June 16th, 2009
10:07 PM ET
13 years ago

Maher backs Letterman in Palin joke controversy

(CNN) – After days of being criticized for an off-color joke about the daughter of Alaska's Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, late night TV talk show David Letterman got a vote of support from a fellow comedian.

Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time," called the apology that Letterman issued Monday "a real shame."

Related: Letterman apologizes to Palins over 'coarse joke'

"David Letterman should not have had to apologize," Maher told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room. "I've known David Letterman a long time."

"He's a very fundamentally decent Midwesterner. It's just not in his DNA to have said something that they're accusing him of saying," Maher added.

"It was an easy and obvious joke to make. It was funny. It was not offensive in any way," the HBO host said after detailing his take on the circumstances leading up to Letterman's controversial joke. "And they made it sound like he said something completely different. So he's apologizing for something he never meant, never thought, and never said."

Related: Palin accepts Letterman's apology

"I've been through this," Maher told Blitzer. "It stinks."

Maher's show appears on HBO, a sister network of CNN that also is owned by Time Warner.

Filed under: David Letterman • Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin • The Situation Room
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. GOPer

    I agree, Letterman owes nobody an apology. Palin needs to get a life and get back to work for the people of Alaska.

    June 17, 2009 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  2. larry

    who cares what maher thinks, he is another comic who want to be free to say anything he want. letterman was wrong, & should have apologised right away. his joke is worse than Imus' because letterman's was thought out.

    June 17, 2009 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  3. Jerry

    I have never been a big fan of Bill Maher but I have to agree with him whole heartily. It is a shame what Palin and the utra conservatives are trying to do to Dave. I was mad at Letterman for apologizing. Now that I think of it I am more upset with CBS for forcing him to do it. I am also totaly disgusted with Sarah Palin for making something out of nothing so she can hang on to her 15 minutes of fame. Take notice Republicans this witch burning will do nothing but help put an end to your rapidly decaying party.

    June 17, 2009 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  4. Sam Sixpack

    Hey, let’s all run over here and listen to this guy – he's saying what we want to hear.

    So what if Letterman jokes about statutory rape? It's not like he was joking about anybody who matters. They're republicans for Christ's sake.

    Oh, excuse me, I've got to run over there. Somebody's regurgitating something else I want to hear.

    June 17, 2009 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  5. renea

    Sounds like to me Wolf Blitzer really wanted Maher to blast the president, I sort of agree with Maher even though i dont think he should be like George Bush because he is not, He should do him as president. If he be like George Bush thats not change especially in tone. Maher is right about GWB he did exactly what he wanted to do and didnt care what nobody said or thought. I wouldnt want a president that thinks my way or the highway.

    June 17, 2009 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  6. karen

    Agree 100% Letterman rocks. It would be much much funnier to just keep the jokes about Palin personally. It makes up for missing all the old Bush jokes.

    June 17, 2009 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  7. Dem1

    Sarah Palin has NO sense of humor. She's just a bully on a power trip. Get a grip woman – you are not nearly as important as you think you are!

    June 17, 2009 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  8. Dianne

    David Letterman is not going to be fired . He has the NO1 Late night Show. He won in the ratings over Conon for last week or . He has better guest than Conon plus the Palin Fued. CBS is nott going to loose him. It will blow over soon.

    June 17, 2009 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  9. Cliff

    Maher running to the defense of Letterman?
    Maher thrives on publicity and you are helping feed his big ego.
    He is of no importance as well as anything he has to say.
    Get back to your regular reporting. You know, transgenders, etc!

    June 17, 2009 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  10. Jen

    The real apology should be because the "joke" wasn't funny. I mean, aren't the Palin mom & daughters batting 1000 for first pregnancy's being out-of-wedlock? Does Willow feel any pressure to follow her major-league fertile fornicating Mom & Sis' footsteps?

    June 17, 2009 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  11. Susann

    I watched Letterman tonight and you could tell that he was uncomfortable the whole show. I'm sure he is really upset behind what Palin has caused for him. I don't blame him for being furious with Palin; even more reason to make even more jokes about her. I've watched Letterman for years and he's the greatest night time talk show host ever and he does not deserve the protest and the back lash that he is experiencing. Palin is proving herself to be the clueless, unintelligent person that she is by grabbing for straws to fix her jacked up reputation.

    June 17, 2009 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  12. jon d

    bill maher is an idiot.. there's a reason why his show is stuck on HBO where nobody watches it.

    June 17, 2009 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  13. Stan Douglas

    The only comic I know who is a bigger jerk than David Letterman is Bill Maher. So, what good ole Bill thinks about the issue is irrelevant to me.

