June 15th, 2009
08:54 PM ET
6 years ago

David Letterman apologizes to Palins over 'coarse joke'

Late night TV talk show host David Letterman apologized to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the second time after a recent joke by Letterman stirred controversy.
Late night TV talk show host David Letterman apologized to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the second time after a recent joke by Letterman stirred controversy.

NEW YORK (CNN) – David Letterman delivered another, more repentant apology for the off-color joke he made last week about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter.

"It was kind of a coarse joke. There's no getting around it," Letterman said in the opening monologue of Monday night's show.

Letterman, who joked last Tuesday that Palin's "daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez" at a recent Yankees game, still insisted he was referring to Palin's 18-year-old, Bristol, who gave birth to a boy in December, and not her 14-year-old, Willow.

Related video: Letterman's joke was 'perverted,' says Palin

Palin has called that a "weak, convenient excuse" for a joke that was"inappropriate" no matter which daughter was the target.

"My 14-year-old was there with me at the game. She was the only one there with me," Palin said.

Letterman said Monday night that he now realizes, "It doesn't make any difference what my intent was, it's the perception."

"As they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it's not a very good joke," he said. "I take full blame for that."

"I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed," he said.

"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," Letterman said. "I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future.

The controversy comes at a time the late-night ratings battle between the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS and NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" is in the spotlight.

Letterman has gained ground in the two weeks since O'Brien took over hosting duties from Jay Leno.


Filed under: David Letterman • Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. tba

    We all have to aplogize to Palin or else shes going to get mad at all of use. Guess we have to aplogize for her OLDER daugther getting knock up when she preaches absents. Also we all going to have to aplogize to Palin for loosing the election.

    June 15, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  2. M

    Could Sarah Palin just go home and get out of the media. She lost – get use to it and since she used the elder daughter and her pregnancy in the election, she cannot suddenly cry foul with regards to the rest of her family – perhaps she needs to take a parenting course and stay at home and out of the media!

    M.

    June 15, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Charles

    She's below Pathetic on the Lame Meter of Life. Seriously. And BTW I am thrilled this has made Letterman's ratings rise. Palin, you are indeed one whiny specimen. Grow a set, would you?

    June 15, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  4. Kate O.

    Good. David Letterman was right to apologize. Now can we all move on?

    June 15, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. BlueSmokeStudio

    So does an Alaska governor -really- have nothing better to do these days than to sign autographs, do press junkets about... well nothing, and to complain about what she sees on television? I thought you gun-worshiping Republican machos were tougher than to whine because someone on TV made you mad.

    June 15, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. Bill

    Who cares can't we move pass this one!

    June 15, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  7. Scott

    Palin's fifteen minutes are up.

    June 15, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  8. tom

    i have been watching Letterman for 20 plus years i understand hes not everyone's taste But in all those years i have never heard him make a sexual comment about an underage girl EVER . The joke was more about Arod and his dating habits then palin but Bristol does fit t he profile You cant pick your family Governor
    Where has Freedom of speech gone? and Dave i never thought you would apologize for a joke that the people that watch you knew was not about the younger palin and the flight attendant joke was funny and acurate as far as what most normal men have as a passing thought of the Governors "look"

    June 15, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  9. Ervin N Page

    I was so disappointed and disgusted that I will never watch his late show again. It seems apparent that Letterman and others feel it is open season on Palin. Who are these " artistic"types that bring this stuff foward-not to imply any excuse for Dave. He seems determined
    to beat Conan in the ratings but one wonders what his plan is with this
    kind of stupidity. Dave needs to examine his own life while selecting his jokes.

    We have two examples where women have been trashed for being out spoken in their beliefs on controversal issues. Wake up America
    there is clearity between right and wrong and I hope we are teaching
    it to our kids.

    June 15, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  10. susie

    Lettermen should be fired, just like they fired Imus.

    June 15, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Roger from CA

    It is SOOOOOO maddening how the mainstream media even now continue to be cowed by the radical right to give infinite column inches and/or air time and/or bandwidth to the "outraged" rants of the radical right. Palin is just one of the more recent of the beneficiaries of this editorial spinelessness.

    OOOOOHHHH! Maybe if you keep feeding them attention, they'll like you!!!!!

    Quit this nonsense. This is truly one of the most ridiculously overwraught and overplayed non-stories of the year (involving the most ridiculously overwraught and overplayed personas in the radical right–Sarah Palin). It is a shame that his corporate overlords finally forced Letterman to make multiple apologies. The first one was fine.

    June 15, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. To Catch a Predator

    Nobody's buying it Dave, so you might as well get back on your knees for Barry.

    June 15, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  13. Bob from Pittsburgh

    It was about time he apologized, if it was any of my two daughters he made the joke about I would be paying him a visit, and when it was over he would have a black eye.
    He was completely out of line.
    Oh I forgot… I completely disagree with governor Palin, But she is a mother first, and Tod should of pay a visit to Letterman , the Palins deserved better than what letterman ditch out..

    What a jerk....

    June 15, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  14. angry mom

    Mr. Letterman needs to know, no matter whose daughter he joked about or whatever the age of the girl is, that kind of joke just despised all women. It was unforgivable.

    June 15, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  15. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    Letterman was just caught up in the disrespectful climate of the Left-wing media. People on the far left are known for unchecked speech, and bad manners. Hopefully, Letterman's excesses and apologies will signal a change.

    June 15, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. Angelle

    He only apologizes after he is told he will lose his job. I am so offended by Letterman. He has insulted all women as far as I'm concerned. If all of America would get rid of their televisions we could change the next generation. My son is an "A" student. I stopped television when I was pregnant and it was one of the best things I have ever done! You too can discover the beauty that is your life! We don't need Hollywood, it has been a source for so much destruction in our country and the way the world perceives us.

    June 15, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. Davonroe

    I consider myself a liberal. Now, before anyone here decides to blast Sarah Palin because she's... Sarah Palin, think back to how you reacted when Rush made disparaging remarks about a preteen Chelsea Clinton during the early years of Bill Clinton's presidency.

    Bottom line, children, especially minor children, should be off limits. I'm sure Sarah Palin will give us plenty of bulletin board material before too long, but the kids are off limits, period!

    June 15, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. SoSaysSam

    Oh, take a joke Palin!@ Guess when you are a joke, taking one is hard!

    June 15, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  19. Ann

    Good for her. It is time to end with the double standards practiced by the Obama fans. Respect other people if you expect any respect.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  20. Ryan

    Just more fake outrage from the blame everyone Palin. Nobody was outraged that her 17 year old daughter WAS actually knocked up, but suddenly Palin cares when someone "talks" about it. Give me a break, How can anyone take this woman seriously? Don't we have more important things to care about?

    June 15, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  21. Bob

    Why is this even news? Who cares?

    June 15, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  22. Zero.

    Thankyou David. Now your a Man.

    June 15, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. frank

    too little too late
    if only the target had been a liberal!

    June 15, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  24. BJ

    It was more than a bad joke, it was inexcusable. Imagine if that joke was about Obama's daughters or Chelsea Clinton. He would have been fired and at the very least his apology would have come day 1 not a week later. Besides, does it matter which daughter? It's just as bad to say something like that about any young girl, or woman of any age. Don't blame Sarah Palin, wouldn't want my daughter around Letterman, or any man, who made a joke like that about my daughter. Where are the boundries?

    June 15, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. David

    Now Sarah, please shut up and go away. Your family needs you more than the spotlight does. If your ego can't accept that, you'll continue making mountains out of mole hills and continue making a fool of yourself in public.

    June 16, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
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