Last night on the “Late Show,” host David Letterman revealed that he had affairs with staffers on the show and that someone had tried to blackmail him for $2 million to keep the story secret. That someone is a CBS News “48 Hours” employee, Robert J. Halderman, who is currently under arrest.
Tom Keaney of Rubenstein handles all PR for Mr. Letterman. He has not returned calls as of the time of this post. A CBS spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “Mr. Letterman’s comments on the broadcast tonight speak for themselves.” Of course, we’re curious to see what you think on how it was handled. Was it best to do it on the show with laughs?
Howard Bragman, chairman of agency Fifteen Minutes, and a well respected crisis PR counselor who has worked with clients including Monica Lewinsky’s family, Ed McMahon and Paula Abdul, told PRNewser, “There is not a good way to do this, there are ‘less bad’ ways to do this.”
“You look at your options and you’re on CBS so you’re not going to do it with Barbara Walters, you’re not going to go on “The Early Show,” of course you’re not going to go on Leno,” he said. “Why not do it where you’re most comfortable, where you’re surrounded by people that care about you?”
Despite the many ways this story can play out, Bragman insisted that Letterman only has to speak publicly once. “He’s David Letterman, he doesn’t invest a lot of time in being up front on good news, bad news or otherwise. His ratings are good. Tonight there will probably be a big boost in his ratings. We live in a world where there is a lot of crisis. There are so many, that they tend to go away and they have a half life of a fly. I always tell people, ‘once you say it, shut up.’ Rubenstein is a great firm, I suspect he’s in great hands.”
UPDATE: A press conference with Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau began at 11:30am ET. TVNewser has more.
UPDATE 2: Rubenstein’s Tom Keaney tells PRNewser that Rubenstein President Steven Rubenstein has represented Letterman “even longer than I have.”