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UPDATE-Confused David Letterman backs down over Palin daughter jokes

June 11, 2009

Talk show host David Letterman says he was “guilty of poor taste” after causing a stir with some sexually suggestive jokes about one of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s teenage daughters, admitting he confused 18-year-old intended target Bristol Palin with her 14-year-old sister, Willow. The comedian’s 7-minute-plus discussion of the controversy during his Wednesday show can be seen on the video link below:




Todd Palin, the governor’s husband, has accused Letterman of making a joke about someone “raping” his younger daughter. Neither girl was directly named in the original joke, which also namechecked New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.

Letterman responded, “I would never, ever 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.” The comedian also invited the governor to appear on his show, but suggested she leave Todd at home.

Here’s the update. On Friday, Palin was back on the attack against Letterman. She told Matt Lauer of the “Today” show on NBC that, “You and anybody else are extremely naive to believe that very convenient excuse of David Letterman’s the other day.” By that, Palin meant Letterman’s statement that he was joking about Palin’s 18 year-old daughter, whose pregnancy was widely commented on last year, and not her 14 year-old daughter, Willow. The full video link is below:


A publicist for Letterman’s show on Friday declined to comment on Palin’s latest criticism.

Also on Friday, New York Assemblyman Brian Kolb, a Republican, sent a letter to Leslie Moonves, the president and chief executive of CBS Corp, asking him to fire Letterman over the comments. “Mr. Moonves, as a proud father and husband yourself, I ask you to consider what sort of message is sent when an employee of the corporation you lead is allowed to make such disrespectful remarks about women?” Kolb wrote.

So the controversy continues. It’s not the first time that Letterman has had to eat his words. Last year, he apologized to celebrity heiress Paris Hilton, after he badgered her in a previous appearance with questions about her time in jail.


I would have expect letterman to say more dirty things about people just to get ratings. That’s so sad when CBS needs to write junk for him to get attention. They must be a non-Christian Tv station to allow this crap. The FCC must be allowing this kind of stuff to be aired in the United States of America, soon to be overtaken by Mexicans because most of us want to move back to our homelands where we can get away from them…

Posted by McCain | Report as abusive

I with Letterman all the way, classy guy–good show! Suck it up Palins…u. want the spotlight by getting involved in politics! Too bad you guys can’t take a joke the proper way!

Posted by Cpaquette | Report as abusive

It was shocking and disturbing to hear insulting vulgar words spewing out of the mouth of Old David Letterman. It demonstrates how much respect he has for young girls, and probably boys. David Letterman is a dirty old man.There are jails full of perverts that think the same thoughts that he does and have committed sexual crimes against little girls and boys, The only difference between the inmates and David Letterman is that they have been caught, and Dave has not. Mr. Letterman is laying out the end of his career and beginning for his demise, like a fast spreading cancer, it is coming soon.His obsession and ruminating hatred towards the Palins is not only infantile, but psychotic as well.In psychology we identify a man with relentless aggression and sexual insults against women as suffering from something similar to Freudian “Penis Envy” that affects men in the same way but the envy is for a female sex organ.Interestingly enough, hormones like Progesterone when used with men, and testosterone for women have been known to change the aggressive behavior.But, my diagnosis for Mr. Letterman is late onset geriatric bipolar disease that precedes Alzheimer’s.

Posted by Dr. Fulano deTahl | Report as abusive

This issue sadly reminds me of the Al Campanis Nightline fiasco years ago. The truth came out about the man’s bigotry. Same for Don IMUS and now David Letterman.As a father of a young girl, I hurt for Todd Palin, and I definitely could see why Letterman would not want to face him on the show. Letterman’s true colors keep coming out. Letterman is through and CBS could score big points with the fathers out there if they canned Letterman. We can do without perverts on TV. If they fail to act, it will only hurt CBS and they should then apologize to Don IMUS.

