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Aging man, 62, jokes about girl, 14 (Letterman on Willow Palin) update

Sarah Palin and Family

(UPDATE: This item has been updated below.)

Maybe it's just the tempting ratings window of no longer going up against NBC's Juggernaut Jay and being the also-ran of late-night television.

But CBS' David Letterman told a real howler on nationwide TV Monday night that drew gasps from some parents and now a scathing rebuttal from the nation's most famous pitbull hockey mom -- and dad.

Noting that Alaska's Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and her daughter attended a New David Letterman in 2008York Yankees game over the weekend with famous Yankee fan Rudy Giuliani, Letterman said:

One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.

Letterman, until recently an unwed father, has often made his disdain clear for the former GOP VP nominee, who had several damaging interviews with CBS during the general election campaign last September.

But this is the first time in memory he's taken on the teenage daughter of the governor, on the left in the above photo.

In a statement to Fox News, Palin called the comments "inappropriate" and "sexually perverted" and ones Letterman would not "dare make" about anyone else's daughter.

The governor added:

"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."

Willow's father, Todd, added his thoughts:

Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too.

So far, the "Late Show" has declined comment -- or even another joke.

5:06 p.m.Pacific Taping tonight's program in New York, Letterman made for him a lengthy explanation or clarification, though no apology. He said that his "joke" Monday about Palin's (unnamed) daughter getting "knocked up" by a professional baseball player was aimed at Palin's daughter, Bristol, who is 18, not Willow, who is 14 and attended the baseball game. "I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex with a 14-year-old girl...Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes."

(He then invited Palin on his program. Which might really help Letterman's ratings, at least that night, against his new late-night competition, Conan O'Brien. Oh, come to think of it: That's where Palin should really go for a celebrated chat -- over to NBC. Not that ratings revenge would ever cross the mind of the governor, a former TV reporter.)

: 7:05 p.m. Pacific "The Late Show" just e-mailed The Ticket a longer set of excerpts from tonight's program, which we are publishing below in their entirety.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Office of the Alaska Governor; CBS (2008)

Excerpts from "The Late Show with David Letterman" June 10, 2009:

“We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news and we made some jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter, the 18-year-old girl, who is – her name is Bristol, that’s right, and so, then, now they’re upset with me…”

“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. I mean, look at my record. It has never happened. I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it was funny. I wouldn’t put it in a joke…”

“…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 – I’d love to have you on the show. It’d be exciting…”

“All right, so there, I hope I’ve cleared part of this up. 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.”

Comments () | Archives (214)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sarah made her daughter and her out of wedlock pregnancy part of her political persona. Sure it's a cheap shot, but Sarah Palin is the one who put her daughter and her daughter's sexuality in the spotlight.

(You've got the wrong daughter in mind. Even then, what about the hypocrisy of Dave's own out-of-wedlock child?)

Whenever I eat Gummi Worms I only eat the red ones. But when the red ones are gone all that is left are green ones. That's when I get mad.

I feel that this might just reinforce my desire to avoid watching Letterman, or anything on CBS for that matter. I think Letterman might have missed Dan Rather's gaffe that got him fired.

Does anyone remember how ferociously the Clintons guarded their daugther? Unlike the Palins, they made it clear she was off limits. If the Palin are going to parade her kids on stage in front of the world, making them public figures, then they need to accept that they'll be subject to jokes, even off-color ones. As far as I'm concerned, they all got what they deserved, and maybe the Palin's will now buy a clue and realize if THEY want to protect their kids, they will keep them out of site in Alaska---and leave us alone.

