Former Letterman writer dissects Dave's lame excuses for not hiring more women

I continue in my befuddlement as to why he’s such an above-the-fray beloved figure when someone like Al Franken had to resign from the Senate for much less. I wonder what his image would be like if his sexual predation and fostering of a hostile work environment had been revealed in the past year instead of so much sooner. Creep is right, although it may be a bit too kind.


“Fair question, true enough; it’s the motivation in asking which could be suspect.”

I’d think that the motivation could be as benign as purely wondering if BB – having gone through the effort of bringing to us an article critical of a “male writers club” – does indeed walk the walk, or if the motivation carries a valid suspicion that BB has its own lapses.

Me? Not knowing anything about @M8888888, I chose to assume that the question was benign. I’m thinking now that questioning @M8888888’s motivations by asking for his/her profile could be seen as carrying its own motivations… but I’m not going down that rabbit hole. Suffice to say that BB has done a much better job than Letterman.


Off the top of my head, on the gender parity side, there’s Carla, Xeni, Heather, Andrea, Rusty, Gina, Kristen, and some periodic contributors including Sarina, Jasmina, Christine, Maureen, Caroline, Mimi… former contributors include Leigh, Laura, Maggie, certainly others I’m missing.


Therein lies the difference between us; I try not to assume, but I’m wary of pretty much everyone at first.


No, because that not what the author does. When Letterman says “I didn’t know why there weren’t women writers” he was talking about his own show, not about SNL. The discussion about lack of gender diversity on writing staff was entirely about Letterman’s own show, not about SNL. The author points out the irony of Letterman’s having noted Fey’s role on SNL earlier in the interview, when Letterman himself had had a female writer early in his show’s run, but about whom he had clearly forgotten.


The overall lack of diversity in comedy writing is disappointing and unsurprising. With Letterman there is an added element that it sure seems a lot like having sex with him was a way to get/keep a job on the show. I feel like the article talks about the overall problem with systemic bias in the industry, but doesn’t really get into the more significant criticism we could put on Letterman.


I sensed that also and was very surprised that it didn’t turn up in the Scovell’s analysis.


“much less” would be an exercise in interpretation. We never got a full accounting of Dave’s malfeasance. Franken had eight women accusing him of inappropriate behavior by the time he resigned. I’m not sure how to weigh Dave’s relationships with underlings and his fostering of a sexist work environment against Franken’s unwanted groping.

You could bother reading Nell Scovell’s original essay from 2009 if you’re having trouble making distinctions. You might be more sure how to weigh them then.

Read the essay linked in my reply to zachnfine just above this one. She laid it out there.

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I’m a white woman.

Your interpretation of my motivation was correct, thanks! I liked the article and think women are funny and should be hired, and sexism should be pointed out. It just made me wonder especially if there are any POCs at BB. I can only think of 3 names of posters off the top of my head, and one is Xeni, so I knew there was at least one woman (and this post has a female-sounding author, of course).
And I’ve been a reader for years and even have a copy of one of the old print zines at my parents’ house somewhere, if that makes a difference. Although I’m not sure if it should, besides making me aware that BB regularly posts articles about racial and sexual discrimination, I think. But maybe now that I’ve gone to all the trouble to make an account (a 10-character password?! That’s too many characters!), I will become a prolific commentator (if I can remember my long-ass password…)?

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Yes, that’s terrible. Thanks for the link. I have read it before.

I also think this is terrible. Franken allegedly groped a soldier who’d experienced sexual assault a few months prior. I don’t generally hear this one brought up when people defend or minimize his actions.

Like I said, I don’t think assigning weight is such an easy task, nor do I think it’s my job to assign weight. I can continue to think both men acted like trash.

As far as I know, which I won’t claim is comprehensive, Franken was accused of inappropriate touching, almost all of which was before he was a sitting senator. That shouldn’t be minimized, but that’s the level of bad behavior he was accused of. People that worked for him as a senator made no complaints that they were discriminated against or sexually harassed or pressured. Rather quite the opposite. Letterman, on the other hand, almost completely excluded women from writing jobs, had sexual relationships with subordinates and was the head of a hostile workplace where advancement was conditioned on being sexually available to superiors.

