June 16th, 2009
10:07 PM ET
5 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. S Callahan

    Nothing person Maher....but you may want to sit this one out...people are still pretty peeved you insulted their faith and places of worship.
    I do have to agree...this was blown way out of proportion. David Letterman's character speaks for itself. He is a decent man and should not be fodder for political agendas. He is a comedian, let him do his work which lightens the load of many a stressed Americans.

    June 16, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Skyview

    I agree with Maher; Letterman should not have apologized. Bristol Palin is a public figure and therefore is a appropriate subject for such jokes. The Adult Palin family put themselves in the spot light, and it is proper to joke about them. Sarah Palin twisted Letterman's Joke to fit somthing he never intended, then she tried to score political points from it..But like everything else she does this act of hers was stupid, illogical, useless and completely ignorant.

    June 16, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  3. bk

    Two idiots that have no reguard for women.

    June 16, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. george from alaska

    palin is a hater!

    June 16, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  5. Thomas

    She said she wouldn't campaign in unpatriotic parts of the country. Meaning those that don't vote republican regularly. She never condemned the racists in her crowd waving watermelons and stuffed monkeys but made a big deal of nothing. This was disgraceful and she will continue to pay a dear price for this hate rhetoric.

    June 16, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  6. lana

    I thought it was funny, too. He should have apologizing only once. I have heard much worse jokes about the Palins.

    June 16, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  7. BraveSaintStuart

    Of course Bill Maher is going to come to Letterman's defense. Of course, if Letterman were to have made the joke about anyone even moderately liberal, Maher would have said nothing. He's political hackery at its worst (see also: old episodes of Crossfire or Hardball). His Politically Incorrect/Real Time shows are always the same... one hardline or even moderate conservative being bashed by several hardline liberals. It only serves to divide, and it only trades one form of intolerance for another.

    June 16, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  8. Marco

    Bill is so right. Leno made almost the same exact joke last year, but Palin tolerated it because McCain wanted to be on Jay. Now that she lost, she's suddenly sensitive.

    Btw, McCain made a joke about Chelsea Clinton in 1998. Sarah? Are you going to take this one?

    June 16, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. Grrr-awful-o

    One has-been supporting another. Now that is funny!

    June 16, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  10. Reatte Beaumont, Texas

    There both a piece of trash and I hope that both their shows have there ratings just flop and have to be taken off the air. They are like a ball of gas that need to disappear from the airwaves. Maher needs to go back to the woods and crawl under the rock he was born under and one day Letterman will have a joke made about his family like that and then we will see how he will take it. No ones family is fair game like the way they have done Palin and I don't care if you like her or not it's pretty sad when they pull the families in on this crap that they have done. Look what happened to people like Imus, Limbaugh, and the rest , but one of the democracts buds make a comment like that they don't say anything but when the shoes on the other foot they start to scream what a double standard but that is par for the course. What a joke of all.

    June 16, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  11. Sue

    Hmm. A comment coming from Bill Mahar, a man who is against the Catholic Church, should be taken with a grain of salt. I think his approach to decency is in the gutter. If he were a dad of teenage girls, would he approach the joke the same way?

    June 16, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  12. John - MO

    I agree! I'm mad as hell with Letterman for apologizing to the woman who propped her children up – calling the dyfunctional family as having family values. This lady has some serious problems and her looks failed on the national scene....

    June 16, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  13. Dana

    There was no need for an apology. Anyone who has placed him or herself willingly in the public eye has given the right to have people comment or joke–even about family. And it was just a joke.

    June 16, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. Alan

    Who is Bill Maher??

    June 16, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  15. Drew

    Bill Maher = Trash

    June 16, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. aware

    This is redundant CNN. What about Obama's total lack of wisdom or courage in speaking up for democracy in Iran? Shame on the arrogant, audacious, narcissistic, coward! :(

    June 16, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  17. Bob the Observer

    Oh, well, if Bill Maher says it, it must be right. Is this the same BM that couldn't keep a show on network TV because he didn't know how to keep an audience? He sounds like an expert to me.

    BM was never the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he continues to prove it. HBO must have needed a tax write-off.

    June 16, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  18. Dennis, Amarillo Texas

    CNN = A Joke
    +
    Maher = A Joke

    Total Joke = Totally Irrelevancy

    June 16, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  19. not brainwashed

    Ofcourse he does!

    June 16, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  20. DjacK Height

    Why in the world is CNN asking Bill Maher to comment on this issue? The guy is extremely controversial himself, so what do they expect him to say? Well, I guess they expect him to say this:

    "It was an easy and obvious joke to make. It was funny. It was not offensive in any way,"

    Not offensive in any way? Is this absurd Maher opinion surprising given the FACT that Maher made this statement about Palin's daughter in September 2008?

    “I’m not that convinced that that’s her baby,” Maher said. “It’s not like they’re not willing to lie about everything else.”

    So now CNN is giving a platform for the defense of a controversial joke by a person who himself made a hateful statement about the exact same victim of the controversy. How irresponsible can CNN be?

    June 16, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. SAY WHAT??

    You tell 'em Bill!

    The only thing perverted about Dave's joke was the false sense of injury portrayed by Palin. This is just one more opportunity to have her name and face in the public view.

    She had no problem parading Frick, Frack and Fluke in front of the public during her pathetic campaign with Joe the Plumber's grand-dad.

    COME ON PEOPLE! LETTERMAN IS A COMEDIAN! HIS JOKE WAS FUNNY!

    What's really funny is Palin's "acceptance" of Dave's apology statement. She has excelled in putting a sentence together, but stringing more than one thought at a time is still difficult.

    Maybe we can get a few troops to go to Alaska to continue to protect her "freedom of speech". A language coach might be helpful too!!

    June 16, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  22. trueblue

    I agree with Bill Maher; the media just won't stop covering any stupidity Palin does or says. What is wrong with us? and you?

    June 16, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  23. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    Creating a tempest in a teapot is one of Palin's favorite tricks. Remember "Lipstick on a pig?" Letterman clearly didn't mean the 14-year-old; for her to keep repeating that he did makes it obvious she's either stupid or campaigning. Since the woman obviously isn't the former, it's just more of the same old same old Sarah, using her children to attack the fiendish Liberal media.

    June 16, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  24. Jeff R.

    You know thing the that irks me about this whole thing is that I believe the real point of this ordeal is that it is very poor taste to be taking digs at Palin's children to begin with. Nevermind if it was Willow or Bristol...you don't talk about the woman's kids like that. The ultra liberal National Organization for Women didn't think so either, perhaps suggesting that maybe...even if the joke was CLEARLY about Bristol Palin...was grossly inappropriate...and to me is no different than what Don Imus did. Should they fire Letterman? Of course not. Was is not offensive in any way as Bill Maher would claim? OF COURSE IT WAS. In and out of context.

    June 16, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. Pam Whitehead

    Sarah Palin will snatch any opportunity to promote Sarah Palin. Why didnt Mother Palin instruct and protect her daughter with good,sensible,motherly advice before her dauhter became pregnant?It is scary to know that this woman ran for vice President. If she can't protect her guide her daughter,how could she protect and defend the U.S.A. I think she is an outrageous opportunist and all for Sarah.

    June 16, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
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