An employee at CBS News’ “48 Hours” is facing charges that he tried to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million. Letterman admitted on Thursday night’s show that he had engaged in sexual relations with women employed on his CBS “The Late Show,” and testified before a grand jury about the attempt to extort money from him to keep the sexual liaisons quiet.
The suspect is Robert Halderman, an Emmy Award-winning producer who had worked on “48 Hours” for a decade. He is now facing trial on one count of attempted grand larceny in the first degree. If convicted, he could face a sentence of 5-15 years in prison.
CBS News reported that Halderman was arrested on Thursday after Letterman issued a phony $2 million check.
Letterman, who had already given testimony to a grand jury about the extortion attempt, revealed the plot and his sexual dalliances on the Thursday night broadcast of “The Late Show.” Many audience members didn’t seem to grasp what the comedic host was talking about – laughing and applauding as he explained what had been taking place.
Letterman said he found a package in his car three weeks ago with a letter that said, “I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and that I can prove that you do some terrible things.” The package contained that proof.
According to CBS News, Letterman then contacted his lawyer, who arranged a meeting with the would-be extortionist, who threatened to write a screenplay and book about the TV host unless he was paid off. At some point, the police were notified. Two more meetings took place, including the one where the check was delivered, followed by the arrest.
Letterman’s on-air comments and biographical information about Halderman are posted with the story on CBSNews.com.
RBR-TVBR observation: You can’t be blackmailed once you’ve made the public disclosure yourself. It was no doubt unpleasant for Letterman – let alone for his wife – to make the on-air statement he made, but it ends the potential for blackmail and lets him deal with the family issues as best he can. Letterman took the bull by the horns and went to the legal authorities, rather than allowing himself to become a victim.