would I or anyone else who got a fair grade have a beef with the professor and the student?"

But, John, your argument simply assumes exactly what is in question. That's not an argument--it's a fantasy. You are not actually engaging what the arguments are about--thus, what you write is very unconvincing and tendentious.

AllenS said...

Back in the early 70's I had about a three week sexual relationship with a woman at work. She was 5 years older than me, and going through a divorce. Couple of years later, I made what I thought was a good career move, and went into this new thing called the computer department. 6 months later this woman was brought into the department, and was named our new boss. Her first boss thing was to call me into her office and read me the riot act. I transfered shortly thereafter.

David Walser said...

You have to prove that he favored the women he slept with over the ones he didn't to their deteriment. Appearing in skits doesn't quite rise to that level. In the end, I don't think merely sleeping with subordinates ought to count as sexual harrasment.

I am not saying Letterman is a good guy or a good husband. But, I really don't understand why this is such a big deal or anyone cares....


Allow me to depart from the question of what's legal in order to discuss why this may be a "big deal" even if it's legal. Years ago I worked at an international accounting firm in one of their large offices. I was a senior manager and helped supervise a group of staff and senior accountants. One of the senior accountants, "Cindy", came to me in tears. She was frustrated and angry because her peer, "Bob", another senior accountant, was having an affair with "Julie", one of the three female staff accountants he supervised. Cindy was convinced the reason I gave Julie a good evaluation and had recommended her for promotion is because Julie was sleeping with Bob. Cindy and the two females staff who weren't sleeping with Bob were convinced that the two staffer's low marks were a result of their not sleeping with Bob. Bob showered Julie with attention, gave her the best assignments, and provided her with mentoring that was denied to the other two. Is it any wonder Julie was "doing better" with all the extra help and coaching she'd been given? Couldn't I see the other two would be much farther along in their professional development if they'd received similar attention?

Until Cindy reported the affair to me, I was blissfully unaware of the situation. I had been aware of a problem -- the performance of the two staff I'd down graded had dropped over the evaluation period rather dramatically, but I'd no idea as to why. They were hurt that I'd show Julie favor and that I'd condone the affair. (Bob was married and his wife was about to deliver their first child.)

So, why was this situation a "big deal"? The affair destroyed the bonds of trust we'd had as a team. It hurt the productivity of our group. A lot of time and emotional energy were spent trying to work through these issues. The two staff spent too much time watching the other woman and not enough time evaluating their own work -- this kept them from continuing to grow professionally. One of the staff was let go for performance reasons. The other staff's career progress was delayed. My reputation was tarnished in the eyes of those I supervised. My job as a supervisor became far more difficult. (I think Cindy saw genuine surprise in my eyes and believed I did not know of the affair. I don't think the other two ever believed my claim of ignorance.)

Given all that, the workplace romance cost my firm a lot. It was a very big deal. Illegal? Maybe not. Definitely bad practice.

Mimi said...

Ah, yes, Tom Shales. The guy who wrote this about Polanski yesterday in the Wash. Post:
“There is, apparently, more to this crime than it would seem, and it may sound like a hollow defense, but in Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.” You know, nuance.

Pogo said...

I know this is naive, but what kind of jobs do people have where they have the time to devote to an affair?

Criminey; 12 hour days with barely time to pee, and a noon meeting, and then at home I have a toilet to fix and young'uns to chauffeur and shirts to iron.

It appears I totally picked the wrong career, sexually speaking. Is "Time set aside to flirt with subordinates" listed in Want Ads? Because if so, I completely missed that discussion in high school Guidance Class.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"You haven't answered: if a professor sleeps with a student in his/her class, the other students have no reason to object?hunyerr"

If I get the grade I deserve, why would I care?

What if he is grading on the curve? And the student gets a much better grade than they would otherwise deserve as a perk for fucking the boss.

Shouldn't you care?

Maybe you should consider bending over for the professor too. Hell. Everyone get fucked by the boss and then it will be even. Right?

garage mahal said...

Man - Woman

John said...

"But, John, your argument simply assumes exactly what is in question. That's not an argument--it's a fantasy. You are not actually engaging what the arguments are about--thus, what you write is very unconvincing and tendentious."


It is not tendentious at all. You just won't admit that you are overraching. Can sleeping with subordinates be both illegal and unethical? Of course. No one is saying that. But just because it can be doesn't mean it always is. It depends on the situation. It very well may be that in Letterman's case that his sleeping with subordinates had no effect beyond ruining his marriage.

I am really surprised at how rude, insulting and unresponsive people on this thread are. Instead of responding to the point, that sleeping with subordinates isn't always harrassment, you and many others on this thread just throw out invective. It is frankly beneath the quality of discourse usually found here.

John said...

