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David Letterman Went Into A Depression After That Late Show Sextortion Scandal — Here's What Happened Behind-The-Scenes

| Filed under: TV NewsDavid LettermanBookzLate Night TVControversy

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David Letterman felt REALLY bad about those times he cheated on his wife.

Specifically, the time his affair with Late Show assistant Stephanie Birkitt led to CBS producer Robert Halderman blackmailing him for $2 million.

The former talk show host spun into a deep depression over the 2009 scandal, according to a new biography by New York Times reporter Jason Zinoman that reveals what was known by his inner circle amid the controversy.

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Letterman was "shaken" after revealing the scandal on air (where he admitted "I have had sex with women who work for me"), mostly out of fear that he would never see his family again.

As told in Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, the veteran host said about his desperate moment:

" ‘It was akin to having killed your family in a car crash. It was like that to me,'… ‘I was afraid my family was gone.' "

Despite facing criticism from fans and network heads, the late night veteran's wife stood by his side.

But just as Letterman's family was unaware of his affair, the book states that it was also news to many of the staff members he wasn't sticking it to. Zinoman writes:

"Most Late Show staffers said they had no idea that he was having an affair with Birkitt. Some suspected as much, and a few said they knew what Letterman was doing. There had been rumors among some on staff about Letterman's flirtations for years."

Of course, diddling his assistant wasn't the first time Letterman cheated. Former head writer and former Letterman girlfriend Merrill Markoe said her "mind reeled" when she learned of the affair, especially since the comedian asked her to write lines for Birkitt.

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In other words, Letterman asked his ex-girlfriend to write lines for his mistress, while he was married to Regina Lasko — whom he cheated on Markoe with when they were still together. Damn, David!

Letterman threw a postmortem meeting with his staffers after his on air confessional, but no one "was allowed to talk about the show" — this was, as Zinoman puts it, the host's way "to cope with and avoid his personal life."

In turmoil over his actions, the comedian used his staff as a protective barrier from the repercussions of his transgressions. Zinoman writes the host recalling:

" ‘I was looking for a refuge… Whether they knew it or not, [my staffers] were being used to support me. I didn't want to go outside. Outside I was scared. Scared as I've ever been in my life. The show was endlessly helpful.' "

Well, we don't know quite what to say. We're… glad he felt bad about getting caught?

What do U think? Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night hits shelves April 11.

[Image via CBS.]

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