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. Shari, NY

    I am not a Palin fan but I think it is time to let go of her and her family. I miss Jay Leno,

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |

    Letterman does come across as a pervert when he makes comments about a 14 yr old girl. I didn't hear any apology, just a round around like he always does.

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. NVa Native

    Everything that has to do with Palin is an example of poor taste.
    She is a has been (really a never has been) , her 15 minutes left with the plumber.

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. conniesz

    Letterman is, was, and always will be a comedian who often crosses "the line". This joke did not imply rape as A-Rod has never been accused of rape, he's just a play-boy type. It was funny in a very perverse way, I admit I laughed and then cringed when I first heard it. The outrage is misplaced – annoyance would have been a much better response.

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Fordy in Jamaica

    See how stupid Sarah Palin is?? Why would she immediately think Dave was referring to her 14 year old when she has a 16 y/o (still under aged) who got knocked up way before Dave's joke? Stupid woman I tell you..stupid!!

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Diane

    Ryan - wake up.
    It may not be Palin's fault, and I agree the joke was not in good taste, but give me a break. No party is perfect, but how can you talk about the democrats when the Bush party hurt this country more than any other President. Please can Palin just go away.

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  7. jengoescrazy

    Not only in poor taste, but this is worthy of boycott.
    Our household and our extended family will no longer purchase products from companies that advertise for this vile man who uses his comedian title to spew hatred at his political opposite.
    He is lame to use such perverted comments as network comedy.
    He nailed the coffin shut on this show for all of us (multi-state and both Democrat and Republican)!

    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |

    and if a comedic, (?) , entertainer joked about a pedophile sitting for Letterman's son, there would be NO outcry, right?

    and if a comedic entertainer joked about wishing a particular detrimental physical ailment on Obama, there would be NO outcry?


    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. pat

    I'm sure this uptight, humorless, backwards and very frightening woman would much rather Mr. Letterman wrote the controversial (and funny) joke in a book, so she could try to get it banned from libraries.

    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. sky

    Here's the deal, so what. So what if he says something she doesn't like....that's life.

    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Karen

    I agree the joke was in bad taste, but it does not change the fact Sarah Palin is also an embarrassment. Most people have a clue when they do something wrong or stupid – not her. She has done so much damage to her State and herself with her devisiveness and incompetence. While I'm sick and tired of all the news stories about her, it does nothing but help the Democrats to keep her in the forefront. So here's to Sarah, Newt, Dick, Rush, Anne, Sean, et al., keep up it up – we love what you are doing for the Democrats.

    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. Libertarian

    hahahaha.....Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. You're in the public eye now. Get used to it. I guess this is like you using the Bible to promote the Iraq War? Remember your statement, "...this is God's war". Please, you and your kind have been exploiting God and the Bible for far too long.

    If you played by all the rules in the Bible you wouldn't even be allowed to have a voice in society, you'd have a separate living quarters at home for your "unclean days", and your daughter would have to have been publicly stoned to death for her pre-marital sex. ahhh....isn't it nice to not have Biblical law?

    June 11, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. lovable liberal

    Letterman's joke was a bomb, but it was the Palin press operation that first used the word 'rape' because their interpretation of the joke was that it was about the 14-year-old and thus statutory rape.

    Letterman did NOT make a rape joke, just a stupid, tasteless one.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. Jeff

    Letterman makes a "joke" about the rape of a minor and he says it is "poor taste". Letterman is a bitter, hate filled old man who is no longer funny. CBS needs to do the right thing and have him fired or suspended.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. xarol

    What a jerk! How different is this comment from Don Imus's comment? He epitomizes everthing people have come to hate about the entertainment industry...tasteless and clueless.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Peoples Voice

    Anyone think she will apologize for any of the evil things she has said about President Obama. I, for one, will not be holding my breath waiting for her to do the Christian things.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Mike Philibert

    I thought Dave Letterman in the past exhibited poor taste and stopped watching his show quite a while back; be assured in my oppinion he should be removed from the air. He and those like his are responsible for the degredation of our society.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Mark from Vancouver, WA

    My God people, Dave never said anything about rape... it was a simple joke. Palin put her family in the spotlight for political gain, now she has to reap the consequences – you can't have it both ways!

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. CC

    If you have teenage kids, put yourself in her shoes and try not to let your political affiliation get in the way.

    If you don't have teenage kids, then shut the hell up as there is no way you can sympathize or empathize with this topic.

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Russia from my backyard

    The more Palin whines about being criticized the more they will criticize. Palin just needs to worry about being Governor of Alaska and leave the rest of the world alone.

    Palin you are not VP or Prez material, get over it.

    Move on!

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. dan in Tucson AZ

    Ms. Palin you need to get off your high horse and see the facts. You would think an unwed teenage pregnancy in your family would humble you, but instead. Palin continues to ignore the fact that she is a very busy working mom who has little time for her children like so many other mothers. For someone so entrenched in conservative ideology, the hypocrisy is almost laughable. So why not some jokes?

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Susan

    Johnny, the joke wasn't about her...it was about one of her kids. Why should she suck it up? Why should she go away? Would you not have something to say if someone said something like that about your daughter if you have one...or about a niece, or a close friend...gf ect..? This administration and the media who helped push it upon 48% of us will lose in the end because this is beyond ridiculous. It is nothing but hypocrisy and double standards and this is a perfect example of both!

    June 11, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. MikeH

    Letterman's comments are proof that Obama is a secret Muslum, wasn't born in the US, is the antichrist, and whatever else the Republican wackos who post here like to say.

    Letterman needs to remember that he's dealing with some pretty sick folks who will twist whatever he says, like they do to anyone of stature who they don't like.

    And yes, Letterman (and his writers) should have picked their words better. Bristol is a self-inflicted train wreck, but she should be left alone, her problems are due to how she was raised, pick on Sarah for that not Bristol.

    June 11, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Super D. in Montana

    wait lets all start a new blog against the movie 'Knocked up' that show was just offensive and vulgar. Talking about getting pregnant before marriage and not even with someone you love. Good grief do we have to be exposed to these sorts of despicable acts.Gosh darn you Dave for saying the truth about life here in our society today.

    June 11, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Jilli

    ms palin better thicken her skin if she wants to take the national stage. She threw some really horrendous allegations at the Obama camp during the run up to the election – and it's become apparent to me that she can't take what she dishes out. She's just looking for attention – shame on the media for giving it to her.

    June 11, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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