A decade ago, former Late Night with David Letterman scribe Nell Scovell wrote a piece for Vanity Fair, "Letterman and Me," in which she took him to task for sexist behavior. Her complaints included not hiring enough women writers and having inappropriate relationships with female staffers on the show.
Ultimately, his behavior caused her to quit. When she published the piece in 2009, she said she wanted women in comedy to be get better treatment and a fair shake. Letterman never read the piece.
That changed though, when Scovell approached him again to discuss the piece and get his take. He agreed, and a fascinating article results.
Some of the takeaway:
Letterman appears rattled by the revelations she made in the 2009 piece: "You know, the other night I read the piece that you wrote ten years ago. And I thought, Holy s••t, this is so disturbing and, sadly, a perspective that I did not have … I'm sorry I was that way and I was happy to have read the piece because it wasn't angering. I felt horrible because who wants to be the guy that makes people unhappy to work where they're working? I don't want to be that guy. I'm not that guy now. I was that guy then."
He also said that he called the female staffers who were denied promotions on the show after reading the piece and apologized.
Scovell then calls for more dialogue between men and women, arguing that it can, in fact, make a difference: "We need more dialogue so men can understand the difference between criticism and condemnation. And we need more dialogue so women can voice discomfort without fear of retaliation. Dave's willingness to speak to me on the record is part of him making amends. His acknowledgment of mistakes and regret go out to those who were wronged. They also go out to the enablers and defenders of his behavior. That's equally important."