June 11th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
6 years ago

Letterman says Palin joke in 'poor taste'

(Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET with Palin response)

(CNN) – Late night comedian David Letterman, responding to criticism his recent joke about a member of Sarah Palin's family crossed the line, said on his show Wednesday night he is guilty of "poor taste."

But Letterman, who has been a critic of the Alaska governor, said the recent joke - that Palin's "daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez" at a recent Yankees game - was in reference to 18-year-old Bristol Palin, not 14-year-old Willow who actually attended the baseball game with her mother last week.

"We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news and we made some jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter [Bristol]... and now they're upset with me," Letterman said. "These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl.

"Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes. Did I suggest that it was okay for her 14-year-old daughter to be having promiscuous sex? No."

iReport.com: Share your thoughts on Palin/Letterman flap

Letterman's comments come a day after the former Republican vice presidential candidate called the joke "inappropriate" and "sexually perverted."

"Acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others," she said in a statement, assuming the joke was in reference to Willow.

On his show Wednesday Letterman said he hoped he "cleared part of this up" and said Palin is welcome to be a guest on the program at any time.

Palin had also taken issue with an item on Letterman's recent "Top Ten List," in which he said one of the Alaska governor's activities in New York was to buy "makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her slutty flight attendant look."

"The only thing I can say about this is I kind of like that joke," Letterman said.

In an issued statement, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said: "The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman."


Filed under: David Letterman • Sarah Palin
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. walker

    So Palin can yell obscenities about Obama but when she drags her kids on public tour they are suppose to be exempt. If one is on the stage then one is open for criticism.

    June 11, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Faith

    Who cares about what Palin is saying. David's jokes were just jokes. David I just love your show. Keep up the good Jokes. Your fans knew what you were saying. No harm done. Get Palin and her clan back to Alaska. White Trash is all she is. 2010 can't get here to soon. Please vote that family out of Alaska.

    June 11, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. B Davis

    I love David Letterman. I've been watching his show since 1990 and will continue to do so.
    Ms. Hokenose/Squarechin Palin spoke in "poor taste" when she accused Obama of "paling around with terrorists" AND a lot of other remarks which she has never apologize for.
    Keep up the good work Mr. Letterman.

    June 11, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Edward Veidt

    Was it tacky? Yeah.

    Is Sarah thrilled that her name is in the news because of it? You betcha! *wink*

    June 11, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. jessica

    I love Dave. She wants attention, and she sucks.

    June 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Laura

    Oh, Palins. You can't be holier-than-thou and in the public spotlight and then get upset when comedians make fun of you. It's just not becoming. If you can kill a moose, Sarah, you can man up and take a joke.

    June 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Woman

    A joke is a joke. Do people really think Letterman was serious or promoting sex with minors. The fact is that Palin has failed as a mother. The proof is her daughter Bristol. I am tired of religious freaks always talking the talk, and not walking the walk. Grow up.

    June 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Judy

    One can only imagine the uproar if Limbaugh or any other conservative in the media had made a similar "joke" about the president's daughters. Talk about double standards! You are a sick person if you think this is funny stuff. Letterman crossed over the line and I for one won't be watching him anytime soon.

    June 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Paul

    And so begins the swing of the political pendulum from the left back to center. Thanks, Dave.

    June 11, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Mike T

    What a unique concept.
    An apology.
    Admitting error.
    Wish Newt and Limbaugh knew how to do that.

    June 11, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Bob

    I don't like Palin, but let's be honest, he was talking about her 14 yr old daughter. She was the one at the Yankees game with Palin, not the 18 yr old. This guy is a sick freak. All of you saying this is no big deal, I wonder if you have children? I wonder how you would react if someone made a joke like that about your kids. This woman is a joke, but this was pretty sick.
    Oh, and by the way, Palin's in the headlines because Letterman put her there. He's as worthless as Palin is.

    June 11, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. matt

    letterman did use poor judgement in making this comment, but i commend him on his apology. Sarah Palin is a public figure and is subject to scrutiny, her family however is not, especially not her underage children. Whether it was the 14 or 18 year old it does not matter, all politics aside these are still children we are talking about, just becuase one turns 18 does not mean that a magical transformation occurs overnight!

