David Letterman: Freedom of speech victim, or self-censoring? | EW.com

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David Letterman: Freedom of speech victim, or self-censoring?

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Ever since David Letterman delivered his extraordinary revelations last Thursday, I’ve been checking in at CBS’ website for that 10-minute clip. I wanted to embed the clip in what I wrote about the incident, so you could see it for yourself and compare your opinion against mine.

But as The New York Times reports, not only has that clip never been placed on CBS’ website, but the network is doing its best to keep it off YouTube as well. As a result, now you can’t even see the Letterman clip on my original post about the extortion and sex story.

CBS’ reasoning is obvious, from a big-business perspective: CBS most likely finds Letterman’s meticulously worded mea culpa embarrassing and thinks the controversy will go away faster if it makes the clip go away. Another way to look at this: a source close to the Late Show confirmed to EW that Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants asked CBS to not stream the video and the network obliged.

Either way, I think it’s a mistake. Now there are tons of people who’ll keep trying to post that clip to defy the network’s clampdown. Meanwhile, folks will, in their imaginations, misremember what Letterman said, and perhaps think what he admitted to was worse than was actually uttered. (“Hey, didn’t Dave say he also liked to dress up in Johnny Carson’s underwear? No?”)

CBS is clearly keeping track of what gets posted on its website now. You can find Friday’s cheerful interview with Larry David now on CBS.com, but you can’t see that night’s other guest, Olivia Wilde. Why? I suspect it’s because, in the course of telling a story about how she moved into a bus with her husband, the House star said flirtily to Dave, “I’m sure you could get many, many women to move into your car with you.” Uh-oh…

On the CBS website, there’s a written summary of that night’s show, but Wilde’s comment isn’t transcribed.

So if you have Dave’s Thursday admission on your DVR, keep it: You’ve got a collector’s item.

What do you think about the suppression of Letterman’s comments?

Originally posted October 5 2009 — 11:10 AM EDT

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