The Palin/Letterman Spat

June 13th, 2009

Sarah and David
Sitting in a tree

David Letterman tells jokes for a living — mostly rude jokes — and he insults people. It’s not high-class work, but that’s what he does and he’s paid astronomically well for it.

Recently he told a joke that got a much bigger than normal reaction. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post article that gives all the details.

In another one of those delicious, you-know-you-love-it-even-as-you-roll-your-eyes media flaps, Letterman has been fending off an aggrieved Sarah Palin after she took offense at several of his late-night cracks.

Palin didn’t rise to the bait when Letterman derided the Alaska governor’s “slutty flight attendant look” on Monday’s show. But she did object when Letterman, satirizing the Palin family’s visit to New York and a Yankees game, said: “There was one awkward moment during the seventh inning stretch. Her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”

Tacky, to be sure, especially since the daughter he intended to refer to, 18-year-old Bristol, wasn’t at the game. Palin’s 14-year-old daughter Willow was there, however, so she is the one who became the target of the joke.

Letterman has offered an explanation, if not an apology; he says he was talking about Bristol and he would never make a joke about a 14-year-old being involved in a sexual situation.

Not good enough! Sarah Palin, in that over-the-top way of hers, is demanding an apology.

“He doesn’t have to apologize to me,” she told host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show yesterday morning. “I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for contributing to that kind of … that thread that is throughout our culture that makes it sound like it’s okay to talk about young girls in that way, where it’s kind of okay, accepted and funny to talk to about statutory rape. It’s not cool, it’s not funny.”

I wonder why she didn’t mention Letterman apologizing specifically to Willow.

Palin really had no choice. She had to jump to the defense of her daughter, but by now she must realize that she is doing nothing but giving media attention to Letterman — a man who loves media attention — and at the same time making sure everyone hears or reads the joke.

I would bet that eventually David will get enough pressure from his producers, his network, and especially his sponsors, and he will then offer an apology. It won’t be heart-felt, but it may suffice. But immediately after the apology, you can bet he’ll offer another zinger directed at Sarah Palin.

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8 Responses to “The Palin/Letterman Spat”

  1. Larry |

    Palin sort of got sucked into the old “Do you still beat your wife” scenario. As you noted Letterman is a real horse’s butt with a strong desire for attention. The joke was out of place no matter which daughter it was intended to embarrass.
    Palin rose to the defense of her child. If that’s no longer the proper thing to do, could some one tell me what is?

  2. Tom |

    Extremists can sometimes make just about anyone look good. Letterman should have known better, but he obviously doesn’t. Attacking someone’s kids makes you look like an idiot; defending your kids makes everyone admire you. Palin wins, Letterman loses.

  3. Lisa |

    I agree that Letterman fits the new definition/use of the word “extremist”. He is terrorizing the Palin family.

  4. jay |

    Nothing sadder than an has-been comic mugging for the camera and throwing out frat house humor to get a laugh from morons.

  5. randy |

    I think they’re both doing it to stay in the limelight. It’s already been said that Letterman’s ratings are up and this is a way Palin can stay in the spotlight which will help a run in 2012. It’s good for both of them and it sure has people talking.
    Everyone loves a good fight, even if it is a verbal celebrity rumble.

  6. jay |

    Yeah…”she asked for it” has been the excuse for many a man.

  7. Harvey |

    I can’t disagree with anything any of you have said — which id highly unusual for me. (Maybe I’m losing my touch! LOL!)

  8. Tom |

    Harvey, your thought about the pressure that would be put on Letterman seems to have been on the mark. He said today, in part:

    Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.

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