Pompous recluse talks big and nasty when the lights are on, and when off, is choppered to his CT Mansion, far removed from anyone resembling a human being...same thing at the MT ranch---hiding out, never appearing anywhere, not even for charity events. How about we make jokes about his Mom in Indiana, or little Harry? Or that "thing" called Lasko he finally married. Set up a whole Site dedicated to off color Letterman jokes. He was kind of funny and relevant once---now he's just old, dirty, bitter, and cruel--and still a Recluse. He's been a recluse long before the kidnapping attempt and stalking. Long before that---freaking Tears of A Clown is all he is. If he took some shots at Obama and Biden and their kids I guess it would be balanced out...but it isnt...his show is no longer humor..he's got Lenny Bruce disease now--thinking we all want to be enlightened with his wisdom instead of humor...just how Lenny became.

Peggy, try to pay attention. The little mommy teenager is on the right and is 18. The 14 year old is on the left. The story is about the 14 year old. So hurry up and find a way to degrade the 14 year old I'm sure she deserves it.

David Letterman is a disgrace to all males. He is not funny except for his childish potty humor. I hope he always stays out of Indiana.

If he had joked that Obama's wife looks manly, Letterman would be off air tomorrow. he may even be investigated by the secret service.

it's a sick double standard. Say Obama's wife isn't the beauty everyone makes her out to be and you're an outcast. Make sexual jokes about an underaged republican's daughter and you're hilarious.

these are the morals of our society today. We're really taking a step forward with the liberals in office. A step into a seeping pool of poo.

David Letterman is a predator!

Poor man is a sad indenty and needs help.... I feel sorry for him. Keep him in your prayers....

Does anybody still watched this old hasbeen? He hasn't been fun for years and now he is only wierd. Someone should tell him he isn't a college kid anymore and some things are still considered perverse.
Hey, Letterman, poor attempt to be cutting edge!

There is no excuse for what Letterman said: Republican or democrat, it was sick, below bad taste and he ought to apologize on TV with the same prominence he used in making what he is pleased to call a "joke." No one with Letterman's stature slammed Chelsea Clinton that way. (PS: I remember now why I preferred Leno)


The only difference between the Clintons' and the Palins' desires to protect their kids from the media is the media's willingness to accede to the Clintons but not the Palins.

Chelsea was on the platform at every convention and every inauguration. That was never sufficient to make her a public figure. As a nearly 30 year old woman the press still demurs to Chelsea's privacy.

The press went insane when SNL and John McCain made jokes that Chelsea was just ugly. Imagine what they would have done if someone on the political right had suggested Chelsea should be raped.

"As far as I'm concerned, they all got what they deserved, and maybe the Palin's will now buy a clue and realize if THEY want to protect their kids, they will keep them out of site in Alaska---and leave us alone."

Lefties are cool with perverts. They have the pervert vote locked up. Taking a 14-year-old to a baseball game is now considered provocative behavior, sort of like wearing clothes that invite rapists. Eyeswideopen, there is a country for you. It's Iran.

So, EyesWideOpen, the Obama daughters are fair game also?

Eyes Wide Open,

Check it out sport, Chelsea was present at many campaign events during the Clinton's presidential campaigns. She was not integral part of the campaign just like Willow was not an integral part of Palin's campaign. Any lowlife who feels that attacking kids is OK because they appeared with their parent is begging for bad attention. You need to get a grip on your hatred towards Palin. Your message is that it is fine to say crappy things about Palin's kids because 1) they appeared with her during the campaign 2) You can't stand her and want her to leave you alone. If deranged lefties want to trash children to make themselves feel superior then prepare for the blowback.

I voted for Obama and criticized Rush Limbaugh for mocking the looks of a teenage Chelsea Clinton. There's NO EXCUSE for Letterman. (Rush didn't apologize for over a decade btw)

EyesWideOpen, It wouldn't have mattered if Sarah Palin had asked the press to leave her kids alone in order to keep them out of the spotlight. As you may recall the media descended on Alaska like flying monkeys the second Palin was announced as McCain's VP pick in order to dig up any and all dirt they could find on the woman and her family. Because she is a pro-life Republican her children are fair game to the ruling class hypocrites whose howling would be heard far and wide on every nightly news broadcast and front page story if this kind of sick joke had been made about one of their own.

