But a leading media critic notes the story that started when the late-night host revealed Thursday night that he'd had the relationships may only be just beginning -- and Letterman is hardly out of the woods.
The star said Thursday he was the subject of an extortion plot. Longtime CBS News producer Robert "Joe" Halderman had pleaded not guilty to attempted grand larceny charges. Authorities say he hit Letterman up for $2 million to keep from going public with word of the affairs.
On "The Early Show" Monday, The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Tuesday that Letterman's revisiting the matter Monday night is hardly the end of the story -- and it could still "take a much more serious turn" for Letterman.
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Halderman Pleads Not Guilty to Blackmail
"After a weekend with his wife, (Letterman) probably had some explaining to do, but, clearly, there's some damage control at work" in addressing the affairs again, Kurtz said. "There's a lot we still don't know about this case. And I've had people say to me, 'You know, Dave's an entertainer, he's not Bill Clinton or (former Democratic presidential hopeful and North Carolina Sen.) John Edwards or (South Carolina Gov.) Mark Sanford. Who he fools around with is his own business.' But the fact is, he's acknowledged having sex with subordinates, and some portion of the audience may find that they agree with him when he describes his own behavior as 'creepy.'
"It was a very smart thing for Letterman to get out in front of the story (Thursday)," Kurtz continued. "Indeed, he didn't really have much choice. This indictment was coming down against the accused CBS News producer. ... And he needed to -- for his own credibility with the audience, to frame the story in a way most favorable to him.
"I think he probably didn't go far enough the first time in just making clear to the audience how sorry he was. He apologized to his staff last night, as well as to his wife. In recent days, we heard the word 'intern,' sex with an intern, a woman from the early '90s saying she had a relationship with David Letterman. Those are the kinds of things that you can't just hope everyone will simply forget about ...
"If anything happens to chip away at Letterman's credibility -- how many times have we seen this in politics? -- that is going to create a real problem. And ... there are more shoes to drop, because we don't know how many women, what period of time, but we do know that the lawyer for the accused producer ... is questioning Letterman's motivation. And if he starts taking depositions and we find out more about these women, and if any woman says she felt pressured or harassed by David Letterman --that hasn't happened yet -- then this story could take a much more serious turn for CBS' late-night franchise."
With all that being said, can Letterman still emerge unscathed?
"Unscathed, I think, is too much to hope for. Surviving, yes. Repairing his relationship with the audience? He has a shot at doing that. He's got this nightly platform. He doesn't have to go on 'Oprah' and weep. He can do it from behind his own desk.
"But this is not over yet, and I think there's gonna be some more uncomfortable moments for Letterman and CBS, frankly, before this is over."