Report: CBS News Investigating Former Producer in Letterman Extortion Case
CBS is reportedly engaged in a civil war of sorts, as the network's top news correspondent digs for information about the producer at the center of the David Letterman extortion scandal.
According to a report in the New York Post, "48 Hours" employees are not happy that CBS News' Armen Keteyian is conducting an in-depth investigation into Robert "Joe" Halderman's alleged blackmail of Letterman. Halderman has pleaded not guilty to trying to extort $2 million from the late-night TV host in return for keeping some of the comedian's sexual affairs quiet.
But "48 Hours" employees are worried about appearing guilty by association with Halderman, a long-time producer for the CBS program, the Post reports. Among those most concerned is Stephanie Birkitt, Halderman's ex-girlfriend and the woman at the center of the sex scandal. The 34-year-old is said to have carried on a long-time affair with Letterman when she worked at the "Late Show." According to the Post, it was Halderman's jealousy over the rumored affair that spurred the disgruntled producer's alleged blackmail attempt.
A source told the Post that CBS News decided to pursue the probe in an attempt to avoid "sitting on the sidelines while other media feast on the scandal."
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While Letterman has seen a boost in ratings amid the news of the scandal, his confession has tainted his professional reputation, especially with colleges and universities looking to send female interns to work for "The Late Show."
On Tuesday, Quinnipiac University Professor Grace Levine vowed that she would pay more attention before sending her students to work for the controversial comedian, adding that she would "be remiss in just trying to ignore this," referring to Letterman's confession that he had multiple sexual relationships with his female employees.
Levine said she would not discourage students to apply for a position at the CBS late-night talk show, but instead would be raising her awareness "of what's going on there."
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In addition to Stephanie Birkitt, former intern Holly Hester has publicly confessed to falling "madly in love" with Letterman when she worked on the show while she was a student at NYU in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Thursday, a Connecticut judge ruled that information in search warrants related to the case against Halderman should be released.
Norwalk Superior Court Judge Bruce Hudock ruled that the documents can be released, but only after information is removed that identifies witnesses and what prosecutors call "victims by association."
Prosecutors said releasing the warrants could subject witnesses to media scrutiny and hurt the case. Representatives of The Associated Press and New York Post argued for release of the documents in Thursday's hearing.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.