"If the Palin are going to parade her kids on stage in front of the world, making them public figures, then they need to accept that they'll be subject to jokes, even off-color ones. "

Wow, that's liberal logic for you...if your 14-year-old daughter dares to appear on stage with you then an aging TV hack can make rape jokes about her! Does the same thing apply to Obama's daughters who also appeared with him and were featured in a TV your liberal mind does this make them fair game for rape jokes ?

Okay, it's fine to show disgust about this or not, but do it honestly:
First, it's not clear that the joke is about her 14 yr. old daughter, he just states that she went to the game with her daughter.
Second, it's not a rape joke.
Third, it's actually an Alex Rodriguez joke.

The blame lies with the"Tiffany Network". They pay this guy. He represents the values of CBS and the people that watch - like our first poster here, Peggy.

Apparently if you show up in public with your children, you give permission for them to publicly degraded.

The following comment is so vicious it deserves a full rebuttal:

"Does anyone remember how ferociously the Clintons guarded their daugther? Unlike the Palins, they made it clear she was off limits. If the Palin are going to parade her kids on stage in front of the world, making them public figures, then they need to accept that they'll be subject to jokes, even off-color ones. As far as I'm concerned, they all got what they deserved, and maybe the Palin's will now buy a clue and realize if THEY want to protect their kids, they will keep them out of site in Alaska---and leave us alone."

A few points:

* So, by taking their daughter to a ball game, the Palins have failed to keep her out of limits? Is the sight of Willow Palin so irresistible that vicious leftists cannot resist but attempt to degrade her?

* In other words, it's the Palin's fault, for taking their daughters in public!

* One last point: how are the Palins not 'leaving you alone'? They went to a Yankee game. They are not intruding in your life by going to a public venue and attempting to enjoy a ball game.

I could go on, but my point is made.

So for those of you that are apologists of Dave, would it be kosher to make a joke about Sasha holding hands with a pedophile... yea, thought not.

Sarah Palin did not make her oldest daughter's pregnancy part of the campaign. You are disingenuous Ms. Pendleton. The Palin girls participated as much in the campaign as Chelsea Clinton, the Obama girls, etc. The dehumanization of the Palins by leftists continues. Leftists are synonymous with hypocrites in my book.

I was a big fan of David Letterman but now he is past his prime. Letterman acts desperate trying to get back what he once had. I rarely watch him anymore as he is up against Steve Colbert. I doubt I will watch such low class again; hopefully I will catch the occasional moment he says something funny.

Palin's children were not paraded any more than Obama's, other than the mainstream media's sick fascination with the out-of-wedlock pregnancy of one of them. Yes, I understand how the left believes this was a relevant issue per Palin's opposition to abortion and promotion of abstinence, just as much as the left recognizes the recurring racist and sexist statements of Sodomayor are grounds for serious investigation of her relationship with La Raza and other problematic associations.

That said, Palin's children were exposed by the media, not "shown off" any more than the Obama's children. In fact, we can't seem to go through a grocery line without seeing Michelle and the kids on the front page of a magazine.

What this has shown us is that the left is not a group of individuals based on principle. They are based on opposition to those with specific principled positions. Had Rush Limbaugh joked about Chelsie Clinton being raped, he'd be waterboarded, banned by the FCC and placed in the sexual offender registry. For David Letterman to do so, it's acceptable. So what if we promote violence against young girls and trivialize rape? Rape against the right's little girls is sexy and cool. Racism against white males is retribution. Election intimidation and violence against the right is awesome.

Understand left that when you dismantle the rules, we too will play without them. And unlike you, we don't wet our pants and run away from full contact sport.

Dave was WAAAYYY out of line with his comment. If he made that comment about my daughter, I'd punch him in his filthy mouth.

EyesWideOpen . . . she took her kid to a ball game. Why don't get a clue and stop being a douche.