    June 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Jon Powell

    Here we go again....Man I hope the Republicans are trying to keep Palin in the electable spotlight..it just guarantees us another 4 years....

    Get back to Alaska Nanook.....enoungh already...

    June 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. RIck

    If Palin wants to continue in politics, she must develop a thicker skin. I've heard Letterman make much, much worse jokes about other politicians, and they don't go complaining every five minutes.

    June 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. caroline

    I have one question for all the people bashing Pallin? Are you jealous? What is the reason for your hatred of her? Is she too good for you? Can't you get past her looks and judge her on her character? She has opened her book on her life and her family's life, finances, TAXES, etc. How about Obama and the rest of the democrats? How come it is ok to slam the right and yet when the comedians on the right make a joke, they are fired? DOUBLE STANDARD!!!!!

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. caroline

    I have one question for all the people bashing Pallin? Are you jealous? What is the reason for your hatred of her? Is she too good for you? Can't you get past her looks and judge her on her character? She has opened her book on her life and her family's life, finances, TAXES, etc. How about Obama and the rest of the democrats? How come it is ok to slam the right and yet when the comedians on the right make a joke, they are fired? DOUBLE STANDARD!!!!!

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Markus

    I agree the joke was crude and over the top, but Letterman is a comedian, that's his business. Don't listen to him if you don't like it.
    However, Palin puts herself in these positions. She continues to bring her family with her to use at photo ops, she politicizes her son's service in the military, bringing it up whenever she can, and she forced her daughter's baby's father to join them at the RNC to put up the "we're a strong family" show. As long as she keeps thrusting her family into the spotlight and using them as props to further her political career, she's going to put herself and her children in a position to be ridiculed.
    Is it excusable to do so? No. But that's the reality of it. It's not right for her to politicize her children either.

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Jeff B.

    Classy job by Dave to apologize. Jerk...

    How much outrage would there be had a right-winger said something like that about Pelosi, Feinstein, or Clinton? A whole bunch, that's how much.

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Lynn

    A rape joke? Letterman is an old pro, this was no rookie error.
    Where are the women's groups protesting this?

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Danny Garcia In PA

    We all knew who Letterman was referring to in his joke and it was not Palin's 14 year old daughter. Good for Dave for telling a funny joke while also pointing out the hypocrisy in the so called "conservative" fakes of today.

    June 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Ivan

    Letterman is one of the zaniest, funniest comedians we have, and his apology or clarification is sufficient. An intelligent funny man!
    Lighten up, people! It's Palin who is the joke, not good ol' Dave.

    June 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. William

    Letterman is a left-wing liberal. And like all left-wing liberals, he is both a clueless moron and an abject hypocrite. His dim bulb liberal mind could never conceive of ridiculing a fellow liberal, Democrat or "minority", yet he thinks nothing of slandering a conservative or Republican at every opportunity. Letterman's stupidity/bias are obvious to anyone with any intelligence and objectivity. He has already proven it over many years of mindless Bush-bashing, right along with so many other ignorant liberals.

    If those who control the mass media were not equally stupid and biased, Letterman would be forced off the air for his comments, just as Don Imus was fired for the far less offensive remarks he made about a basketball team. What's really hilarious is how threatened liberals are by Sarah Palin, something that is clearly evidenced by their continuous attacks on her.

    June 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Mr Joshua

    Anyone who thinks any jokes about rape regardless of age is funny has serious issues. Another example of far left lack of class and plain meanness. You do not see the right joking about these things do you?

    June 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. Shannon

    A sympton of the problem with USA MEDIA. For some reason they all think it is okay to take shots at the children of famous people. He can call Palin whatever he wishes, but to say a minor was having sex with a ball player is way over the line.

    This went on during the 08 campaign...it was sick then and it is sick now. Dave isn't a bad person, he is just part of the same sad machine.

    June 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. DENNIS

    Why don't she go back North where she belongs. She Whines more than anyone I have ever seen to be in the public eye. She expects everyone to love her, and she wants the Spotlight, so get used to what comes with it. Grow up Sarah, you will NEVER be President in your lifetime.

    June 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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