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Letterman fans take Dave's scandal in stride

Traffic moves down Broadway, Sunday Oct. 4, 2009

Traffic moves down Broadway, Sunday Oct. 4, 2009 past the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show with David Letterman is taped, in New York. Credit: AP Photo/Tina Fineberg

They forgave Dave.

Despite the fallout from David Letterman's sex-in-the-workplace scandal, fans of the talk-show host spoke in empathetic - even humorous - tones Monday as they waited for a chance to be in the audience of his Ed Sullivan Theater taping.

Shirley Bishop and her husband, Dennis, both 71, of The Villages, Fla., were among many Letterman aficionados who were slow to condemn. After all, they said, he's not a public official. He's just a professional funnyman.

"Why would I be mad at him for something I did myself?" Shirley Bishop deadpanned.

"I'm her 18th," her husband chimed in, also with a straight face.

None of those interviewed Monday outside the midtown theater spoke harshly of the beleaguered comedian who was, they said, committing a regrettable, but common, sin.

A group of women from Mankato, Minn., said they saw Letterman as a victim.

They instead focused on alleged blackmailer Robert Halderman, a TV journalist accused of trying to shake down Letterman for $2 million in exchange for his silence about the talk-show host's behavior. Prosecutors said Halderman, who was released after posting $200,000 bail, was desperate and deep in debt.

Halderman, who is also known as Joe, was "looking for an opportunity to make some money," said Jane Lebert, 38, a human resources worker.

"I think people make mistakes. I give him a lot of credit for saying it on the air, but people don't need to know," said another visitor from Mankato, Shari Miller, 54, a lab manager. "What happens in New York, stays in New York."

Jennifer Simons, 35, of Omaha, Neb., who works in marketing, said the allegations are just tiny blips on her moral radar screen.

"I don't think it's anyone's business," Simons said. "He's a paid entertainer, and it's his personal life. Think about how many people have affairs in the workplace."

She quickly added, though, "Personally I wouldn't do it myself."

With Joseph Mallia

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