You, of course, are free to continue to think as you wish. I don’t have any trouble judging that Letterman’s actions were far worse than Franken’s, and were directly connected to his job, which he kept and continues to perpetuate in another forum. Letterman never faced any real examination of the whole sordid thing, and has been allowed to ignore it. Franken was forced out of his position while there was a pending investigation, for which he gave every indication that he would enthusiastically cooperate. They may be morally and legally equivalent to you, but I would suggest that it’s not that hard to find distinctions here, especially in the consequences faced (which was the gist of my original comment). It’s pretty clear to me that one of these guys got away with murder (figuratively), and another was sacrificed to the ambitions of the Democratic party and certain players in it. It’s not that Franken didn’t deserve to be called to account, but that he was summarily dismissed without a real chance to explain or defend himself. Meanwhile, Letterman is everybody’s chum. But sure, tomato, tomahto.


Regardless of who you think was worse in terms of sexual harassment, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with holding our elected officials to higher standards then we hold our television personalities.

(Which is not to say that Letterman shouldn’t face consequences for his actions too.)


Point taken. Particularly that Franken’s behavior was largely before he was a sitting senator and that people who worked with him said he’d created a good environment.

I guess I place extra weight on the allegations against Franken because he was a rising star in politics, with a shot at the 2020 nomination. And I felt betrayed because I’d put actual trust in him. His apology was…not good. Letterman until-recently had faded from public view.

I agree, but I also think that if you’re going to impose consequences, you should do a thorough investigation. There was no process here. And as far as the collective ‘us’ that should hold our elected officials to high standards, when it’s arbitrary to the point of randomness as to who it’s applied to and when and how it’s applied, I don’t see a standard at all, just political opportunism and a rush to judgment.

What you’re suggesting is desirable, but that would require ethics bodies that are independent and fair. I hardly need to point out that there are many politicians that have done worse than Franken was accused of (at the risk of opening that can of worms again) while in office, that are still in office and unlikely to face any real consequences as a result.

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Powerful politicians are like a different species to me, and I take a dim view of them, knowing that they all have probably done things I find morally repugnant, just from the realities of what is needed to succeed in that field. I’m all for holding them accountable, but don’t really expect high ideals from them, though there are rare exceptions to my rule.

Nobody threw Franken in jail. Nobody disputed that he (in the very least) did some creepy stuff that made multiple women around him uncomfortable, including that gropey photo shoot during the USO tour. His decision to step down following the revelation of those actions allowed the Democrats to retain much more credibility on the issue of sexual harassment, especially at a time when the Republicans were backing a known child molester.

It is no exaggeration to say that if Franken had fought tooth and nail to keep his seat and the Democratic leadership didn’t pressure him to step down then Roy Moore might be sitting in the Senate right now.


Gropey photo shoot was not good. Frat boy behavior, during a USO comedy tour, years before he probably even thought about being a politician. From his more recent behavior, during his Senate career, he seems to me to have matured by leaps and bounds, and has a great record with the women he interacted with and employed. Was he an unrepentant harasser that did terrible things while a Senator? Not that I have heard, but an investigation would have shown whether or not that was true or not. I suppose if there are things which one never must do if they ever hope to qualify for the Senate, than he’s busted.

He also was quite passionate about getting the Violence Against Women Act renewed in 2012, when it was looking shaky. But, off with his head. He was booted to pretty up the party image, the hell with substance. It was a power play by Claire McCaskell, as much as it was any kind of P.R. win for the Dems.

I think your imaginary scenario has a very debatable conclusion. I would still take Franken still in the Senate with Moore, rather than out of the Senate with a DINO Democrat representing Alabama. But I think Moore beat himself, and was too toxic even for that electorate.