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. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    This what happen when you put your family on national TV. Poor taste yes. Alaska governor Palin daughter did have sex.

    June 11, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. ABC123

    Dave, why no jokes about liberal politician's kids? I think they rerouted the wrong bod parts hwen you had your heart attack.

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Robert Morris

    Wow Dave,
    Could you be anymore of a lowlife jerk?

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. J.Crobuzon

    It was a joke about A-Rod, not Palin. It's part of a running joke about Madonna and A-Rod. Nobody except Palin mentioned rape, or knew there was more than one daughter. Letterman would love to have Palin on the show, believe me; she'd find out what a real pit bull or barracuda is like.

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Rochelle

    Also, an insincere apology after the backlash means nothing. I'm not saying that this is a huge issue or anything; it's just that apologies in this day and age mean nothing.

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. Bassman

    We were told Gov. Palin was unethical. Now all the complaints are being dismissed. Then we were told she only seeks the " spotlight". But she has never done Oprah, The View, or any of the late night comedy show. When will those that attack Sarah learn, she always proves them wrong? The last attack about her being incompetent will be the last to fall. I can't wait.

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. John S.

    Sarah Palin will take all the publicity she can get.....she'll never get enough....get a life!
    Letterman is a great guy and he may have lost some viewers as others claim but my family will continue to watch.

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. Larry

    Palin is an attention loving idiot ...

    She does not deserve the time of day ...

    I truly can not believe Anyone takes this moron seriously ...

    Period ...

    June 11, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. Tom

    Obama's family is off limits as I would expect. The Bush twins, Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter never got that respect. Now we have these so called comedians constantly dis-respecting the Palin family. This has to end. Sexual jokes about these girls is unacceptable. Why aren't the liberal feminists up in arms over these vile jokes?

    June 11, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Pete

    To translate what RB said:

    In the eyes of RB "being civil" means "don't ever ever ever make fun of Republicans".

    Palin needs to get the hell over herself. She makes Nixon look like Deepak Chopra in comparison.

    June 11, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Katrina

    I have to say that I rarely find most of the late night comedians in good taste. That being said, by putting yourself in the public eye, you are opening yourself up to attack (Comedic or otherwise). Palin was aware of this when she stepped into that light and gave them plenty of ammunition to work with.

    I highly doubt he meant the younger Palin child as that would be crossing a major line, but regardless, the joke was inappropriate. He apologized and Palin will find another reason to make her way into our newspapers. Life continues as normal.

    June 11, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. dave is a pervert

    Everyone attacking Palin, a mother defending her daughter (either one) is a stronzo..

    June 11, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Russell

    Letterman should NOT have apologized. Palin accused Obama of palling around with terrorists, for God's sake! She deserves nothing but scorn...better yet, let's just ignore her. If the woman were an average looking 45 year old governor, we would pay her no mind at all. And that includes McCain and his vetters in August 2008!

    June 11, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Phil in NE

    Letterman’s joke was in very poor taste. He did apologize and wether its accepted is another matter.

    I find it ironic that when Imus made his joke several years ago about the all black female basketball team he got fired. Believe me, if Letterman made the same joke about Obama’s wife or Clinton’s wife, he would have been fired that night.

    Liberal individuals are so two-faced on these matters. They instead tell Palin to “go away”. I hope America wakes up and realizes that the Liberals in Washington don’t care about anyone but themselves. Its been almost six months since they took office and before long they will be turning on each other, they always do. I just hope they haven’t destroyed this country or taken most of our rights away before then.

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Dave's Lost His Mind

    Letterman has gone over the edge. Whether the joke was about a 14-year old or an 18-year old is irrelevant. It was an unfunny and tasteless joke and he should apologize.

    I guess conservatives aren't worthy of respect anymore. Shameful.

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Rick D

    Sara Palin has more class in her littel finger than Dave has period. Thank God I go to bed early.

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. Hey BIG Spender

    Hey, Johnny- hop back on that horse you road in on. Jokes like that are inappropriate whatever the age. What if it was your daughter?

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. James, Brooklyn NY

    What is Shara going to say when Willow is pregnant before she is out of high school.

    Why do we keep hearing about the run on queen anyway. She make republicans look stupid every time she speaks.

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Harold

    Don't like Letterman, don't watch; Over the line joke, probably; that is what comedians do; Dave show is not just comedy it covers a wide range of topics and whether one wants to admit it, Dave is fairly bright and has quick wit;
    you don't go out every night and have a banging show; if the Palins are upset, go on the show, express your displeasure and lets see if they can hold an unscripted conversation;
    they better bring it with Dave

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Vikram

    This is height of indecency. Look at the comments. There are people actually supporting letterman on this one. He has acted like a sexual pervert. He should be reprimanded by CBS. There should not be any place in a civil society for such ludicrous and highly insensitive comments.

    June 11, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. some chick

    Cant have it both ways Sarah....you keep yourself AND your kids
    in the media and it aint all gonna be pretty.
    She can sure dish it out, but no sense of humor when it comes back
    on her.

    Stay home and keep your family out of the media if you dont like it.

    June 11, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. SueB

    It's sad that people support his vile jokes just because he was talking about a Palin. Several years ago a comedian implied that Chelsea, an adult at the time, was ugly. The outrage and backlash from the media and viewers was swift and unrelenting. A talk show host was dragged through the mud and fired for making a sexually related comment about a college basketball team, again all adults on the team. Now, a comedian clearly states a young girl, whether the 14 yr old in attendance or the 18 yr old back in AK, was raped by a Yankee player during a game and it's OK.

    June 11, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Domenic from Montreal

    Hey Sarah, if you can't take the heat get out of the puplic eye. Stay home in Alaska and don't come back to NY or any other state for that matter. People and really tired of your stupid remarks and ways of scoring sympathy votes. Go home and stay home!

    June 11, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. gary h.

    That Palin joke wasn't just "poor taste", David Letterman, it was just plain mean, nasty and hatefull!
    former Letterman watcher

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. Phil

    Letterman is the joke. Stop guttersniping at kids.

    June 11, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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