June 16th, 2009
10:07 PM ET
6 years ago

Maher backs Letterman in Palin joke controversy

(CNN) – After days of being criticized for an off-color joke about the daughter of Alaska's Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, late night TV talk show David Letterman got a vote of support from a fellow comedian.

Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time," called the apology that Letterman issued Monday "a real shame."

Related: Letterman apologizes to Palins over 'coarse joke'

"David Letterman should not have had to apologize," Maher told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room. "I've known David Letterman a long time."

"He's a very fundamentally decent Midwesterner. It's just not in his DNA to have said something that they're accusing him of saying," Maher added.

"It was an easy and obvious joke to make. It was funny. It was not offensive in any way," the HBO host said after detailing his take on the circumstances leading up to Letterman's controversial joke. "And they made it sound like he said something completely different. So he's apologizing for something he never meant, never thought, and never said."

Related: Palin accepts Letterman's apology

"I've been through this," Maher told Blitzer. "It stinks."

Maher's show appears on HBO, a sister network of CNN that also is owned by Time Warner.


Filed under: David Letterman • Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin • The Situation Room
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Bill Mahr is WRONG. Your job is to be FUNNY not MEAN. You can pick on the politicians all you want, but their spouses, especially their kids, super especially sexual jokes about underage kids is completely INAPPROPRIATE and NOT FUNNY. David Lettermen did the right thing by giving a real apology. All politicians introduce family on the trail and at the conventions but that doesn't put a bulleye on them. It is NOT about politics. If a comedian made a sexual joke about one of Obama's girls I would be equally outraged. Imus, Letterman, Richards, Gibson – – all said inappropriate things and all apologized. Now lets drop this topic and get back to our normal lives.

    June 16, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  2. Robert LeMaster

    "It was an easy and obvious joke to make. It was funny. It was not offensive in any way,"
    Maher, you have to be kidding. The comment was TRASH. Why don't you SPECIAL MEDIA TYPES WHO HAVE ACCESS TO THE MASSES clean up your acts. Raise the moral standard or should I say push it back up a few notches. Would you have made this comment about the President's daughters??? Or any comment about them that is that is low and demeaning?
    No No , because you and Letterman would have lost your job for that. You two march to a double standard when you take your cheap sexist shots.

    June 16, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. zack, Chicago

    well, duh, maher would say that. has anyone reading this ever watched his show? he HATES sarah palin and because she stands up for what she believes in – which is her unalienable right. something maher parades around like he is a champion of. he is hypocritical. he tries to pass himself off as some independent. its a bizzare charade. for example: maher has this hellbent issue with any reference or idea of a higher being. anyone who thinks different is an "idiot". just a weird show.

    June 16, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  4. Vincent Petrosino

    Maher has been dubbed the king of "bad taste". His opinion is worthless. Furthermore, his tirade against President Obama was in bad taste as well. To accuse this president of not working hard enough is ludicrous! Media coverage is media coverage of President Obama doing or saying things that effects all of us. Compare his first six months to President Bush's before you rant again. Bush did not even start his mayhem until six months had passed!

    June 16, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  5. Jaycee

    He owes us an apology for bringing the Palins back into the limelight.

    June 16, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  6. Mike Kaufman

    Would Mr. Maher think it was funny if the same thing would have been said by Rush Limbaugh about one of Obama's daughters?

    June 16, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  7. Ed Watson

    dislike Palin, like Letterman, dispise Maher – saw him on his HBO show a few days ago and forgot how repugnant he is

    June 16, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  8. J Robinson

    I agree. It's all about a name: "Sarah Palin", a face and nothing else. Media exposure opportunity, blatantly opportunistic. Zero substance.

    June 16, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  9. Letterman vs. Goforth

    If Letterman doesn't need to apologies for his joke because then Sherri Goforth shouldn't have to apologies for the email she sent out with the Presidential portraits that show two eyes in a black square for Obama. "It was an easy and obvious joke. It was funny. It was not offensive in any way."

    It's okay for liberals to make fun of conservatives but when the tables are turned, heads are suppose to role. Nice double standard!!

    I thought we lived in a country were we can have and state our own opinion without repercussions.....boy was I wrong!!

    What a sad country the USA has become!!

    June 16, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Maher has gone off the deep end. Telling people what to do. Thank GOD the president is an intellect that can cast aside Maher's rants. Now, Maher gets in the way of common decency and complains when someone makes an egregious personal assault on another human. Maher was one I used to listen and believe, but now over the last few months I see B. Maher as a pompous bag of wind who loves to hear himself, and can no longer watch him on TV much less repect anything he stands for. B maher just nshut your big mouth!!!

