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. Tom Adams

    No class like low class...and David Letterman is the poster boy for low class. I am but a micro dot on the blip of tv audiences, but I will never watch anything to do with Sleazebag Letterman again. He is a perv, and Palin's response was classy and hard hitting. I wonder if the perv got it.

    June 11, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Bob

    David Letterman is sick for attacking Sarah Palin through her children. It one thing to mock a politician, but quite another to suggest that her children are trash and easy pickings by Alex Rodrigues.

    Shame on you, Mr. Letterman!

    Bob G.

    June 11, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. barking republican ankle biters

    Dave cant stand shear stupidity when he sees it and she is a poster child for it.

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. Jackie

    I watched Letterman's "apology". I'm not sure why he thinks his joke was more appropriate aimed at an 18 year old. Does he have some evidence that she has had sex with anyone other than the father of her baby? Where is the outrage at this cheap and disgusting shot? What a coward.

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Dennis R

    I have never liked Letterman. He's not funny. His jokes are always bland and his top 10's are always tasteless. Now he's taking back all that he said. Don't you read your scripts before telling something to the public? You're taking back what you said because somebody in your staff told you that it'll harm your ratings. David, you and your old jokes need to retire. Where's Jay Leno? I need some laugh...

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. rice, bryan

    go david, you have nothing to apologize for. if the rethugs can speak without thinking first, anyone has the right to do so. the apolgy was enough, and i like the joke about the flight atttendant.

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Hmmmm

    This guy was funny 20 years ago. Not any more. He needs to be replaced. Oh, to have Johnny Carson back.

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  8. greg

    David Letterman ceased being funny 10-15 years ago in my opinion. Say what you want about Sarah Palin I suppose, since she holds a public office as governer and ran for VP. But it is way over the line to make her kids the targets of 'humor' like that.

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

    Is she going to take issue with every comment made about her? She should have plenty to keep her busy (and sadly, it will also keep her in the news).

    June 11, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. floridaborn

    David Letterman is a jerk and needs to boycotted. Send letters to all of his commercial supporters – stop using their products until we get rid of this hack!

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

    Palin brought this on herself. I don't think Letterman should be apologizing. Tell her and her kids to go back to Alaska and stay there.

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

    Typical arrogance of the "entertainment" crowd. Here's a clown who shacked up with some broad for 13 years, making jokes about somebody else's behavior.

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Mich

    Poor taste a joke about a 14 year old girl it's in real poor taste. The FCC should look into this. Hey dave I don't know how your private life is but lets leave 14 year old girls out of your work and public life.

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. joel palmer

    It is only a matter of time before Willow Palin will have her fifteen minutes of fame. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree".

    This is a guarantee that that white trash family isn't done with their media junket just yet.

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. Amy

    If Sarah Palin wasn't so desperate for attention and to keep her name in the news – She would have let this go! BTW – she does dress and act like a Flight Attendant.... That was funny!

    I wanted her to go away, but doggone it.... She keeps us entertained daily....

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

    Gotta love the hypocrisy of the Palins' uproar over this. Of COURSE they're mad–no Palin daughter would have sex underage. Oh wait, how old was Bristol when she got pregnant?

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  17. plyj

    Well, what do you expect. Dave needs some publicity and this is his sick way of doing it. I quit watching him a long time ago when he started getting so political. Conan is the man.

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  18. Deb

    So now it's okay with Dave to joke about politician's kids, including the 18 year old Bristol, who is coping with single parenthood rather than going for the quickie abortion, eh? Game on.
    Biden's druggie daughter? nappy hair Malika? Pimping out Chelsea? no rules, huh?
    or is it only open season on conservative's kids?

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Ed

    Regardless of political party, Every women should be angry about these comments and this is coming from a man. Letterman has no class.

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Biff

    it was about an underage girl. The kid was 17 when she became pregnant

    June 11, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. Gerald

    Dave is clearly is a perverted jerk , but this is to be expected from most liberals in denial. Sarah brings brutal honesty to the plate and the libs just can't stand it. Just remember folks 47% of America did vote for her.

    June 11, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Scott from DC

    Probably poor taste, but Palin and her family are fair game since she claims to be so holier than thou...........

    June 11, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. Bob from Pittsburgh

    I don't agree with Sarah Palin on most things; however Mr Letterman should remember that children and close relatives of a Politician are not to be exploited. ""BACK OFF LETERMAN..""

    The Palins deserve an apology..

    June 11, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Carl from MI

    Yes it was... and it was also inappropriate for Sarah Palin not to impress Bristol with SAFE-SEX values and teachings, instead of pushing her radical right-wing abstinence-only agenda that worked out SO WELL with her own daughter's pregnancy that she continues to push it on the rest of us.

    Let us not forget that the same people that bashed Jamie Lynn Spears and other minors having babies embraced Bristol and Sarah Palin with open arms, all because of their political agenda.

    That, my friends... is hypocrisy at it's finest!!

    Make sure you remember that this fall when you vote!!!!

    June 11, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  25. Ron Dionne

    An admission of "poor taste" is nothing. And direct apology to Willow would be more appropriate. Dipping into the barrel of political jokes at the expense of a child is unacceptable.

    June 11, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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