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. Tim

    I can't wait for Dave's inappropriate jokes about the Obama girls. I'm sure they are coming any day now.

    Maybe something like he heard that the girls are proud of their dad for the first times in their life, they were always embarassed about his bake sale coordinating profession.

    Now Dave, that's funny. You should have never came out of retirement, your washed up.

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. MIke J

    He shouldn't have to apologize. he's a comedian and paid to tell jokes. granted, it was low-brow, but so what. jokes are jokes, get over it

    June 11, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. dustbunny

    grog in ohio
    The person that shouted ' Kill him" was a reporter from some small newspaper. Not a Palin supporter. Get your facts correct.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Sasha

    Bravo to Letterman to call himself out on bad taste if he thinks so – and for standing by the great joke that is worth standing by.

    Never seen such decent behavior from Palin. She has said so much (and so many lies) in the public forum, much of which far beyond 'distasteful' – much of if without a backbone of morals (and much has she stood silence and listened to her supporters yell out: such as 'kill him' about a fellow politician who happens to be of minority race) – i don't have anything left for this particular politician beyond hoping she gets off our radar screens over the next 4 years (and that though I do agree she is great for late night jokes).

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. RDK

    Did you ever wonder what kind of response there might have been if Letterman had made these comments regarding one of Obama's daughters????

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. john

    It's a joke, a poor one but last I checked one is entitled to free speech. I'm sure Dave pals around with terrorists too Sarah.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. Suzie Q

    David Letterman needs to remember that he has son
    coming up in the public eye as well. That was not a
    joke. There was nothing humorous about it! It was
    crude and rude just like Letterman.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Mike-STL

    Sexism lurks you are right, however Sarah brought this on herself.... She wink @ America, she dresses like a teen at a memorial and then she cries sexism. She should take her own advice – you know the advice she gave HRC about whining. She uses her looks for political advances.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Jackson

    Big deal people! The Sarah Paloons are a joke and trashy people. I thought it was an appropriate joke for the first "trailer park" family of Alaskah.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. Sam Sixpack

    The circumstances are clear: Letterman told a joke about a 14 year old having sex with an "old man" at a baseball game. Now he's lying about it. Period. Here is the chance for hypocrites to add pornography to their list of things to do to the children of people they don't like. This is real freakin' creepy.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. Mike Jones

    David Letterman has not class. Never did.

    June 11, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. Mom2Kate

    This woman will do anything to be in the main stream media she purports to despise. I wish she would just go away already.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. TiminDC

    Grog in Ohio writes:

    Odd how Palin wasn't quite as prompt to criticize as "inappropriate" yells from her hordes of adoring fans of "kill him" in reference to candidate Obama. I guess it matters who's ox is being gored.

    Trying researching the news/truth rather than taking the word of MSNBC or Katie Couric there Grog. That charge turned out to be a hoax drummed up by liberal bloggers. You have the tools available to you, use them.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. MollyK

    Palin, you've been in the media a million times this week, for a million different stories, that were all set up by YOU to receive media attention. Yeah, having an interview the same time as Gingrich's speech wasn't staged at all...showing up at the GOP dinner late, not staged at all....exploiting your daughter and her ex-whatever, not staged at all...You made much ado about nothing. Bad joke by Letterman, even worse whining and attention-seeking by Palin.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  15. John Riggs

    This was a good thing. I didn't know letterman was still on TV. He has always been a rude jerk. Weren't his comments similar to Don Imus comments? Woops, I forgot. We don't care if it a Republican who is the butt of jokes. Maybe this is the end of Letterman. He forgets where his humor started. He was funny 20 years ago. He is cruel. He should have Palin's husband on and make comments about her! Maybe we he got up off the floor he would regain his manners.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. dustbunny

    as far as letterman goes, he is a slimball that should be fired.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. don

    letterman has always been a LOSER!

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Mike Dallas

    Sure, the half-wit is all concerned about words when she thinks the words are directed at her family, where is her sense of humor? After all, he is just an "entertainer". What about Letterman's freedom of speech, is this an effort by the neo-cons to quiet the opposition?

    However, there is a dead guard and another family in pain today due in some part to the hate speech this woman spews about "us vs them" and stirs the lowest form of human life, the White Supremacist.

    Sad that this pathetic, waste of human plasma cannot see the correlation

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. Jake

    Letterman was being sarcastic. The fact that he dealt with this on the air is pathetic for our society. The guy is a late-night comedian. Of course some of the jokes are going to be on the edge.

    Furthermore, he was talking about the daughter that got herself "knocked up". (in his words) Not the younger one. Anyone who took his jokes to heart truly need to develop a sense of humor.

    Regardless... Kathy Griffin said everything that needed to be said about Palin last night on Letterman's show.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. Mike Wolo

    Where's the outrage???? What would the reaction be if Letterman had made that comment about one of the Obama kids instead of Palin?

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. southerncousin

    It is so interesting reading these comments, particularly those of the left wingers (the same ones who over 350 nasty responses here when Bristol Palin named her baby). I am sure they were outraged about the Don Imus remarks (where is Reverand Al on this one?) and yet in typical liberal fashion, the think this is okay and actually attack Sarah Palin and both of her daughters in these posts! If Letterman had said this about the Obama daughters (can you imagine what the attitude would be if Rush Limbaugh had said it) he would be taken off the air immediately. This is the clearest demonstration ever of the hypocrisy and lack of morality of the degenerate liberals in this country.

    June 11, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. thomas

    I suppose it could have been about Willow....I mean, isn't she just three years younger than her sister was when she got knocked up? So, give it a few years and maybe she will be preggers too.....just in time for the next election!!!!

    June 11, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. CSM

    As usual, Palin intentionally misrepresented an issue to attract attention to herself. It couldn't be more obvious that the intended target of a "knocked up" joke was the daughter who was actually knocked up and whose knocked-up status was used for political gain by her own mother.

    June 11, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. Chris Briggs

    Dave, you used to be funny, now you are just pathetic.

    June 11, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. Justin

    This woman needs to get over herself.

    June 11, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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