NEW YORK — A chagrined David Letterman apologized to his staff Monday and noted that his wife has been "horribly hurt" by the news that he slept with women who worked for him on CBS' "Late Show" in the years leading up to their marriage.
"If you hurt a person and it's your responsibility, you try to fix it," he said on the program. "Let me tell you, folks, I got my work cut out for me."
Letterman struck a notably more contrite tone than on Thursday, when he revealed that a man had allegedly sought to extort $2 million from him to keep quiet about the comic's affairs.
"I get in the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me," he said in his monologue.
The comedian awoke Monday to a torrent of headlines about the scandal. "Dave's Love Grudge," shouted the New York Post. "Show Will Go On," proclaimed the New York Daily News.
CBS' "The Early Show" jumped into the fray as well. In a piece bearing the on-screen caption "Late Show Lovers," correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on two women who have been romantically linked to the comic, while anchor Maggie Rodriguez interviewed the lawyer of the accused extortionist.
The alleged attempt by "48 Hours Mystery" producer Robert Joel Halderman to blackmail Letterman put CBS in the awkward position of reporting on a scandal involving two of its own. So far, the news division has devoted an amount of coverage comparable to its competitors', even as Halderman's colleagues puzzle over his behavior.
"All of us here at CBS [are] just shocked to hear that our own David Letterman was reportedly being blackmailed by a CBS News employee," Rodriguez said on the air Friday in one of two pieces "The Early Show" did that day on the story.
The program followed up with a segment Saturday exploring why powerful men risk it all for sex.
National correspondent Jeff Glor did a three-minute piece about the alleged extortion plot for "CBS Evening News" on Friday, reporting that Halderman had a relationship with a woman who worked for Letterman.
"We're following the story as aggressively as we cover any story of this kind, trying to learn what we can and get the critical interviews," said executive producer Rick Kaplan. "It's of no matter that CBS has so many connections to the main people in this story, and it has no impact on what we are doing."
Meanwhile, in a round of interviews on the network morning shows, Halderman attorney Gerald Shargel said that the CBS producer did not have criminal intent when he took a $2-million check from Letterman's attorney.
Shargel declined to provide details, but accused Letterman of holding back facts about the case.
"He's a master at manipulating audiences, that's what he does for a living," Shargel told NBC's Ann Curry. "So to think that David Letterman gave the entire story, and there's nothing more to be said, is simply wrong."
In an interview Sunday with Fox News' Geraldo Rivera, Shargel indicated he planned to bring out details of Letterman's relationships. "Somebody did someone wrong . . . other than my client," he said, adding: "It's not only a question of having sexual affairs . . . that's not the issue. I think the larger issue at the trial will be, who did he have the affair with."