    June 16, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. Bill

    Exactly. Everyone knows the reference was to the 18 year old and her "pregnancy" issues, which the Governor and her family have publicly exploited to the hilt for political and financial gain from day one. But Sarah saw a chance to keep her name in the news cycle yet another day (and maybe raise a few bucks for 2012!). No apology needed, Dave.

    June 16, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  12. Jamie

    Bill Maher is a comedian? When did this happen?

    June 16, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. cece

    Shame on Letterman and anyone else who resorts to a joke of this nature for a laugh. And support from Bill Maher? I wouldn't be too proud of that. He is someone who gives himself way more credit than he deserves.

    June 16, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. Debbie B

    Sorry Bill, but I disagree.

    The joke was WAY over the top. Totally inappropriate. I for one am glad he apologized in a sincere way. I just wish Letterman would have done this the first go round. I'm not saying this because I'm a Palin supporter, I am not.
    I am a parent and grandparent. Enough said.

    June 16, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  15. Faith

    Thanks Bill for Supporting our friend Dave. Palin just wanted some type of win. Palin get over it you lost in November 2008 this is 2009. Thanks for speaking up on Dave behalf Bill . I will be so glad when that Palin Mess if off the air. I will forever watch The David Letterman Show. If Palin come on the show I will not wach.

    June 16, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. Lance Haun

    What a surprise.

    June 16, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  17. patrice

    It is not the point that David Letterman 'is a good mid-westerner' or not. What the real issue is for young women it that they are constantly subjected to tv shows, movies, music videos, and yes, comedians, making suggestive and sexual commentaries about them. What used to occur when a young lady would pass by a construction site and occasionally be subjected to wolf-whistles and cat calls, is now commonplace at all hours across the television dial.
    Parents and anyone with common decency need to turn up the pressure on advertisers of these shows to make this type of 'comedy' at the expense of women of all ages -off limits! We need to act with our pocketbooks when we so shopping, and not purchase products from sponsors of tv shows that degrade women.

    June 16, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. Renee

    Bill Maher is full of it. I've heard him make several statements in the past few days saying "Obama needs to get off the TV and get to work." That's basically the only intelligent thing that's ever come out of his mouth. Keep that up, Bill – you're right on target. On the Letterman controversy, you're full of crap.

    June 16, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  19. Babs

    Palin wanted that joke to last a very long time and she said and did all that she could to keep it alive. After all, she was protecting all young woman. What a crock. There was so much playing to the public from her and Toddy boy with this that it made me ill.

    June 16, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. Joseph Wolfe

    Amen.... Bill. Sarah Palin is the same ridiculous loser she was when she attempted to run with McCain is his sad, pathetic, mud slinging attempt at the presidency. I heard Letterman's joke...at no time did he ever sound like he was advocating sexual abuse of minors, let alone children. This is just another example of a sad, little player's attempt to get in to the big leagues... Palin got her 15 minutes of fame... Now she needs to go back to badly running Alaska, being a truck stop waitress, a pole dancer or whatever she does...... but above all... just go away!!!!!

    June 16, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Toni

    Wonderful! Bill Mahar is also an arrogant, obnoxious, rude, unfunny
    idiot. Letterman is not now, nor has he ever been funny! What a pair!

    June 16, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. Kathy

    I agree with Mr. Maher–Mr. Letterman is being forced to shame himself and he doesn't deserve it. Every performer has a bad day once in a while. It's not like he actually advocated any immoral activity.

    Last night (Monday night) I was saddened to see how this situation has affected him professionally and personally. I hope that this doesn't lead to complete discouragement for him.

    I am quite conservative in my own way, and I believe that Mr. Letterman is a fine man who shows real caring and humanity in the way he carries himself.

    June 16, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  23. MatthewDetroit

    No Maher it wasnt offensive? Please be for real even if you are a liar.
    If the joke was about Baracks daughters someone would have been hung.
    IT is a real double standard that the press holds.
    It was wrong and terrible no matter who it was said about.
    It was low and very despicable. No one should tolerate it.
    Everything is NOT a joke. Some things are off limits and any joke like that should be.
    Where is NOW and the rest of the left wing.
    Wait until the next joke about Barack comes out and lets see how the left wing media handles it.

    June 16, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. Really?

    Governor Palin has won a great political victory for America and all Americans. I'm so glad she spent several days on this serious issue.

    As for her presidential aspirations, she really needs to find a bigger issue than bad jokes by late-night comedians. Otherwise, Obama would run circles around her in 2012.

    June 16, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. TheBigSarge

    no, letterman should not be fired, but when a comedy routine goes wrong, it needs to be rectified.

    take imus or richards as an example. they were vilified for statements they made. imus was not being racist although richards tirade clearly turned that direction.

    both needed to apologize as did letterman. i am not surprised that maher is not familiar with the 'high road'.

    -TheBigSarge

    June 16, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
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