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. Max

    At Jason, Yes Letterman is a pervert who married an underage girl of 48.

    June 11, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. Max

    Letterman is awesome. Palin smells. That is all.

    June 11, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  3. Sammie1eye

    Gee Johnny, I wonder if you'd think it was still hilarious if he was referring to your daughter (if you have one)? And wasn't Letterman the one who had a live-in girlfriend for years, had a kid, then finally decided to marry the mother on the spur-of-the-moment? Now who's passing judgment on whom? He's really not that funny, and this was just plain insulting. Not a fan of Palin, but anyone, especially those with children should have found this offensive.

    June 11, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. JB

    Letterman probably did cross a line and was right to apologize. However, no one has done more to exploit the Palin children than their mother.

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. pat c

    if sarah palin was not so trailor trash i would feel bad for her but considering what this trash mouth said about obama i think she is getting what she deserves here. she spouts out hate and bigitry and starts riots then gets offended if someone says something about her family. her family is a joke because she has made them a joke. bristal should stay off covers of magizines and stay home to watch her child and be a better example to the younger daughter since sarah can't seem to be a role model for either of them. sarah palin is a cancer to society and she alone started this..hate is okay for america. she has damaged america in ways that it will take years to fix.

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. dustbunny

    You people saying that Palin is just using this to stay in the limelight. You think she hasn't the right to respond to slimball letterman? What would you have done if he said that about your daughter no matter what her age. You people are just as disgusting as letterman.

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  7. Darlene

    What hypocrits the liberals are.....whether the joke was about a 14 or 18 year old is irrelevant. What if Glenn Beck had made a joke about the Obama girls .. would that have been ok? I think not...there would be a demand for his firing- lst from Al Sharpton and then Jesse Jackson but it's ok to make crude remarks about this woman's daughter – a woman who ran for Vice-President of the United States. What disrespect!. Letterman's days should be up .. but they won't be! Republicans are fair game including their underage children.

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  8. G. R.

    Who cares what Wordaman says????

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  9. Big Al

    This is representative of the sad state of moral decline here in the US. Anyone that would laugh at this or condone Letterman's remarks needs to have a long talk with themselves.

    I simply can't imagine the outcry if someone said something inappropriate about the Obama girls.

    God help us!

    June 11, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. Ed

    Fortunately , David Letterman did not refer to flight attendants as being nappy – as in "C'mon get nappy". Knappy? Gnappy?

    Does Sarah Palin looks more beautiful when she is pissed off, or is it just me?

    June 11, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Carl from MI

    Bristol Palin has done talk shows and made public appearances... this makes her a public figure and a legitimate target for talk and ridicule.

    If she wanted to avoid being talked about and being poked fun at... she never should have entered the public life!! You can't be a celebrity and not expect all that goes along with it...

    June 11, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. Tina

    CNN PLEASE, I am begging you, stop covering Sarah Palin. I know you report on her because loads of people click to read and comment on her stories but seriously...our kids are fighting 2 wars, people are losing their jobs and homes, there was a hate crime yesterday for pete's sake so Sarah Palin should not even remotely be a topic for discussion right now. Unless she has something constructive to contribute...Seriously, get over the Sarah Palin/ Limbaugh crush !!!! America is in some real trouble and we need good information not junk news.

    June 11, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. Eric

    She dragged her baby out and basically held him up like a prop right after her Convention speech. She supports killing defenseless animals who were in Alaska long before she and her oil partners were. That's worse than a half-written joke.

    June 11, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Get a Life

    Plenty of way worse things have been said about Hillary Clinton and her family and I don't recall her throwing a temper tantrum. Palin can't call someone running for president a terrorist repeatedly and then expect nothing to be said in return...

    June 11, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Brian in Bethesda

    Letterman is an arrogant jerk and quite honestly is not very funny at all. I am surprised that anyone still watches his show.

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. Brian

    It is amazing what people will justify if the person involved hold different beliefs than you. Dave Letterman should be ashamed and anyone who sticks up for poor behavior needs to rethink their position.

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. Bobby

    The rules are different for liberal saps, like Letterman. He is a dope. Maybe someone should joke about his little boy? See how that goes over.

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. pa.

    Palin drug her brood everywhere, all the time, for public comsumption instead of leaving them in school where they'd learn something... like maybe sex education.

    Anything to keep herself in the news. The woman is trash.

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. taj

    Letterman needs to let the kids go. Enough of making sick jokes of people's kids. that was borderline pedo. Plus, his guy won. So why is he still angry?

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. elliott

    More than just poor taste.....Very hateful.....I've never heard him say anything that vicious about Hillary, or Obama, or Biden.......get the picture. Liberals are scared to death of this woman and doing their collective best to destroy her. I got news for them...she's gonna be around for a while.....get used to it.

    June 11, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Ages old issues

    Waah waagh, sob, boo hoo. Evewy one ith stho mean to Sawah; boohoo!

    Pretty dumb issue.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Marilyn

    The joke was vulgar. Period. This is why I don't usually watch these late night shows. They are either tacky or just plain boring. I don't care for either.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. Linda B., Ga.

    David we still Love You in our house. The only thing you and "your" writers did wrong was to write something that would bring notice to Palin and Co. Sarah and Todd aren't much better, because they didn't monitor the comings and goings of their daughter more closely, allowing her to get preggers right under their noses. David, maybe, in the future you should monitor what your writiers give you to get a laugh a little more closely.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. steve b

    So if you are a comedian it is ok to make comments like that about an 18 year old girl but not a 14 year old girl.
    I just want to have the rules defined here.

    See how crazy that sounds?

    It is not cool attacking children of anyone, politicain, actor, whoever.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. carie

    Letterman has never been funny.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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