    Power breeds arrogance. These two hot shots, driven by their self important egos, feel that normal standards of decency do not apply to them.

    If Letterman had spoken that way about my daughter, I would have a more candid with him behind the woodshed.

    June 17, 2009 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  14. Oberon

    I completely agree with Bill Maher. David Letterman should never have been pressured to apologize. Sarah Palin paraded her underage, unwed, pregnant daughter around on national television. THAT was the disgraceful act, not Letterman's joke. I can only assume that the network pressured him to apologize. What a shame! The Palins are a pathetic family. Since none of them seems to have the good sense to shut up and go away, they're fair game.

    June 17, 2009 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  15. Geoff B.

    Bill Maher taking up for someone who makes fun of a republican. Whoa! Stop the presses and put out a special edition to cover this story!

    Let's face it. Bill Maher is about as crass as can be when it comes to poking fun at the expense of republicans but he gets very sensitive when jokes are told about his liberal wackos. The joke David Letterman told was not appropriate and an apology was issued. It's time for Maher and Sarah Palin to let it go.

    June 17, 2009 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  16. charlie

    Bill Maher's comments are not worth a headline on CNN.com. Why doesn't the press complain about this with the same venom that they did when Imus made his "out of character" joke was made. Of course this was bad judgement, but just because it was made against a white female doesn't make it any less offensive than Imus' comments. Imus was run out of town and out of a job. Letterman deserves equal treatment.

    June 17, 2009 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  17. Tiffany

    I agree with Bill Maher. If Palin can't stand to be the brunt of a few jokes then she has no business in politics.

    June 17, 2009 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  18. Rani Brooke

    Just becuase Bill Maher said that the joke was funny, doesn't mean that the joke was funny. Saying things like, "It isn't in his DNA to have said something like that..." What does he know about a person's DNA and who he is and why he said such a distasteful and rude thing. Using politically correct words describing Letterman as a " decent MiIdwesterner"tMaher implies that Midwesterners are above making mistakes such as the one Letterman himslef agrees is a mistake . Letterman at least is decent enough to apologioze for it..Just because Maher is given air time being interviewed by CNN and becuase people listen to him does not in my opinion, make his opinion on this issue right.What Letterman said was wrong. Poking fun at other people's expense and especially when it is not true is just a cheap way to be heard. Are you listening Bill Maher? You need to be more artistic , funny and creative for me to give you my respect.

    June 17, 2009 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  19. RC

    Good to see Bill Maher be an equal-opportunity critic. He's always accused of attacking only Republicans. That's never been true. I remember him taking aim at Clinton too.

    June 17, 2009 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  20. Brad

    For once I actually agree with Bill Maher on something. That joke was obviously not intended in the way Palin tried to twist it into. David Letterman should have not even acknowledged Sarah Palin's obvious attempt at keeping herself in the spotlight. He totally got played and came out of it looking weakened, which is weird because Dave Letterman is totally capable of absorbing some media punches. Especially from someone as pathetic as Sarah Palin and her nut-job supporters.

    June 17, 2009 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  21. The Rev. Eugenia Kinney

    Bill Maher seems to be seeking publicity. First he wants Obama to get off television and get to work. The same might be said of Bill Maher-at least the get to work piece. He just doesn't have facts straight on some stories. Also, I think Dave Letterman is getting tired and he did owe Palin an apology. The whole joke or jokes are awful and in case Maher doesn't know it midwestern guys can be indecent too.
    Bill Maher wants to matter but really doesn't anymore. Obama does matter and is doing a great job in a short period of time. And he knows how to use TV to his advantage.

    June 17, 2009 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  22. Chris in Iowa

    I think maybe Bill is being a little too critical of the President. Some things may be a little harder to do than seem, and he has already done so many more things than Bush did in 8 years. He has so much to clean up, and so much red tape, protocol etc. I don't know how he even knew where to start. Cut him some slack Bill!
    I couldn't agree more with him though on the fact that Letterman did not need to apologize for the Palin whack job parade your kids around like props and make a fool of yourself comment. She has her buddy Mr. Ziegler to thank for that fiasco and that is all publicity she does not need or want,. Please keep her in Alaska and out of the news as she is so not newsworthy...

    June 17, 2009 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. Daniel

    It sounds like Maher is doing a little crying with his comments. Some of these comedians need to grow a little thicker skin. You guys make the "funnies" and sometimes the jokes are really dumb so deal with it.

    June 17, 2009 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
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