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Video: Alleged Letterman mistress on paid leave

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    >> all right, meredith, thank you.

    >>> now to the latest on the alleged extortion plot targeting david letterman . nbc news has learned that letterman's former assistant and reported former lover has now been placed on a paid leave of absence. nbc 's peter alexander is outside letterman's studio here in new york city with details on that. peter, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: matt, good morning to you and welcome back. there are reports this morning that the accused extortionist, joe halderman, saw david letterman making out with halderman's then live-in girlfriend, stephanie birkitt , near halderman's home in august, just two months ago, when letterman was already married.

    >> welcome to the show . how's everybody doing? you folks okay?

    >> reporter: for david letterman , another scandal-free edition of "the late show " wednesday night.

    >> new york yankees in the playoffs earlier tonight, and boy, does that sound like fun. 50,000 people packed together during a swine flu epidemic. so, that's --

    >> reporter: nbc news has learned stephanie birkitt , one of letterman's assistants, and reportedly his past lover, has been placed on a paid leave of absence by letterman's production company, worldwide pants . the 34-year-old birkitt, who first joined "the late show " as an intern, is reportedly at the center of a tangled love triangle . birkitt is the former girlfriend of suspended cbs news producer joe halderman, the man accused of trying to extort $2 million from letterman to keep the comedian's affairs secret.

    >> sure enough, contained in the package was stuff to prove that i do terrible things.

    >> reporter: the week after letterman revealed that he was the victim of an alleged blackmail plot and acknowledged having sex with women on his staff, the " late night " host is facing new attacks. the national organization for women sharply criticized letterman, accusing him of creating a toxic environment in the workplace and urging cbs to take action immediately, even though no women have come forward to complain. meanwhile, the explosion of media attention has raised new questions about whether the prosecution of letterman's accused extortionist could make things even more difficult for the comedian.

    >> people say there is no such thing as bad publicity. this is an example of bad publicity. i mean, this is something where not only is joe halderman having his worst nightmare come true, but for david letterman , for his family, for his show, there is no up side to this, none whatsoever.

    >> reporter: still, celebrity crisis management experts say letterman had to go to the authorities.

    >> it's conceivable that when letterman was approached, they thought they were dealing with a loose cannon , and if you're dealing with someone who's going to go to the media anyway, you go to the authorities.

    >> okay, let's look at the news. first of all, bill clinton said --

    >> reporter: while letterman may be pulling his punches on former targets --

    >> let me ask you a question. do you think it's too soon to be hitting on mrs. eliot spitzer ?

    >> reporter: some of the politicses who have been the source of letterman's best material are now offering their support.

    >> good news for south carolina governor mark sanford because he --

    >> reporter: from governor sanford -- "both my thoughts and my prayers are with him." and sources at worldwide pants tell nbc news that stephanie birkitt 's unpaid leave of absence is set for an unspecified period of time. they say that she did not violate any of worldwide pants ' policies. it's not a punishment. it's simply a matter of practical reality. they say, matt, given the media attention on this case, it would be impossible for birkitt to return to work.

    >> all right. peter alexander in midtown for us this morning. thanks very much. jeanine pirro is a former district attorney and county court judge and the host of "judge jeanine pirro ." hey, jeanine, good to see you.

    >> good morning.

    >> you've got the defense attorney for joe halderman in this case, a talented and tenacious attorney. he says the government's case doesn't make sense in this. does it make sense to you?

    >> yeah, it really does. you've got the manhattan's d.a.'s office behind this thing, monitoring it, they were wiretapped. this case is a solid attempted grand larceny , which is a 15-year sentence, larceny by extortion in the state of new york . he is excellent, i agree with you, but it's got to end. there's got to be a plea bargain .

    >> before i get to that, because i know you feel strongly about that -- this idea that joe halderman asked letterman for a check.

    >> check, right.

    >> okay? not $1 million, $2 million in unmarked bills in a brown paper bag on a street corner -- a check. was that perhaps one brilliant moment for joe halderman, that he can say, who blackmails someone by asking them for a check?

    >> exactly, and i'm sure that's what he's thinking. but at the same time, he can't take cash. i mean, that's almost proof positive that it's a deal under the table. plus, he owes maintenance, child support , his house is about to go into foreclosure. he needs cash that he can identify as legitimate cash.

    >> now, back to this idea that there may be a plea in this case. gerald shargel , that defense lawyer , says i can't wait to get david letterman on the stand and cross-examine him. does he really want a trial or is he sending the message, this is going to get messy, you have got to come up with a deal here?

