Did anyone on the planet buy David Letterman’s heartfelt apology on his show Monday night? At least Richard Nixon appeared sorry on the David Frost interview. But Letterman’s mea culpa felt so staged and insincere. If Dave really wanted to be honest and really wanted to express his genuine feelings, this is what his apology would have actually sounded like:
First of all, my ratings have gone up 37% so the truth is I feel great about all this.
Yeah, there’s the issue of hurting my wife but the big risk of coming forward with this was that my numbers would take a big hit – at least for a while. Michael Jackson owes me a favor and said he’d come on the show.
He’s dead, Dave.
(Paul plays a boogie version of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”)
DAVE: (feigning ignorance)
What? Did Liz Taylor sit on him? What happened?
(big big laugh. Paul plays an uptempo stanza of AC/DC’s “Overdose”. More laughter.)
It was on the news and in all the papers. Where were you?
Where do you think?
(big big big laugh)
Heh heh heh. You’d imagine with the CBS cutbacks that 48 HOURS wouldn’t have crews to cover that and me but I guess I was wrong. And for that, I’d like to apologize, ladies and gentlemen. Inadvertently, I wasn’t thinking ahead.
Heh heh heh, but really, kids. This has been a trying weekend. Normally, I’d turn to my staff for help but that’s what got me in this mess in the first place.
(laughter and applause)
Heh heh heh. I told you, Paul. If they can forgive me for hosting the Oscars they can forgive me for anything.
(wild laughter and applause)
Heh heh heh. But getting back to my weekend, I met with my team of lawyers, managers, network spin people – who trust me, have enough to worry about with those THREE RIVERS reviews –
Heh heh heh. Actually I blame CBS. You know how television influences behavior. I was the one person in America who watched SWINGTOWN and that’s what all those folks were doing. I’m an impressionable viewer, what can I say?
Heh heh heh. So where was I? Oh yes, my apology. This team of experts spent the better part of Saturday debating whether to deny the charges or apologize. And eventually, they worked out a compromise. So I’m admitting to having illicit affairs with members of my staff but claiming that they were all before my marriage.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Seriously, I’m touched. But there is one other issue I’d like to address. To Robert Haldeman, the CBS New Producer from 48 HOURS who hatched this extortion plot -- if you hurt a person and it's your responsibility, you try to fix it. You really hurt me, Bob. I hope when you sit in your cell for the next five to ten, you reflect on my anguish, my discomfort. And when you get out you have some serious making-up to do.
(shouts of “Yeah! Yeah!”)
DAVE: (takes a deep breath, then:
Okay, well, that’s my apology. Great show tonight! Steve Martin and Martin Short! Stay right here!
(Band plays “Saving All My Love For You” into commercial break.)