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16th June
2009
written by Sean Noble

I have been a long time fan of David Letterman. Back in the day when he was doing the late, late show and wearing tennis shoes with his suit.  I remember being outraged that NBC picked Leno over Letterman. Letterman represented a younger, more hip audience (or so I liked to think of myself as hip at the time, and yes, I was very wrong about how hip I was. It’s amazing how a hick from Show Low can even begin to think that he is hip in any way, shape or form.)

Now, I missed the early part of the ongoing saga between Letterman and Sarah Palin stemming from a rather crude joke that Letterman told about Palin’s daughter and a baseball player.  Needless to say, Palin reacted, Letterman reacted to the reaction (clumsily), more reaction from Palin, Letterman reacts again, etc.

It culminated in Letterman getting to a real apology excerpted here (video of apology here):

“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “- thank you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. 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. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)

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15 Comments

  1. Mark Wrighton
    16/06/2009

    Letterman likely ONLY apologized because the advertisers got heat and then leaned on the network…when faced with the inevitable drop in ad revenue, it’s time to go out and make a sincere mea culpa and end the stunt…as it is, it sounds like he’s only sorry for getting called on it…

    His first “apology” was not only was “clumsy” but also couched in terms to get MORE laughs and to draw out the situation as long as possible to raise ratings and milk it for all it was worth…it should have been caught in the writers’ meeting; that it either did not or was allowed to be used any way says MUCH about the writers and the so-called “comedian” leading the show…

    Time to crawl back into the poor ratings shadows, Dave (at least until you can figure out another ratings stunt)…next time, try to make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of someone else…

  2. Shanna
    16/06/2009

    As a Mom, I won’t forget what he said and I have plenty of DVDs to watch in lieu of late night TV. A co-worker made a comment about my daughter “being sexy” when she was three, I remember how I felt at that moment and how it changed our work relationship after. I can only imagine the rage the Palins felt.

  3. Woody
    16/06/2009

    You would think one of the dozens of networks we have now would target conservatives with a sense of humor. I think there are at least three or four of us out here.

  4. Woody
    16/06/2009

    By the way, I turned the TV off right after Letterman’s joke that night. That was it. Never gonna watch him again unless its reruns of stupid pet tricks or the velcro suit.

  5. Frankie
    16/06/2009

    goodness gracious people. while I agree that the perception of his joke by some was bad, but come on. it was NOT about statutory rape. the only people who said rape were todd and sarah palin. to be honest, sarah palin has no right to get upset when people make jokes about her 18 year old daughter who got pregnant. as soon as they had her travel the nation to do as she says and not as she does and put her on the cover of people magazine, she is fair game. you guys need to lighten up and learn how to take a joke.

  6. toby
    16/06/2009

    Yo Frankie, while I agree that actual statutory rape and a joke about statutory rape are two different things, make no mistake, a joke about a grown man knocking up a 14 year girl is by definition about statutory rape.

    Your arguement that the joke is not about statutory rape because Letterman didn’t actually use the word “rape” in his delivery, is beyond lame.Nice try though….

    So let me get this straight, talking about actual things that Michelle Obama has said and done are off limits, but talking about a ficticious sexual encounter of Sarah Palin’s 14 year old daughter and a grown man is fair game in your mind?

    Dude,I doubt even you are convinced by your lame argument!

    LOL!

    It is funny how ill-conceived your arguments truly are!

    LOL!

    Thanks for the laugh Frankie though. After Lettermans failed attept I think we could all use a good laugh!

    LOL!

  7. Jacqueline O'Connor
    16/06/2009

    I’m just amazed that Letterman, at his age and supposed sophistication, told the joke at all. It was low class, mean and should have set off alarms in his head before he read (and re-read how many times). I think Palin got it right: dirty old man.

  8. Frankie
    18/06/2009

    his joke wasn’t about a 14 year old girl. it was about bristol palin. you decided to interpret it as being about a 14 year old girl. who’s the real sick one?

  9. Gary C.
    18/06/2009

    Frankie,
    The joke was about Sarah Palin’s daughter with her at a ball game. The only daughter with her was her 14 year old daughter.

  10. toby
    18/06/2009

    Good one Frankie!

    Did you read that on inside of a beer bottle?

