June 15th, 2009
08:54 PM ET
11 years ago

David Letterman apologizes to Palins over 'coarse joke'

Late night TV talk show host David Letterman apologized to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the second time after a recent joke by Letterman stirred controversy.

Late night TV talk show host David Letterman apologized to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the second time after a recent joke by Letterman stirred controversy.

NEW YORK (CNN) - David Letterman delivered another, more repentant apology for the off-color joke he made last week about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter.

"It was kind of a coarse joke. There's no getting around it," Letterman said in the opening monologue of Monday night's show.

Letterman, who joked last Tuesday that Palin's "daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez" at a recent Yankees game, still insisted he was referring to Palin's 18-year-old, Bristol, who gave birth to a boy in December, and not her 14-year-old, Willow.

Related video: Letterman's joke was 'perverted,' says Palin

Palin has called that a "weak, convenient excuse" for a joke that was"inappropriate" no matter which daughter was the target.

"My 14-year-old was there with me at the game. She was the only one there with me," Palin said.

Letterman said Monday night that he now realizes, "It doesn't make any difference what my intent was, it's the perception."

"As they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it's not a very good joke," he said. "I take full blame for that."

"I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed," he said.

"So, I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke," Letterman said. "I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future.

The controversy comes at a time the late-night ratings battle between the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS and NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" is in the spotlight.

Letterman has gained ground in the two weeks since O'Brien took over hosting duties from Jay Leno.

Filed under: David Letterman • Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. suzi

    So now will she go away. she milked that joke for all it was worth & then some.

    June 15, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  2. Bob S

    He should still be fired. If it took him this long to realize how terrible his joke was about young women, then he is a very sick man who has no place on tv. This wasn't about comedy, it was an attack on a conservative candidate and her family. This is too little too late. I for one will never watch him again. Disgusting.

    June 15, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  3. Linda from Minnesota

    I'm not a Palin fan, think she has air between her ears but this time I have to agree with her. Kids are off limits.

    June 15, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown

    So John McCain gave us the gift that keeps on giving...Sarah Palin. Thanks John!

    June 15, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  5. E. Bates

    He didn't mean it...he's just afraid he'll get fired like Imus did. Well, what goes around comes around...Letterman's done.

    June 15, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. fred

    So it's all about who wins?? If anything this just adds to the freak show that is the Palin political existence...

    June 15, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. cramit

    Dose it mater the age of the child , and the party of tolerance backs letterman??????????????????????????????????? Wrong is wrong .
    Spin this

    June 15, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Kentucky

    Letterman should apologize. There is no reason to attack kids. Say what you want about the politicians, but keep the kids out of it!

    June 15, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. Tristan

    What is this, Iran? Why would a comedian apologize for a joke?

    June 15, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. politically uncorrect

    Lame move by CBS execs to force Letterman to issue an apology.
    Lame move by all media to continue to cover the queen of Pork.
    Palin will never go away as long as the media keeps covering her.

    June 15, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  11. ss

    Now will she go away!!!!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. Connie

    Palin may have 'won' her apology.......

    David Letterman shows us he has class, which is something the Palin clan has yet to display.

    June 15, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  13. JaneB3

    Interesting/amusing apology from Dave. I doubt Palin gets it. LOL

    June 15, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  14. Cecelia

    OK, get over yourself Palin. Geez! it was a joke, and you even misinterpret it. You definitely need to spend some time in more comedy clubs. Don't the "great" state of Alaska have them? I am so sick and tired of people telling others what to watch and listen. Get over yourself, "no one is into YOU, except Todd. Ohmygosh, was that comment inappropriate? Should I apologize? Heck no!!

    June 15, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. BJean

    An apology may have been made. But I will never watch David Letterman's show again. This joke was uncalled for due to the fact that Willow was only 14 years of age. Then you have to look at the other side of this joke. The only way I see it is that Letterman has no respect for Alan Rodriguez to say such a thing about him.

    June 15, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. Barbara

    On with the Show Dave! I've watched you forever and had no plans to change.

    June 15, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. makesUwonder

    WOW, if I can believe what CNN is reporting, I will have to say that I have gained some respect for Mr. Letterman.

    June 15, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  18. Sylvia

    Good for him and good for her....now lets keep in mind THE KIDS ARE OFF LIMITS on both sides!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. malclave

    Too little, too late. Is anybody really stupid enough to believe he's actually sorry? If what he's saying now was the truth, he would not have made the Spitzer joke the next night, or presented the excuses he did the next (retelling the jokes, by the way, this time completely aware of their context).

    Don Imus lost his job over less, and his apologes were sincere.

    Letterman needs to go.

    June 15, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  20. K P

    I thank that C B S have more controle what letterman whay dont you paologize to palin as well this need to stop.

    June 15, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  21. Linda B., Ga.

    David, you are a cool guy and it's nice that you apologized, but, I don't think it was necessary. Gov. Palin was just looking for publicity......

    June 15, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. David

    Dave, you don't need to apologize to anybody. You rock, man! People (and Palin).... IT WAS A JOKE!

    June 15, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  23. Ren from Baltimore

    Thank you, David. Well done. I trust the Governor will accept the heartfelf apology.

    June 15, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  24. VGal

    Please – can she ever STOP talking about anything that is ONLY important to her and the gossip columns?

    June 15, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Jane

    I also think the Gov should apologize to America for making a bigger deal out of this than it ever should have been and another 5 days of reminding America that she's really not National office material. I wonder if she realizes this has further cost her respect points.

    Congrats Gov – I think you actually lose.

    June 15, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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