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While Letterman's representatives have released few details about the relationships, they have said they predate his marriage to Regina Lasko in March. The couple has a 5-year-old son.
"I don't really care who someone sleeps with as long as it's not coerced and as long as there's not some explicit or implicit promise of favors or the like," Kim Gandy, former president of the National Organization for Women, said. "It's another adult -- it's not a minor. If that's all it is, he's a single guy and he had a fling."
But Gene Grabowski, an expert in crisis public relations for Levick Strategic Communications, said that after a couple of days, the extortion attempt will recede and viewers will focus on Letterman's behavior. Letterman said on Thursday that he doesn't plan to address the issue again. Grabowski said he needs to.
"People want to forgive David Letterman," he said. "People like David Letterman. But he has to do his part to make people want to support him, and that means apologize."
After Letterman's joke about Palin's daughter being "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez fell horribly flat, he gave a relatively cursory explanation and called it a failed attempt at comedy. After a weekend's reflection, he came back to give a much stronger apology.
The latest mess comes at a time when Letterman is re-establishing himself as the dominant figure in late-night television. His "Late Show" is nearly must-see TV. Within the past two weeks, he has featured President Barack Obama, Madonna and a riveting personal scandal. The best Conan O'Brien could do was a concussion when a stunt went awry.
Yet the women in Letterman's audience may need some reassuring.
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