Prosecutors have released transcripts of what they say are secretly-recorded tapes of conversations between lawyers for David Letterman and Robert "Joe" Halderman, the veteran CBS News producer accused of trying to shake down the comic for $2 million. The transcripts have Halderman voicing fears Letterman would go to great extremes to get revenge. Prosecutors contend Halderman threatened to go public with word of affairs Letterman had had with staffers of his show if the late-night host didn't give Halderman the money. Halderman insists he was just shopping around a screenplay about Letterman's life. His attorneys told CBS News again on Tuesday that Halderman was trying to negotiate a business deal, on the on the right side of law. Halderman is seeking the dismissal of the attempted grand larceny case against him. On Oct. 1, Letterman made the shocking revelation on "Late Night with David Letterman" that he'd had sex with staffers, and that he was the target of the extortion plot. Days earlier, say authorities, conversations took place at a New York City hotel between two Letterman lawyers and Halderman, who didn't know the attorneys were wired. "I'm not sure how crazy this guy is, or um, how dangerous he might be," Halderman said of Letterman. " ... Should I be fired, mysteriously ... if my house burns down ... any number of things that... I have no idea who or what he is or is capable of."
While I have zero sympathy for Letterman, who behaved irresponsibly and acted like an absolute scoundrel, I do have to say that the tapes, and Halderman's performance, really doesn't ring true. This sounds like someone who is 'playing to the audience' by trying to appear to be on the up and up. This is how a sophisticated extortion might be carried out, but carried out badly, nonetheless.
If you're legitimately trying to secure a business deal, why are you afraid of these ridiculous attempts at revenge? Extorting something from Letterman would, I guess, cause him to take revenge. Securing the rights for a screenplay, or getting paid x number of dollars for something creative? Where's the revenge motive there?