    >> well, i think it's both. i think shargel is not afraid to go to trial. i know jerry. he's not afraid to take this to trial.

    >> but messy details coming out on the witness stand aren't going to help his client.

    >> they may not, but you know what happens all the time in criminal cases? the jury stops wondering if the defendant is guilty and starts wondering if the victim is guilty. and you know what, david letterman doesn't need more bad press. he's got a lot of people watching his show now, numbers are up. let's stop the dirt.

    >> so you think the letterman attorney should pressure the d.a. in this case to come to some agreement out of court?

    >> as sure as i'm sitting here, matt, they have got to end this.

    >> and how much input do they have in that?

    >> when i was d.a., they have a lot of input. here's the bottom line -- they have got the case. if they get an admission and a plea and if david letterman is behind it 100%, it ends it. it's over and it's yesterday's news, but every day we're going to learn drips and drabs of different women, different scenarios, different quotes from the diary that stephanie birkitt kept. it doesn't help letterman.

    >> jeanine pirro , thank you very much. good to see you.

    >> good to see you.

    >> it's 16 minutes after the hour. here's meredith.

By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 10/8/2009 8:46:37 AM ET 2009-10-08T12:46:37

“Late Show” host David Letterman’s recent apologies for his workplace romances were a big hit with viewers , but at least one high-profile member of the at-home audience isn’t ready to forgive and forget. In an open letter published to Radar Online, outspoken attorney Gloria Allred lashed out at Letterman.

“Last week you admitted that you had sex with women on your staff,” Allred began. “Many in your audience laughed when you said it. I for one was not laughing.”

According to Allred, the late night legend’s not-so-funny problem may be more than a personal or professional violation — it might even be a legal violation.

“Let’s call it what it really was — sexual favoritism in the workplace — and since you suggested that you had sex with more than one woman on your staff, some of your employees may believe that sexual favoritism in your workplace is widespread,” the discrimination lawyer wrote. “If this is true, then I believe that your sexual conduct is wrong and potentially in violation of the law even if your sexual relationship with your staffers was consensual and romantic.”

Before ending her lengthy missive, Allred reminded Letterman just because no one has complained about his actions, that doesn’t mean that members of his staff haven’t suffered because of them.

“You said ‘I’m terribly sorry that I put the staff in that position.’ I’m sorry too, Dave,” she wrote. “I’m sorry that you didn’t appear to recognize that your conduct was more than ‘something stupid.’ I’m sorry that you do not appear to recognize that it may have been a denial of equal employment opportunity and a denial of the right of women to have a workplace that is not hostile because of sexual harassment.”

Federline owes big bucks after leaving a big mess
It’s a good thing Kevin Federline will soon be able to bunk with an assortment of has-beens and almost-weres for the upcoming season of VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club.” According to a recent report posted to gossip site TMZ, the former Mr. Britney Spears owes over $100,000 to his last landlord.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings Owners of Federline’s Tarzana, Calif., rental home claim he failed to pay six months in back rent and trashed the property during his stay.

As for K-Fed’s alleged fine-worthy infractions, they include filling gutters with cigarette butts and empty bottles, breaking a beer dispenser, and leaving “permanent spit marks on exterior paint.”

Dish on the fly
Katie Holmes doesn’t have to wait for the “worst dressed” reviews to find out if she’s made a fashion faux pas, thanks to her very own clothes critic, husband Tom Cruise. “He usually likes everything, but sometimes I’ll walk out and he’ll say, ‘I think that dress might be wearing you. You don’t need that,’” Holmes revealed to Elle magazine. The unsolicited advice never upsets the stage and film star, as she added, “Tom has great taste.” … Days after posting suicide threats to her Twitter account, reality TV star and sometimes-singer Tila Tequila blamed her recent fallout with Shawne Merriman for prompting the online cry for help. “I am going to kill myself cuz I don’t want to live in a world where its filled with IGNORANCE! which majority of you ARE! & racists!” she wrote in the early hours of Monday morning. But in a Tuesday entry to Global Grind, Tequila explained, “I have tried my best to stay strong and try to move on with my life, but because of the post traumatic stress that I have suffered from that (Merriman) incident, and the tremendous amount of pressure from the media scrutiny, I finally had a public meltdown.” She added, “For one person to have to deal with the weight of the world on her shoulders, it’s not as easy as one may think.”

Tabloid Tidbits is compiled by Ree Hines.

© 2013 msnbc.com.  Reprints

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