Full transcript: David Letterman’s on-air statement about his affairs and the $2 million attempt to blackmail him

This was what David Letterman told his live studio audience and viewers on Thursday night's program about the man who attempted to extort him for $2 million over his secret affairs with women who worked for him at Late Show with David Letterman. UPDATED: Here's a video excerpt from CBS News of the final portion of his remarks…

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Here is the full transcript (audience reactions to Letterman are in parentheses): “I’m glad you folks are here tonight, and I’m glad you’re in such a pleasant mood because I have a little story that I would like to tell you and the home viewers as well. Do you feel like a story? (applause/cheers) This started three weeks ago yesterday. And I get up early and I come to work early, and I go out and I get into my car, and in the back seat of my car, there is a package I don’t recognize, and have never seen before and don’t usually receive packages six in the morning in the back of my car. (laughter) I guess you can. I guess some people do. So I get to looking through it, and there’s a letter in the package, and it says that, ‘I know that you do some terrible, terrible things. (laughter) And I can prove that you do these terrible things.’ And sure enough, contained in the package was stuff to prove that I do terrible things. (laughter) It’s six in the morning, and maybe this looks better to you at noon, (laughter) but six in the morning, all you can think about is every terrible thing that you’ve done in your entire life. (laughter) So I go through it, and I study it, and what this is, is a guy is going to write a screenplay about me. And you know, that’s good news for anyone, isn’t it really? (laughter/applause) And he’s going to take all of the terrible stuff that he knows about my life, and he seems to, in this packet, there seems to be quite a lot of terrible stuff that he knows about. And he’s going to put it into a movie unless I give him some money. Yeah, I’m like you, I think, really? That’s a little, and this is the word I actually used, that’s a little hinky. (laughter)

"So I just want to reiterate how terrifying this moment is, because there’s something very insidious about, is he standing down there? Is he hiding under the car? (laughter) Am I going to get a tap on the shoulder? You immediately, because I’m motivated by nothing but guilt. If you know anything about me (laughter) I am just a towering mass of Lutheran Midwestern guilt. (laughter/applause) Well, thank you.

Letterman"So I get to the office and I say to myself, I hate doing things like this, but maybe I’ll call my attorney. So I call my attorney, and he takes a look at it, and he says, well, let’s schedule a meeting with the guy, just to see what he has in mind. So there’s a meeting with the guy, and it turns out, yes in fact, he wants a large sum of money or he’s going to produce this screenplay of all of the terrible things that I do. Embarrassing, terrible things. (laughter) So, at that point, my attorney and I say, wow, this really is hinky. (laughter) So then we call an operation called the Special Prosecution Bureau, which is a division of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. We call down there, and we say, can we run a couple of things by you guys? (laughter) So we took the stuff down there and they said, whoa, hello, this is blackmail. (laughter/applause) So they said, what you want to do is get another meeting with this guy and find out if he’s serious, because, you know, we all have a bad day, and stuff like this (laughter) can slip through the cracks, you’ve inadvertently blackmailed someone. (laughter) So they have the second meeting, and the question was posed, and are you aware, that this is serious, this could be a crime. And, no, no, I’m fine with that. And oh, by the way, not only am I writing a screenplay. I’m writing a book. So I thought, well, that’s nice. You have a companion piece. You have the film, and you have the book. What do you, read the book first, then go to the film? Do you watch the film then you read the book? Do you take the book and read along at the film? (laughter) It’s all coming up roses for me now. (laughter) Because, remember, this guy knows creepy stuff about me. So they had the second meeting and he was reassured that everything was just fine. And then a third meeting is arranged.

