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. TM of CO

    Boo hoo Sarah. You keep putting yourself in the public spotlight so you should be prepared to be the brunt of many jokes by comedians. I have heard some good ones about alot of former politicians and political wannabes, yet I don't hear them whining. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    June 11, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. ChrisTodd

    Palin is a Phony and a liar! Do she ever get tired responding daily with stupid comments.... We are sick of her period. I have never witness an ex VP wannabe-acting this way after an election. She is toooo full of herself. Oh John what did we do to deserve such a dimwit....

    June 11, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Corey

    Palin can dish it but can't take it – this is a surprise?

    June 11, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Just out of curiosity, if A-Rod knocked up Willow, I wonder will Sarah Palin allow her to get an abortion if Willow didn't want to keep the child. Let me see how pro-life she is then.

    June 11, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Jason

    This country has completely lost its sense of humor. Why don't you people complaining about Letterman's jokes just go to Washington and turn in your right to free speech. You seem to be against it anyway. I think the jokes were hilarious, so why don't all you right wing nuts just shut up. You're all in bed by the time Letterman comes on anyway.

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

    Come on, give Palin a break. She has been trying so hard to look informed, cultured, and intelligent.
    It isn't working, but you have to give her a "10" for effort!
    And Dave, the flight attendant one was right on.

    June 11, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. Chris

    He is not showing any 'class' here at all. He said a disgusting joke regardless of what daughter it is. You dont go after someones kids!!!! thats low and pathetic. If i was there father id go after dave in a major way.

    June 11, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. Joanne

    Letterman should be fired. His so called joke was totally inappropriate and not at all funny. Say something about Obama's girls and see what happens. Talk about a double standard.

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

    I took this as a slam not only against the Palins but against Alex Rodriguez...suggesting he would have sex with an under age teen..Not funny

    June 11, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Kevin

    Palin they get it from their momma

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

    Message to Sarah Palin: YOUR 15 MINUTES ARE UP!!

    I agree with Grog as to the rank and shameless hypocracy of her 'outrage' at a joke about a public figure (yes, using her family as campaign props made them public figures) and her lack of outrage at her unruly mob of followers call to "kill him", meaning Barack Obama, during the campaign.

    As for Letterman, all that can be said is that jokes about Sarah Palin, Inc. are passe. Time for new writers.

    June 11, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. K. Owens

    For once I have to agree with Palin .... David Letterman's jokes (or in this case, the Top 10 List) will never be as funny as her public speaking. I guess she missed the seminar on how you have to take the good with the bad when you become a public figure.

    June 11, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. Bubba

    The only daughter I ever heard of is the one who got pregnant because her mom wouldn't let her use birth control. Do these self-absorbed movie stars think everyone keeps up with how many rug rats they breed? Give me a break from The Palin Family©, please.

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

    Letterman's apology is disingenuous at best. Clearly with a new opponent on the Tonight Show, Dave needs to make headlines any way he can. He works for CBS and 'jokes' such as this make him the Dan Rather of comedy; kool-aid drinking, lefty sheep.

    Amazingly there are glibs spinning this as if it were ok in some way...truly astounding.

    June 11, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. johnny

    @ Momof4 June 11th, 2009 8:58 am ET

    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.

    Did you even watch the show? There was NO JOKE about rape! Women get knocked up ALL THE TIME without having been raped. It happened to Bristol once already, because she is sexually active. Women get pregnant through CONSENTUAL SEX too. Sheesh!

    June 11, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Timothy

    Palin needs to GO AWAY. I like Dave's jokes. Quite frankly, I am rather surprised that Palin and her family still have all their teeth and wear shoes.

    June 11, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. MLH

    He is a comedian who made a joke about an 18 year old. Last I heard they were considered adults. This particular adult has appeared on magazine covers, presumably without coercion, and seems to have made herself a public figure.

    June 11, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. Mark

    I used to like David Letterman, I don't anymore.

    His recent comments are sexist, inappropriate, and amature.

    I thought he was better than this.

    June 11, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. TiminDC

    How pathetic it is to see some of the comments posted by so many morally deficient and pitiful individuals. This nation has truly sunk into the depths of depravity. Makes one ashamed to be an American.

    I’d like to think that there is hope for these people (willing to bet most of the derogatory and immature remarks posted here are from the jobless under 30 crowd), but in looking around the country during my travels…we are in serious trouble in the coming years. Thankfully, I won’t have to depend on any of you for my health and welfare.

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. history repeats


    because he has a young wife hes a pervert? are you in 4th grade? you're gonna go beat him up? jeez man where do these people come from?

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. Jeff in PA

    Letterman wouldn't know what good taste means if it hit him between the eyes.

    He is pond scum.

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Dan

    So to all you crazy libs... It's OK for an old man to make crude disgusting remarks about an 18 year old teenage female just because you disagee with her mother's politics? You people are pathetic!

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Baccus

    Letterman isn't funny. He cannot be compared to Leno, who puts tens of hours of work into each night's monologue – he really works at his trade. Letterman shoots from the hip – a broken one, at that.
    His time has long passed.
    Does anyone really watch him anymore?

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Charles

    Jokes about Bristol Palin getting knocked up ceased to be inappropriate once she got knocked up.

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. samiam60

    You will never ever find a fair and balanced liberal on CNN

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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