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. Jon

    I stopped watching Letterman long ago.

    June 11, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  2. Miss P

    I want to hear some Rush Limbaugh jokes.

    June 11, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Ron J

    I watched Letterman's "Non apology "apology" last night. Sorry Dave. I'll never watch you again.

    June 11, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. Polar Bears Against Palin

    Why are you apologizing? You speak the truth. Caribou Barbie and her trashy family are trash.

    June 11, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. REA

    Palin have no one to blame accept herself she used her children in front of camers we she was trying so hard to win with john mccain.and she is still out bad mouthing the PRESIDENT Mr. Obama you know the old saying what goes around comes around.stop using your children.

    June 11, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. jane doe

    Poor taste or not, if the Palins had just ignored it, it would've gone away. People like me who don't watch Letterman would never even have heard it, and even those who watch it would have long since moved on. But in their typical publicity-seeking manner, the Palin family has decided once again to ask everyone to focus on them. All Sarah Palin seems capable of thinking is "me, me, me". Thank goodness she is NOT a heartbeat away from the presidency!

    June 11, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Dave

    I'm glad Dave appologized. That was a lousy joke. Sarah Palin is a sociopath, a disgrace, and a national embarrassment, but leave her children out of it.

    June 11, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I bet Sarah and Todd will accept Letterman's invitation. She's going to make this out to be some kind of political deal when it's not. Your daughter is a freak Sarah. And please don't aggravate my fellow New Yourk brethren more than you already have by accepting Dave's invitation. He may have asked you guys to come, but he really wants you to stay home, like the rest of New Yorkers do.

    June 11, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Expat American

    No one with an education cares about Palin. Let her stand tall in her $150K worth of Victoria’s Secret unmentionables. Whether or not Letterman's joke about Sarah Palin was in poor taste is irrelevant – as she and her family are. She lost and she will never be President. There are more important matters at hand, such as the violent actions committed by her likely supremacist poor white trash scum supporters.

    Palin will fade away if the media will let her...or at least until the next act of domestic terrorism is perpetrated by a 'Christian' member of the Conservative Right (i.e. another ignorant dime-a-dozen ‘Country First’ believer).

    God Bless America. But most importantly, God Bless Sarah Palin.

    June 11, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. Dan, TX

    This guy is a shameless and immoral. He got married recently and has child. Imagine if someone had to say same thing about is wife and the child. Get a life. In Barack's kingdom, everyone can say anything they like and get away with it.

    June 11, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Well, what do you expect? You throw your kids out there to further your political career and they become fodder to some comedian on late night tv. You wanted privacy, and your family respected? You should've kept them away from the limelight, and, quite frankly, done a better job of raising them. Trigger, Jigger, Bigger... i mean, good grief!

    June 11, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  12. mariah

    palin and her jesus rants is the last person to be talking about morals

    June 11, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Al in Florida

    Sometimes Letterman is funny, but jokes about ANY of Sarah Palin's daughters are completely inappropriate and in poor taste. As a father himself, he should know better.

    June 11, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. DAVE

    Welcome to the world of the left. dont agree with there politics try your best to discrace there name. oh dont forgrt there kids too. open game if there kids of a rebublican. They said nothing thru the election, no public statements, sat there and waved– just like obamas kids did.
    politics to the side this woman has been run thru the ringer.
    First time i heard of her on the news they said she was the alaskan governor and her husband had a dwi 20 years ago.
    Welcome to the media of the U.S.
    Again welcome to the left of today

    June 11, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  15. energy

    Letterman should be off the air. Such statement cannot be accepted. The fear of Sarah Palin's potential is driving the left stupid and is setting up for serious consequences. Women should boycott Letterman's show. The Federal Communications agency MUST take Letterman off the air!!

    June 11, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  16. Barry

    I find it repulsive that Letterman (I am a fan of the show) would joke about anyone's young daughters this way. Whether they are 14 or 18 I feel that it was deffinately in poor taste. If it was my daughters I would be very upset. It is one thing to attack Sarah Palin, but to attack her daughters is something that I believe most Americans with high values and morals would find offensive.
    President Obama's daughters and wife were off limits during the elections as well as they should have been. The Palin daughters are not running for public office and should be given the same respect. In my opinion Letterman and Saturday Night live were and are wrong.

    June 11, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  17. JohnM

    If she appears on Letterman, he will have a Translator for her gibberish. You know letterman, he’s like the gotcha media and bloggers asking all those hard comical questions

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  18. mw

    poor taste is what rush, dicky, sean, laura, ann indulge in ad nauseum.
    david is a late night comedian-being funny is who he is and what he does. all comedians sometimes cross the line for a laugh. that is why people go see them perform and turn on the tv.
    the above mentioned crazies are not funny, nor relevant, not appreciated, not necessary, and are daily engaged in hatespeech.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. Jackie

    could you even imagine this story if it were about Obama's daughters? Or if he made the same comments about Michelle Obama that he did about Palin? His professional career would be over, instead, he will probably win a Tony.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. Keith Smith

    At one time in my life I used to watch David Letterman, but not for 10 years as I find him stooping ever lower, opportunistic of every slip up or human frailty. He and his writing staff are akin to the smart-aleck kid on the playground pointing out other kids deformities in order to get a cheap laugh...and to deflect any criticism of deformities they may have. It is a shame that CBS continues to air this drivel, that I put in the same class as the mind-numbing reality shows run on cable channels and the syndicated talk shows, such as Jerry Springer, that exploit human dignity. It is a shame that Americans watch and are influenced by the proselytiizing of David Letterman.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. John G

    Right he was talking about the one who wasn't at the game getting knocked up at the game...makes perfect sense to me.

    Let's face it. He has been a long time critic of Palin and like most of her critics, his criticism has devolved into name calling and mean spirited sniping as opposed to legitimate criticism of her stances and views. The joke wasn't about Bristol, it was about whatever Palin daughter was handy at the time.

    This is the current state of the DNC though. I can't remember a criticism of McCain and Palin during the campaign that didn't contain a vile and embarrassing amount of name calling and school yard bully tactics.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  22. Proud DHS radical

    I guess Dave is one of those old, bitter, white hair men that the Dem's were talking about the other day. Add Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to that list too.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  23. middle of the road

    I agree that it was inappropriate, but why do you think he would have even considered such a remark? Limbaugh comes out with much worse than this on a daily basis and the republicans bow so low to him they can smell his farts. Letterman apologized, and explained his comments. If the Palin's can't stand the heat get out of the lower 48. I didn't know Alaskans were so sensitive. I mean with all the shooting, killing and unwed pregnancies, I'm surprised they are so thin skinned.

    June 11, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Tom

    Dave, how about an actual apology instead of a weasel-worded ducK.

    June 11, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Letterman' bias has shown for the last 20 years and when anyone calls him on it he he makes a lame joke or half witted "apology". I guess it is only ok for him and his Hollywood buddies to have children out of wedlock but not Republicans.

    June 11, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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