"What if he is grading on the curve? And the student gets a much better grade than they would otherwise deserve as a perk for fucking the boss.

Shouldn't you care?"

Maybe I should in that case. Again, it depends upon the circumstances. Bosses sleeping with subordinates may or may not rise to the level of harrasment or a hostile work environment. In some cases such relationships may be immroal and even illegal. In other cases, they may be quite ethical. You don't know until you know all of the facts.

In the case of Letterman, we don't know all of the facts. And the peope on here who are asusming that he is some kind of a preditor or in the wrong merely because he slept with a subordinate are wrong for that reason.

Guesst said...

At least one of his employees was offered a very substantial amount of money to remain with her sex partner- boss. She then offered to share the wealth by asking her live-in boyfriend to be a stay-at-home dad while she went off to earn a living by screwing (working?) the boss.

Capitalism at CBS is alive and well.

Beth said...

I haven't read the network's policy, but I noticed NOW made a statement condemning Letterman today.

Ann Althouse said...

AllenS: "Her first boss thing was to call me into her office and read me the riot act."

George Carlin: "It's like the Riot Act. The Riot Act. They always tell you they're gonna read that to you. Have you heard this thing at all? Like when you're a kid, they threaten you. 'You wait 'til your father gets home. He's gonna read you the riot act!' Tell him I already read it myself. And I didn't like it, either; I consider it wordy and poorly thought out. He wants to read me something, how about 'The Gentlemen's Guide to the Golden Age of Blowjobs'?"

John said...

"At least one of his employees was offered a very substantial amount of money to remain with her sex partner- boss. She then offered to share the wealth by asking her live-in boyfriend to be a stay-at-home dad while she went off to earn a living by screwing (working?) the boss.

Capitalism at CBS is alive and well."


A woman has got to make a living. Since I think prostitution should be legal, I really can't see how I can say that what this woman did should be illegal either.

Republican said...

Dave screwing >>Intern
Intern screwing >>Producer + >>Dave
Dave screwing >>Wife + >Other Interns

It's no wonder Dan Rather was canned.

bagoh20 said...

"We don't know what their motivation for sleeping with David Letterman was. "

Who wouldn't want to sleep with a 70 year old bag of puss with low morals, a wife and a love of misogyny. Irresistible!

miller said...

Beth: good for them.

Amazing how the glitterati is coming together to defend these apes with pants.

I'm glad NOW is finding its voice.

John said...

"Who wouldn't want to sleep with a 70 year old bag of puss with low morals, a wife and a love of misogyny. Irresistible!"

They say Lyndon Johnson was a bigger womanizer than JFK. He supposedly slept with more and, sans Marilyn Monroe, better looking women than JFK. No kidding. Why some women consider fame and power such a turn on is beyond me.

Shanna said...

Heh to garage.

AllenS said...

Well, Professor, I can't remember the words, but I do remember that finger being waved in my face.

WV: weeni

Are you kidding me? That's what got me in trouble.

blake said...

Well, at least it was just a finger.

Peter V. Bella said...

Ray Charles' back up singers were called the Raylettes. The story goes that if a woman wanted to be a Raylette she had to let Ray.

AllenS said...

Yeah, it's all fun and games, until someone looses an eye to a finger.

kentuckyliz said...

Well before modern sexual harassment law, there was the old saying:

You don't get your meat where you get your bread and butter.

^ Note it's gender neutral.

So keep your Worldwide Pants zipped.

It wasn't just groupie sex. He could have sex with groupies he wasn't employing. Doofus.

William said...

A nice bit of wordplay, Peter, but not in the class of that offered by Althouse. Sadly, though, she will probably never again match it, and the rest of her life will be epilogue. I just hope she doesn't turn to drinks and drugs in a desperate attempt to reach this high water mark......John posits the case of ideal sexual harrassment. But wouldn't someone who is flawed in one area of his behavior probably be flawed in other areas.....bagoh20's post about elderly puss bags illustrates why Letterman should have leveraged his position to attract outside actresses rather than writers on his staff. Someone trained at the Royal Academy of Arts can feign a much better orgasm than someone who wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. Plus, they're better looking.

John said...

"It wasn't just groupie sex. He could have sex with groupies he wasn't employing. Doofus."

So what doofus? Yeah, he could have sex with groopies who didn't work for him. That doens't mean that there were not groupies who worked for him. Further, the groupies who had the most access to him were the ones who worked for him. Why go have sex with anonomous groupies when you have them right there in the office?

Again, insulting people just shows you are too stupid to make an argument. Doofus.

Beaverdam said...

@John
Wow. You are desperate.

John said...

"@John
Wow. You are desperate."

Why? Because I don't agree with the herd? This is one case where the resident lefty trolls are actually right. The righous indignation over Letterman is about the fact that people don't like his politics. The actual facts are incidental.

