Comedian David Letterman has come under fire for making an in-poor-taste joke about the daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. It was a highly-inappropriate joke that was in reference to the Palin daughter who had the baby. Of course, conservatives tried to spin it to say he was talking about her younger 14-year-old daughter, but I am not willing to go so far as to say that was his reference. It does help the Palins and the right demonize Letterman a little more by portraying it that way, but that is not the reality of the situation that Letterman put himself in.
“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 says on tonight’s show. “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.” Saying he hopes he’s “cleared part of this up,” Letterman extended an invitation to Palin to come on the show as a guest.
First of all, he was not talking about the 14-year-old. Any rational person without an agenda knows he was talking about the older daughter. I’m not saying it’s appropriate either way, but we should be intellectually honest about his intent – whether or not the joke was appropriate.
Now, clearly it wasn’t the strongest apology conservatives hoped for. Instead, Letterman chose to clear the air about the intent of his joke. His apology, of course, was not strong enough for conservatives. For once, conservatives might be right (although he did admit to being “guilty of poor taste” in his response. Letterman should have issued a stronger apology instead of what seemed more like a clarification.
Here was Sarah Palin’s statement that Letterman referenced:
In an e-mailed statement, the Republican governor said: “Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/N.Y. entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands — that 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.”
I was going to put Todd Palin’s response, but he made some puzzling and gratuitous reference about “Alaskans” that seemed to have no value.
Noticed how Sarah Palin played upon Letterman’s age and then latched onto the age of her younger daughter? That was not by accident. She tried to play up the angle of older men exploiting young girls (that too was inappropriate). She had the moral high ground and sort of blew it by trying to play some kind of pedophile card against Letterman.
Still, Letterman made an inappropriate joke and it’s good he at least recognized the out-of-bounds nature of the joke.