"And if there’s a lighthearted moment in any of this, and I’m not sure there really is, the third meeting – the third meeting is arranged whereby he’s given the check. Now I don’t think I’ve mentioned the amount up ‘til now. But he was asking $2 million. (gasps/laughter) Was that the foreigners? (applause) So the check is turned over, $2 million, and because I’m such a bonehead, you ever seen the golf tournaments where they have the giant check when the guy wins it? (laughter) But I couldn’t talk him into that. (Paul: “No. Hehe.”) So now this guy is walking around New York City with a phony check for $2 million, and the idea is now, although he’s given no guarantees. He’s still saying, well, you know, you never know, I may just go ahead and write the book, may just go ahead and write the screenplay. So, for that guarantee, he’s got a phony check for $2 million.

“So this morning I did something I’ve never done in my life. And it was a combination of just unusual and scary – this whole thing has been quite scary – I had to go downtown to testify before the grand jury. And I had to tell them how I was disturbed by this, I was worried for myself, I was worried for my family, I felt menaced by this. And I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I have done, that were going to be (laughter). Now why is that funny? That’s, I mean. (laughter/applause) So the idea is that if they believe, in fact, a crime has been committed, then they issue a warrant, and that’s exactly what happened. And a little bit after noon today, the guy was arrested. (applause/cheers)”

“Now of course, we get to, what was it? What was all the creepy stuff (laughter) that he was gonna put into the screenplay and the movie? And the creepy stuff was, that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. Now. My response to that is, yes I have. (laughter/applause) I have had sex with women who work on this show. (more applause) And would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would. Perhaps it would. (laughter) Especially for the women. (laughter/applause) But that’s a decision for them to make if they want to come public and talk about the relationships. If I want to talk about the relationships. But what you don’t want is a guy saying, oh, I know you had sex with women so I would like $2 million or I’m going to make trouble for you. So that’s where we stand right now.

"I just want to thank the people at the Special Prosecution Bureau and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Robert Morgenthau, who is head of that. It’s been a very bizarre experience. I feel like I need to protect these people. I need to certainly protect my family. I need to protect myself – hope to protect my job – and the friends, everybody that has been very supportive through this. And I don’t plan to say much more about this on this particular topic. So, thank you for letting me bend your ears. (applause) Now. I know what you’re saying. ‘I’ll be darned, Dave’s had sex!’ (laughter) That’s what the grand jury said also. (laughter) Really? You’ve had sex? Alright, now what do we do? I guess we do a thing. Thank you again for your patience. We’ll be right back…”

Related: CBS confirmed that one of its employees from 48 Hours is the suspected extortionist.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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5 thoughts on “Full transcript: David Letterman’s on-air statement about his affairs and the $2 million attempt to blackmail him

  1. I live in a Country in which this admission of guilt is true science fiction
    If you can’t understand which Country I live in
    I will tell you
    the Country is Italy and the guilty man (one of the guilty men) is the Prime Minister
    (I am sure you know the name)

  2. It a shame people have to feel embarassed about having had sex. People have sex, get used to it!!
    Nobody’s perfect, and very few people have been “perfect” in only having sex with one person in their life, that person being their spouse after marriage. Nobody wants those “imperfections” (or shall we just call it “humanity”) broadcast to the world.
    I hope the guy goes to jail and I hope this boosts Letterman’s ratings.
    Of course, I do hope Letterman accepts to sit on the other side of at least one interview, where the interviewer eats into him as he would to a guest on his show after an incident like this. That would be uncomfortable and funny, and real would balance his Karma. I suggest Bill Clinton perform the interview. :-0

  3. Hi, I’m David Letterman. I’m a funny guy for whom everything is a joke. I make over $30 million a year in direct salary alone, and I have an incredible amount of power. I can buy almost anyone. As far as people who have anything to do with my show, I say who lives and dies and who has sex with whom. But they’re all free to do as they wish. Some people just don’t get the joke! And some people just don’t grasp my invulnerability to anyone who wants to force common decency and morality on me. I am beyond good and evil. I’m rich and powerful, and I have my own TV show. Go pick on Roman Polanski! You’ll have a better shot. But seriously, “folks,” we all do “terrible stuff.” I just get to do more of it and get away with it because I’m rich and powerful and can make my case as if it were a joke. Get over it. You’re not me, but you can watch.

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