By Elizabeth Darst
Updated March 12, 2002 11:00 AM

It looks like CBS has won the big battle in the late-night wars. Variety reports that David Letterman, 54, has decided to stay where he is, turning down a lucrative offer from ABC. At a taping of “Late Night with David Letterman” in New York City on Monday afternoon, the gap-toothed host told his audience that despite rumors, he is staying put. “I would like to finish my career — a week from Tuesday — at CBS,” Letterman said in his signature dry manner. “This has not been a very easy decision for me.” Letterman will earn $31.5 million and will be eligible for yearly increases, according to Variety. Of his current network bosses, whom he often refers to as “morons,” he joked that “all of a sudden they can’t suck up to me enough. I finally got a get-well card from my bypass surgery two years ago.” If Letterman had accepted the offer from ABC, that network’s current late-night news show, “Nightline” with Ted Koppel, would have been ousted. That scenario raised the ire of critics, who lambasted ABC parent company Disney for putting profits before the importance of the news. ABC executives replied that while they remain committed to the news, they had to pursue an opportunity to better the company’s financial position, Variety reported. ABC executives said Monday that “Nightline” will remain on the air for the time being; they didn’t mention another late-night show that’s in trouble: Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.” Stay tuned.