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. Jim in Florida

    Letterman just can't let it go , can he? Why this slug thinks he has to continually debase these women is beyond me – maybe it's just a continuation of the Obama crowd's poor treatment of women.

    Most of the posters here on CNN are left wing, the usual assortment of Bush bashing, Palin bashing,. Christian bashing, day in and day out.

    Yet this is the same gaggle that would tell us we cannot criticize Obama – nooooooo – not the new God of the Left.

    Letterman and people like him, the chickens will come home to roost, losers.

    June 11, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Gayle

    Oh, he was making the joke about an 18 year old instead of a 14 year old, so that makes it ok, or actually funny? If he is so intent on making jokes about people in the news, there are plenty of people who say or do stupid things that would make far better material, than the fact that an 18 year old had a child out of wedlock. How about our illustrious president's lack of skill speaking Austrian? Letterman is....how do you say it in egyptian? Not very funny.

    June 11, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Mich

    Which daughter did he mean well when he was telling the joke film of the ballgame was on with Palin and her 14 years old. People he is a dirty old man.

    June 11, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Maybe the comment was in bad taste, but it's comedy. Just like when Wanda said she hopes Rush Limbaugh's kidneys fail. lol. I still can't get over that one.

    June 11, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. plyj

    To johnny:

    I'm sure if this was said about any Dem or Lib you would have gone sky high about it. Look, it's not appropriate on either side of the political fence.

    June 11, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Martin

    As much as I enjoy watching Sarah Palin shrink the GOP to the Anti-Intellectual, Racist, Homophobic Jesus-Freak segment of our population, she needs to go in hiding for a while.

    June 11, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  7. windfall

    Misleading headline.

    Palin's just trying like hell to stay in the news.

    June 11, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Buffalo Bill

    I use to be a big Letterman fan, but over the years he seems to have become bitter about a country in which he has prospered greatly....same can be said about another one of my former favorites, Bruce Springsteen. C'mon guys, it ain't to late to take a "right" turn, to at least get back to the center. "Born (and proud?) in the USA!

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

    not surprising she deliberately chose to misunderstand which daughter...she likes to be the center of attention no matter which daughter she has to hurt...

    June 11, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. JA/TN

    Palin made statements on the campagin trail about President Obama, without apologies

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. Adam from Ohio

    When Palin trotted the pregnant kid out there as a campaign prop, the ban on ever speaking about the kid was lifted.

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. jim

    You are not funny. Imagine making the same comments about Obama's wife and daughters. Why is it o.k. to say those things to Sarah palin and her 14 year old daughter . And he is still not man enough to apologize. Time to retire Dave.

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

    He can downplay it but it wasn't poor taste. It was crude and offensive and he never would have said anything remotely close to it about anyone else. He has never even met Palin, yet has some personal animosity towards her.

    I think Palin was right, Dave is a closet pedophile.

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. phoenix86

    Guess no jokes about the Obama girls being pimped out Dave?

    More double-standards from the left. I'm used to their hypocracy.

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. Thy

    I don't believe David L. Now he claimed the joke was for the 18. No, he turned around because it did not go well with the public. I will stop watching the Late Night.

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

    Dave Letterman has crossed the line and my family is disgusted with his gutter-level humor. We look forward to the day his show comes to its inevitable end.

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. Super MOD

    You have got to be kidding me? Showing class. Did Don Imus show class when he appologized? He was fired.

    June 11, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  18. Lorraine Hynes

    Sarah Palin is in "poor taste"....It's amazing in this United States of America that such a freakazoid could actually be elected governor of a state. 'Course, it is Alaska.

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. MAGGIE

    Shame on you David Letterman for your disgusting remark and shame on the audiance who thought it was funny.

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  20. Expat American

    Was Letterman's joke equal in bad taste as Palin's 'Real America' or 'He's not one of us' campaign zingers?

    I'd love to hear what was said behind closed doors of her campaign headquarters....oh wait....I'm sure it was all 'Good Christian Conservative Banter' with Lee Greenwood playing in the background.

    Palin will go away if the media will let her – including late night talk shows that see her only as a mean to boost their ratings. Her folksy woodchuck hillbilly demeanor is free ratings/tabloid material, nothing more; kind of like Brittany Spears stepping out of a car.

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

    Let everyone know when you have the courage to make jokes at the expence of the Obamas Dave.

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. Jerry American

    Dave you have crossed the line , you are now officially branded a perv. Hope is not a plan people impeach BHO before its to late for America

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. Michael

    At least Letterman apologized. During her campaign Palin accused Obama of consorting with terrorists. No apology needed. She's a republican. They do no wrong.

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. Alex

    I didn't even know Palin had a second daughter and I don't think I'm alone in that. Most people who don't already have a chip on their shoulder regarding Palin would have gotten the fact it was a reference to the older daughter. If Palin and her supporters get upset over this then they better hope she gives up any plans to run for president because this is minor stuff compared to what they'll be faced with (unless they do what Obama has done by preempting most comedians by making the jokes himself first – but I can't see Palin lampooning herself the way Obama and McCain have),

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. Pat in Jackson

    David Letterman is SSOO past tense – does anyone watch that show anymore??

    June 11, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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