June 11th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
14 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. linda A

    Palin and her dude deliberately used this as an opportunity to make a headline. She will go to any lengths to keep her picture in the news.

    Letterman is a swell guy.

    June 11, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  2. Ryan Indy

    Love to see how the Left will spin this one........Some how they wont accept responsiblity and this will be Palins fault. NEVER and i do repeat ever can a democrat just accept responsibility ........Just ask NANCY PELOSI.......

    June 11, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Peter

    How ironic that Willow was at a Yankees game...

    June 11, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  4. Grog in Ohio

    Odd how Palin wasn't quite as prompt to criticize as "inappropriate" yells from her hordes of adoring fans of "kill him" in reference to candidate Obama. I guess it matters who's ox is being gored.

    June 11, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. RB

    Letterman has lost all the viewers in my household. This is over the edge and the "so-called" apology is lame at best. If you want to go after a politician, then leave the children out of it. They are out of bounds. What has society gotten to when the audience is laughing when Letterman said this. Why didn't anyone in the audience boo him?

    Right and Left: clean up your act and become civil in your disagreements. If we can't respectively discuss the issues then this county is headed for disaster.

    June 11, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. johnny

    It was hilarious. She needs to suck it up. If she wishes to continue a political career, she needs to get herself a thicker skin. I hope Dave doesn't let up. When I heard the joke, I initially thought of the older girl, "Bristol" because we KNOW she is sexually active, in spite of her good Christian Family Values upbringing. I'm sure most people did. I was not aware she was accompanied by her younger daughter, because really, who cares which daughter was with her? Maybe if she left her kids at home instead of flying them all over the place, there wouldn't have been any question in her muddled mind which daughter he meant.

    June 11, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. bigTXoil

    why is Palin still on the radar? go away, please......

    June 11, 2009 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  8. Angela

    I think that Palin is an insult, so is she going to apologize to me?

    June 11, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Momof4

    Letterman's comments were inappropriate whether he was talking about a 14, 18 or 30 year old woman. Men who laugh about raping a woman of any age should be held accountable. If Imas can be fired by a racial comment he made then Letterman should be fired for his comments regarding women. It was as hateful as Imas' comments. And isn't this a double standard. When Michele Obama was being critized for comments she made in a speech, the President said "hands off attacking my wife" and the media refrained after that from critizing her during the campaign. It's amazing that Sarah Palin and her family haven't been given the same consideration.

    June 11, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Sean

    Wow, Letterman admits to bad taste? What a surprise...

    June 11, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. nickii

    Hmm - is there supposed to be a difference between abusing the 14-year-old vs the 18-year-old daughter? It's a poor joke no matter who it's directed to. Not clear about the point of Letterman's commentary. The joke veered beyond poor taste into the realm of being offensive. I'm not a Palin fan (I'm one of those leftists she would despise), but I am uncomfortable with the unrelenting criticism and the quality of the negative statements lodged at her by comedians and political pundits. Sexism lurks and its ugly. Discredit her policies, not her person, please.

    June 11, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. Horace in Miami

    Is it just me or does she really remind me of Peggy Bundy of 'Married With Children..."? I bet that's why these old white men come out to see her so they can fantasize about her. lol. As for the Letterman comments, he did what he always do which is be a comedian.

    June 11, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  13. Greg

    Palin knew who Letterman was talking about and it wasn't the 14 year old. This woman cannot stay out of media she hates so much. Every one knows what Letterman was saying and she's just trying to capitalize on it. Every time she opens her mouth she looks even worse. Bad news for her. A recent poll showed she's not the top conservative but in fourth place. Thank God!!! This country would die if this socialist ever became president.

    June 11, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  14. Michael Carr

    It really does not matter which daughter he was referring to. His "jokes" were gross. In his reference to Eliot Spizer, is Lettermann really saying he didn't want to imply that 14 year old Willow Palin was a prostitue? Rather he meant to say that 18 year old Bristol was a prostitute! Some apology! He should retract all remarks and issue a full and proper apology. Which, of course, would be fully accepted by Governor Palin.

    June 11, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. Jack

    See Letterman, that's what you get when you poke fun at Willow Palin. You're barking up the wrong tree right there...

    June 11, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  16. Carole

    Dave is showing 'class' here, he apologized. Comedians often cross the line...so what is new here? What is not new is Sarah Palin playing on the Main Stream Media she despises. Sarah Palin is using the MSM. Sarah knows he was NOT referring to her 14 year old daughter.

    Palin needs to quit putting her adult aged, 18 year old, on covers of magazines and doing television interviews.

    June 11, 2009 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. sensi johnson

    This woman is pettite and is always looking for public sympathy for her children. When is the wedding Sarah? I mean your daughter Bristol's wedding?

    June 11, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. Jon

    Sarah, get lost. Your 15 minutes are up.

    June 11, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  19. CRG

    David should be removed from his show for at least one month with out pay for his comments on Governer Palin's daughters. At 18 or 14 they are still minors in the USA .

    June 11, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. gina

    Dave's comments were out of line towards women and children. They were no better than Imus's comments toward the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team!

    It's time for Dave to retire.

    June 11, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  21. Mitch

    Now if only Palin will finally apologize for her remarks and inciting hate against Obama during the campaign, everyone will be happy!

    June 11, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. SkiDoc

    Letterman is a beneath-contempt, absolute scumbag.

    June 11, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. samiam60

    Letterman crossed the line and he knows it. Time to apologize David.

    June 11, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. CW

    get over it Palin. You're a "celeb" and an easy target. Comedians are going to make fun of you and your family. Your a pushy woman who got her buttons pushed. Hows that feel.

    June 11, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. this liberal democrat against Obama

    Doesn't matter, he's washed up anyways. He's an old bag who fouled up a woman to become a father at 50 years old. That to me is so sickining.

    He's the SICK ONE!

    June 11, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
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