Letterman Bombshell: Former Staffer Writes of Quitting Show Because of ‘Hostile Work Environment’

Oct 28, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Tthe second female writer ever hired at NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman” writes on Vanityfair.com about what she calls the “hostile work environment” for women there, in the early 1990s.

The writer, Nell Scovell, writes that the host didn’t hit on her, but did pay her enough “extra attention” that another writer noticed. She says she was aware of rumors that Letterman was having sexual relationships with female staff members, as were other male employees there, and that the women involved wielded power “disproportionate to their job titles.”

Felling “demeaned,” she writes, she didn’t complain but “walked away from my dream job.”

Scovell, now a contributing writer to Vanity Fair, notes that today there are no women writers on the staffs of Letterman’s show, Leno’s show and Conan’s show. She writes,"I don’t want a lawsuit. I don’t want compensation. I don’t want revenge. I don’t want Dave to go down (oh, grow up, people). I just want Dave to hire some qualified female writers and then treat them with respect. And that goes for Jay and Conan, too."

–Elizabeth Jensen and Chuck Ross


  1. Did you read the same VANITY FAIR online piece that I read? Hardly a “bombshell”.
    Twenty years ago, a woman writer didn’t feel comfortable in the testosterone-charged environment where she accepted a writing job, and so eventually decided to leave that job for another where she felt more at ease.
    If you want to post explosive exposes, maybe you should work for TMZ.

  2. I have never liked David Letterman. I couldn’t put my finger on it but he just seems like a creepy individual – someone you would not want to hang out with in private life. I remember him interviewing Daphne Zuniga years ago, he found out her boyfriend was a seafood chef, and asked her all these inane questions about what types of fish she liked to eat. He was clearly bored out of his skull and not able to hide it; I thought it was extremely disrespectful to her as a guest.

  3. I have been hearing bad comments about dave for years, never believing any of them since he was an entertainer, but his admitting to have harassed an employee is awful. With todays current hostile individuals seeking anything or method to defrock someone who has had the pleasure of enjoying the limelight, Dave should have never come out with this. It did boost ratings though.

  4. Yeah, Letterman’s announcement was the bombshell. This was residual gunpowder.
    As Dave would say, “it took two people to write this” article?!
    And TV Week basically does work for TMZ now that they just repeat other news organizations’ stories.

  5. Dave didn’t admit “to having harassed an employee”. He said he had sexual relations with female employees. If it was consensual sex between grown adults (and it goes on all the time in the workplace), there was no harassment. He came out with this because he doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong and so far, nobody has shown that he broke any laws or “harassed” anyone.

  6. Fighting in Iraq is a hostile work environment ..not writing skits for a comedy show.

  7. When did having a consensual sexual relationship with a coworker become harassment? What the hell ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? This is between Dave and his wife!

  8. The moral outrage couched in TVWeek’s reporting of this story is making TVW look sillier and sillier. Hello, a “48 Hours” producer was arraigned for trying to blackmail Dave! Anything happening on THAT front? Or do you really prefer just to focus your attention on Dave’s pants?

  9. I remember that interview. I remember it because of what a poor guest she was. She wasn’t humorous, witty, interesting or in any other way captivating. It was amazing that David didn’t fall asleep. David asked about fish because she might have something interesting to say about it. She certainly did not have much else to say!

  10. oh
    there ARE going to legal repurcussions
    for dave…
    they’re charging him with assault with a dead weapon

  11. It’s not consensual if it’s between a boss and a subordinate. That’s the key element people who characterize this behavior as a “workplace romances” seem to be missing.

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