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Ratings for the Letterman-Palin week are funnier than his sordid joke

June 22, 2009 |  6:00 am

So didja hear the one about the late-night TV host who walks out on stage and tells his national audience a joke about the statutory rape of a famous person's 14-year-old daughter?

And when even Americans go, oh, ouch, that's in bad taste, the host says c'mon, he thought he was joking about the rape of an 18-year-old girl, which the 62-year-old show biz guy apparently thinks is funnier.

And lotsa people get upset and say angry things about the host and his network -- we'll call it CBS -- and then they tune in the next night and the host only sort of acknowledges the controversy, which makes people even angrier.

And other people say it's no big deal but they all tune in anyway for further developments. And the furor grows and some start organizing a boycott of advertisers.

And, finally, after a week of heat including from gee-do-you-think his bosses, the host issues what sounds to most like a genuine on-air apology, which the child's mother readily accepts as she said she would the second day. And the world still goes around.

But then the TV audience ratings come out and guess what? They're shockers! The old guy got a brief boost all right during the controversy. In fact, he drew larger audiences for three of the week's five nights.

But over at another network -- we'll call it NBC -- his competition, a young new guy who'd only been on the job for 10 shows, still won the entire week.

More Americans chose to watch this tall new guy who never mentioned the stink than the grumpy old one who started it. According to Nielsen Media Research, the new host also won among key demographic groups too, like 18 to 34 year olds and 18 to 49. 

Hilarious.

That's a good one all right.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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