>>>So far, the "Late Show" has declined comment -- or even another joke.<<<

Oh, if only that were true.

As it happens, the very next day Letterman came up with yet another one about Willow Palin, associating her with Eliot Spitzer's hookers.

Classy guy, that Letterman. May he go down in history as the undisputed king of underage-sexual-predation comedy.

"If he had joked that Obama's wife looks manly, Letterman would be off air tomorrow. he may even be investigated by the secret service."

So that explains why the pundits who said offensive things about Michelle Obama and her appearance are still working.

Some older men, think that sharing the mechanics of their morning burp or top 10 fantasia in public, in the locker room, as quips muttered into the breeze, in the headlines, in supreme court decision, on commerials, graphically or stripped of cohesive narrative, is, uhh, aaahh, ahem, a means to a better end. Actually since intellectually honesty is gaining momentum again, it marks the candidate for rapid drive-by decline, or so one might deduce from current events if one is not too caudally overridden to intake information.

Dave's a slug. His defenders are imbeciles.

Peggy, I don't recall Sarah Palin putting her daughter's sexuality in the spotlight. I thought it was our crappy pro-Obama media that was doing that.

And Sarah has every right to let her kids be present at her campaign events then, and to take them out in public now. None of that makes them "open game" for pundits and pathetic comedians to say inappropriate things about.

We get it Peggy, you and many others on the left think that conservatives/republicans/etc are less than human, so you can justify treating them with less respect than they actually deserve. But have a good look in the mirror and if you can honestly evaluate yourself, you'll see that you're an angry, hate-filled, self-righteous, and intolerant person...

What we see is you just projecting your ugly traits onto those who you criticize.

Wow I guess if you are conservative your family is fair game.

What would be the reaction if Rush made a joke about Malia getting knocked up?

The left has no shame or class.

"Sarah made her daughter and her out of wedlock pregnancy part of her political persona. Sure it's a cheap shot, but Sarah Palin is the one who put her daughter and her daughter's sexuality in the spotlight."

Peggy, try really hard to understand this. Willow is 14 years old. She went to a baseball game with her mother. Her "sexuality," whatever you're implying with that comment, is not fair game for a has-been comedian. Generally, in polite society, we don't condone the rape of girls, Do you think you can remember that?

Am I the only one who's noticed that the only people who made this about 14-year old Willow are the Palins themselves? It's pretty obvious from the context that Letterman's making his joke about 19-year old Bristol, not Willow. The Palins just decided to conclude that he was actually attacking Willow, because it would make their outrage look a little more legitimate, instead of ridiculously contrived. This column has fallen right for it. Letterman MADE NO MENTION OF WILLOW WHATSOEVER. The only people who involved her are the Palins--much like they were the first to make Bristol's pregnancy public during the campaign.

What is with the nonsense I hear that Sarah Palin "parade[s] her kids on stage in front of the world, making them public figures"? When have they done that? Where? At the Republican convention? How is Palin's children appearing with her and her husband *any* different than any other politician's family appearing at public events? It does not make *children* fair game for perverted jokes! If the same joke had been told by a Republican comedian about Obama's daughters, the Democrats would be *shrieking* in outrage - and justifiably so. I cannot believe *any* woman, or man for that matter, would defend Letterman's crass and disgusting joke.

Not news...
This isn't an attack on the daughter; it's an attack on the hypocracy of judgemental GOP candidates who take up the mantle of morality during campaigns, but fall down when it comes to their own lives and families. (That is, they have problems, just like the rest of us.) An example would be when FOX "news" blows up the issue of underage sex to hit Letterman, an Obama supporter, but fails to mention Palin's failure to supervise her daughter or prevent underage sex in her own family.

Peggy, in addition to what Scott pointed out about your not even gettig the right daughter, I have to take issue with your claim that Sarah Palin made her pregnant daughter part of her political persona. That is absoulte nonsense. She elected not to hide an inconvenient fact that the opposition and the press corps (same thing if you ask me), who were looking for any dirt or scandal they could find would discover the situation very quickly and would have made accusations of cover-up.

