Thursday, June 11, 2009

Letterman Appologizes To Palin - Sort Of

David Letterman offered something resembling an apology for jokes he made earlier this week about Sarah Palin and one of her teenage daughters. The "Late Show" host made his statements on his show, letting the controversy add to his current ratings boost. Letterman joked on Monday's show that Palin's daughter "was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." The joke appeared to be referring to Palin's 18-year-old daughter Bristol. In his apology, Letterman said he was referring to Bristol, not her 14-year-old sister Willow, who had been at the Yankees game. Indeed, Bristol Palin has been the subject of countless jokes by comedians who have referred to her status as a single mother who has paradoxically come out in the media as a spokesperson for safe sex. So, while Letterman denied that he would ever make a joke about sex with a 14-year-old girl, he seemed to be saying that jokes about an 18-year-old are OK. Letterman acknowledged he was guilty of poor taste, but interspersed jokes along with his apology. Responding to Sarah Palin's comments that charged Letterman with "sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity," Letterman deadpanned "I am not a celebrity. I'm 62 years old, but I'm not a celebrity." In addition to his near-apology, Letterman invited Palin to be a guest on his show. "Governor Palin, if you're watching, I would like you to consider coming to New York City - you and Todd as my guests - or leave Todd at home," he said, tossing in a little humor with his apology. Sarah Palin's spokesperson 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." Now that's a pretty funny response right there, keeping up with the comedy theme. On his MSNBC show yesterday, Keith Olbermann, who also happens to be a David Letterman fan and has appeared as a guest on his show, weighed in. "In political humor, does anything go?" he asked. "Are John McCain age jokes OK, but "Barack the Magic Negro" songs not?" He referred to sexual jokes going back to when Clinton was president. "Is the outside of the envelope the nightly, endlessly sexual jokes?" Wanda Sykes got flack for her jokes at the White House Correspondent's Dinner in May. About Rush Limbaugh, she joked: "You want Obama to fail? I hope your kidneys fail." She went on to skewer both Republicans and Democrats alike, but the Republicans were the ones complaining, and Sykes was the lucky recipient of their scorn. She has signed with Fox to host her own talk show. It's fair to say that comedians have a little more latitude in being able to bring up controversial subjects by nature of their job description. But this is an age where gender specific remarks and racial slurs are dangerous territory, even for comedians. We are protected by the First Amendment, but David Letterman works for a major corporation, CBS, and he has to follow their rules. You'd think they would intervene. For example, Radio Host Don Imus was fired a few years ago for using a racial slur on the air. Evidently, with Letterman's ratings on the rise, CBS is happy with the controversy. And Craig Crawford, an MSNBC analyst, said on Keith Olbermann's show that he doubted that Sarah Palin was really offended by Letterman's remarks. "I mean, I think she was probably secretly thrilled to be in the 'Top 10' of Letterman," Crawford said. "She has definitely sought political advantage here." If you ask me, it's a win-win situation for Palin and Letterman. Letterman's ratings are up, and Sarah Palin is back in the news, which is where she wants to be.


  1. Whew! You really can't make this stuff up, can you?

  2. David Letterman's apology should have been a little more serious. On the other hand, it's just a comedy show, so Palin should lighten up. As you say, he's just keeping the story in the news.