    I am going to go out on a limb here and take a wild guess that in addition to believing Letterman’s non-sensical explaination of his pathetic joke, that you also still believe in obama’s joke that”95% of Americans under HIS plan will get a tax break”

    Frankie, when you say that Palin’s daughter is “Fair Game” because she was un the cover of People Magazine, don’t you really mean that Palin’s young daughters are “fair game” because you don’t like what their mother says and believes?

    Your level of tolerance of thought and speech is remarkable! Your momma must be proud of your attitudes and respect towards women in particular!

    Oh and please spare us with the lame “shut up” come-back you have used so well in the past.

    I love how predictable Frankie is when he encounters someone who doesn’t think like him.

    He very “Progressively” tells them to “Shut up!”

    LOL!

    Now that’s Funny! (Yet also sad) but mostly just funny.

  11. Frankie
    19/06/2009

    Sarah Palin’s complaints about the media and comedians with regard to their treatment of Bristol rings completely hollow.

    I do NOT say that “Palin’s daughter is “fair game” because you don’t like what their mother says and believes?”

    I DO say it because she and Bristol put herself out there as a public person. She was on the campaign trail, on stage with her ex-fiance at the RNC, on a speaking tour about abstinence, and was paid to be on the cover of a popular magazine. That makes her a public person and fair game. Just like McCain’s daughter. NOT like the Obama’s children, McCain’s son, Palin’s son, etc.

    If you want your children to be left alone by the media and by comedians, then you cannot also put them out there in public, making appearances, doing interviews, and all of that other stuff. That is a double standard, not the other way around.

    I think that his joke was crude, but it was a joke. He meant it about Bristol, though in hindsight he should have realized that she wasn’t at the ball game.

    His joke is no worse than Palin’s joke that, “It would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.” Implying that he is a pedophile and might rape her. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that one.

  12. toby
    19/06/2009

    Frankie, you are seriously starting to creep me out dude!

    Sarah Palin is a politician, but she is also a mother. Your contempt of her has obviously caused you to dehumanize her in your mind in order to make such ridiculous arguements regarding this ordeal.

    I find it shameful that you so pathetically dismiss Palin’s right to complain about a sexual cheap shot taken at her 14 year old daughter, while so gullibly believing Letterman’s obvious deceitful re-telling of the joke to conveniently claim that the joke was about the slightly older teenage daughter who happens to be technically “fair game” in your mind, WHO WASN’T EVEN THERE!

    I think the creepiest aspect of your stance on this situation is that your arguement rings so familiar.

    Your arguement is the same arguement that the stereotypical bad cop from a backwards town gives in a crummy B-movie from the 70’s.

    Ya know, the one where the young and attractive girl with short shorts goes jogging in the park and then gets raped by some pig who couldn’t control himself.

    And then the moronic cop while questioning the innocent victim licks his lips and says “Well, what did you expect was gonna happen when you go struttin’ yer stuff in them tight tight clothes the way you do fer the whole town to lookie-loo at ya?”

    No wonder you consider the Palin daughters “fair game.”

    Who’s the creep now Frankie?

  13. Gary C.
    19/06/2009

    I remember an article from several years ago about David Letterman and the making of his show. One thing that they emphasized was that he plans every joke, every detail, of the show so that he knows exactly what he wants to say and what to expect. He knew exactly what he was doing.

  14. Matty
    20/06/2009

    All you people, as well as myself, are pathetic for spending way too much time arguing about this. The bottom line is this: IT WAS A JOKE! Grow a sense of humor! You all must be wearing constricting undergarments. Lighten up, and get a life. BTW I knocked up your teenage daughter while you were out last night.

  15. toby
    21/06/2009

    Matty,
    Thanks for helping me illustrate my point.

    See Frankie, Matty just cracked a joke about statutory rape and he makes no bones about. No lame apologies and twisting of facts to excuse himself. Matty says what he means and he says it MEAN! And I can dig that.

    Yeah, I get it, Letterman cracked a joke. It just wasn’t a good one. Absolute morons laugh at jokes that lame because they are thrilled that they finally don’t need to rewind their Tivo in order to get it!

    Growing a sense of humor in order to appreciate lame jokes is like asking someone to grow some taste-buds in order to enjoy a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

    BTW Frankie, you have no right to be offended by Matty’s joke about your daughter because I’m pretty sure you consider her “fair game”, right?

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