Big Mike said...

@John, the Althouse resident lefty trolls are never right, and neither are you about Letterman. Whatever the reality is about the ability of pretty, young women to advance their careers by providing sex in exchange for career advancement there is another reality that trumps sexual attraction.

American society has decided -- quite rightly IMAO -- that this is not how organizations will be allowed to operate. So the reality you are overlooking is that Letterman's activities probably are a fireable offense under CBS corporate rules and that if he is not fired (and he won't be) then the corporation is open to lawsuits from men and plain-featured women and even very pretty women who chose to resist Letterman's advances and/or declined to make their own sexual advances in exchange for career advancement. We, the people of the United States, through our government, decided that.

And if Letterman walks then there will be Hell to pay, and Democrats will pay it. That's another reality.

Big Mike said...

In retrospect, make that "hell" with a small 'h'. There will be a price, but probably not as large a price as other things Democrats have done and are trying to do.

John said...

Big Mike,

Those people you speak of will have to prove damages, like lost promotions or wages to win anything. That seems unlikely. Furhter, even if they do prove such, Letterman's value to CBS far outways the costs of the suits. In the end, this whole thing is really no big deal.

Honestly, why does anyone care? What are you going to stop watching Letterman if you hadn't already?

David Walser said...

...The righous indignation over Letterman is about the fact that people don't like his politics. The actual facts are incidental.

Not true for many if not most of us. Right after the Anita Hill testimony, our office decided to put everyone through sexual harassment training. We hired someone to lead a two-day session with a small subset of the office -- about 10 men and 10 women -- who would then instruct the rest of the office. The first day was a horrible experience. The women were obviously angry with the men and we men felt their anger was unjustified so we resented their anger.

On the second day, we had an epiphany. The women had been accusing us of being complicit in sexual harassment. We thought they were talking in some kind of theoretical sense -- we were part of the "patriarchy" and therefore were guilty merely because we were men. But they weren't talking theoretically. There was a senior manager in our office who groped women if he caught them alone in the copy room. Since the women all knew what he did, they all assumed we knew about it, too. The women had been angry with us because they assumed we tolerated this man's actions. Seeing that we did not know anything about the situation, the women's anger quickly subsided.

For them it was over. For us, it wasn't over. We quietly asked for the name of the man who'd been groping our friends. The women, seeing the steely glint in our eyes and the firm set to our jaws, refused to give us the man's name. My boss demanded to know why they wouldn't tell us who'd done these horrible things. One said, "Because Walser'll beat him to a pulp." My boss replied, "Not if I get there first. I'll throw him out the window." We never learned who the malefactor was.

Women don't know what they want. They were angry with us because we hadn't taken action. Now that we were ready to act, they wouldn't let us.

My point is that none of knew or cared what this guy's politics were. He'd crossed a line that no one should be allowed to cross. Letterman crossed that line, too. It doesn't matter whether the women wanted sex or not. There is no shortage of potential sex partners in NYC; some people are off limits. Letterman knew that his employees were off limits to him. That's what we're upset about.

Big Mike said...

@John, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I doubt that anyone would have to prove actual damages. I do know what my corporation's rules are and I do know that they're ruthlessly enforced.

And the only time I see Letterman is when I'm channel surfing with the remote. But what's that got to do with it? If you're trying to imply that I'd be easier on someone who tells funnier jokes then you're utterly mistaken.

Shanna said...

Women don't know what they want. They were angry with us because we hadn't taken action. Now that we were ready to act, they wouldn't let us.

Very interesting story, but I think your office women were probably happy just to know that you weren't complicit and I'm sure they appreciated your reaction to the knowledge, even if they may not have comfortable with the idea of you beating the guy up. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

Talking to a co-worker who has been around for a while, I heard some awful stories about how it used to be. I'm so glad we've moved a bit beyond that era, even if we may have different problems with this one.

MamaM said...

Trust,
Community,
Consistency,
Realistic Expectations based on the spoken/written terms of employment

These experiences or perceptions are affected when an openly agreed upon Employer/Employee relationship is privately and selectively expanded by one or the other to include a sexual relationship.

Give, take or mutual, sexual intimacy or expectations between co-workers introduces a relational element that affects group dynamics.

wv ulead

Joe said...

If I'm not mistaken, Tom Shales is the same man who posited that a thirteen-year-old in Hollywood isn't really a thirteen-year-old.

Why we're arguing about what a man with such a wee little mind said is silly.

For now on, we should argue only about things said and/or done by people with at least two working brain cells.

Cedarford said...

Shales omits that powerful media people who cammand a half hour or hour of national airtime 5 days a week ARE powerful.

They do not "prick the powerful" from a position of "being a (powerless) jester".

They have immense influence over the masses. More so, perhaps than most of their "powerful" targets in business and politics.