And EyesWideOpen, apparently they weren't (your eyes). Chelsea Clinton was paraded out on stage too, but she was off limits for criticism and jokes, perverted or otherwise.

David Letterman is a bitter old pervert and Todd Palin would be completely justified in busting his nose. If Letterman made a comment like that about one of my daughters, I know I would be sorely tempted to do just that.

Umm...I saw a clip of said joke on two different (right-leaning) websites. I never heard the name "Willow". I presumed that he was referring to the daughter who has already delivered a baby.
Are you folks just making a mountain out of a mole hill? Panties in a knot? Insert demeaning metaphor here:

Now what would happen if Letterman were to run into Todd Palin? Or A-Rod? Lots of tears and pleading from Dave would be my guess. What a small man he's become.

My goodness, EyesWideOpen, you are a very hostile human being. "They got what they deserved?" Since when does anyone in this country at age 14 deserve to have sexual jokes made about them, not once, but twice by a 62 year old man?

Who deserves that, ever? Tell me what Willow Palin ever did to you or to Letterman to warrant that? I'll wait as long as it takes.

Are you honestly saying that the family of a politician deserves the kind of ugly humor Letterman spewed? Really?

As for leaving you alone, did you even know she was in New York, and at a Yankee's game prior to Letterman's remarks? How were they bothering you, no, scratch that. How were they bothering you enough to excuse sexual jokes about an adolescent girl on a national broadcast? Don't waste your typing skills because nothing excuses that.

Remember, Letterman didn't joke that she wasn't attractive, or was stupid, or was Christian, or Republican, or from Alaska, or was [fill in the blank], he joked twice about her SEXUALITY. First with that idiotic joke about keeping her away from Eliot Spitzer, and then with the remarks about A-Rod.

What kind of hate must be flowing through him, or you for that matter, to make or condone jokes of that nature about a 14-year old kid?

My word, Joseph Welch must have been thinking about you and Dave the dolt, not Senator McCarthy.

Every time I think I can't get more disgusted by the things people say, the more I'm proven wrong.

Lettermen is sickening. Several years back Rush made a uncalled for, mean joke about Chelsea Clinton. Later a caller told him maybe he should tell his mother the comment he made. If Letterman's mom is still around maybe he should call her tonight and tell her he made several jokes about a 14 year being raped, wonder if Mom would think that was funny.

Sarah sold her daughters out for her own personal gain (or lack thereof). It is more head in the sand to act shocked that a 14 year old is not having sex or would not. Go Dave.


Yeah, you righties run away from any responsibility when doctors are murdered by anti-abortion Taliban and guards by anti-Semites, but a comedian makes a joke about sex and you guys throw a fit. BALD FACED HYPOCRITES.....

What ever happened to the women's movement?

Let's say Gov. Palin did parade her kids (even though I disagree with that assumption). Does that mean it's OK to make gross sexual jokes about a 14-year-old? I expect to see Patricia Ireland and other feminists protesting outside Letterman's house soon.

I once was a huge fan, but I quit watching Letterman a long time ago. He is a bitter, angry person. I don't understand why since he has led such a fortunate life.

I don't see the word "rape" having been used in the joke. Nor does it seem that Mr. Letterman indicated that the daughter in question was indeed the 14 year-old.

The sad part is that Dave is telling Sarah Palin jokes when she's yesterday's news. And she'll never be president. NEVER. And the republicans lost.

Ha ha ha ha. That never gets old.

Making excuses for Letterman's rape joke is the same as making the joke yourself.


The lefties made a big deal about Palin's daughter.

You are so full of it.

who said that joke was directed at palin's younger daughter? I thought it was directed to her 18 year old unwed, pregnant teen daughter.

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A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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