Posted by Single Dad | Report as abusive

There was no talk of raping you mental patients. The joke was about getting knocked up-as in pregnant NOT rape. Part of the joke was baseball reference-knock it out of the park?Seeing as BRISTOL has been knocked up rumored to be more than once. She has also been IN THE NEWS and a spokesperson for “abstinence only Candies slutwear campaign”. A questionable company whose clothing/shoe line tarts up preteens with their pre-hooker wear. I also think both girls look a lot alike so if you looked at them there could be that mixup.Only someone with a low IQ and high witch factor would claim that it was about the younger girl. Bristol and Sarah need to be a BIG girls and take the heat or get back in the sled or go home and make some moose chili. You put yourself out there as “family values” then trot them all out onstage as you sideshow. Abstinence Only? LMAO!The Palin’s are white trash. Publicity hungry white trash. McCain unleashed this power hungry witch on the lower 48 and he should be ashamed.Do comedians make bad jokes-of course. Does Palin make a big damned deal about everything-OMG YES! It keeps her name in the news.Keep making stupid drama’s over everything Palin-it will make your run for any higher office that much more of a joke.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Are you kidding me? Letterman FURTHER exploited the comments!! There was NO apology in his comments it just made the comments worse. You are WAY off to write this article in this context.TELL THE TRUTH.


Proper ethics and Palin? Omg! What a laughable comment.Palin who gave us:troupergateclothesgatetravelgateperdi emgateand let people in her own state starve during this last winter. Oh, opps my bad! She brought cookies in a Photo-op with a Christian group and told the villagers that they should look for jobs out of their communities.Palin-dumber than a rock!

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

this is about keeping the Palin name in the lower 48.Palin is dumb but not stupid. She learned to get her image out to the media well. Funny! For a journalism major to have issue with the press on a constant basis means she didn’t learn much. Making her dumb not stupid.Dumb is someone who cannot learn-stupid means you don’t try.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Mr. Letterman: I have watched your program over the years and I am very disappointed in your choice in jokes concerning young women. I can assume that your are in a society that thinks that all things are up for “grabs” as far as jokes are concerned.To some of us of “your” generation, that is not acceptable. I will continue to be concerned when you jokes are over the line. Today we are careful of jokes concerning ethnic groups, I agree with that, but some things seem to be open for anything! Fat people, public figures, etc. . So be it. But the children of these people SHOULD be off limits!Someday it may be your child and you will then possibly understand, perhaps not! You are of an age where in 10 to 15 years you possibly will not be around to defend your child when this may come up. Your insensitivity is so out of place in any society.

Posted by Nancy Bowlin | Report as abusive

I don’t see what the problem is. Everyone everywhere says what they want about who they want in exercise of this free speech thing and just because Gov. Palin and her family happen to be publicly the butt of one of I’m sure hundreds jokes poked at politicians each day David Letterman is now some womanizing rape advocate? I say just take it for what it is, a joke, laugh, and go on with your life. Gov. Palin doesn’t have anything else to do these days? I’m certain we’ve all been referred to as worse in jokes by people that matter much more to us than a distant talk show host and I don’t see any of us alerting the press of our emotional duress.I’m just saying be human about the whole thing. Her kids are no more special than anyone’s and if I made that joke about some librarian’s or teacher’s kid I don’t think she’d get airtime let alone a spot in the paper to draw lines between an edgy joke and social travesty.


I am a conservative, but I have enjoyed watching Dave over the years, even if he is Left leaning. As an entertainer he has been ok, but lately (last 3-4 years) he has progressively gotten much more “Political” in his jokes and after this latest one with the Palin Family, I am done with David. I like entertainement as much as the next guy, but I am tired of teh hollywood types assuming they can give their political hack BS as entertainment. I now completely understand why Jay Leno was chossen over his sorry misguidedAS#. Too bad for you Dave. Way to go out on a high note…YOUR DONE! Can you now leave the stage as gracefully as Jay…for your own sake…

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

John McCain “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno”….i guess that was amusing to him when she was a teen but he seems offended now at a top ten list?. So Letterman’s jokes were offensive…as if others haven’t made equally or more offensive comments..they just weren’t recorded. He made a joke about her daughter getting “knocked up”…well she was “knocked up” and unmarried…that isn’t offensive to people but mere words are?.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

David Letterman needs to go. He is a disgusting old man with an agenda to hurt people in a vulgar way, this is not comedy.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

oh please,you guys are making a big deal over nothing he was talking about the 18 year old daughter unless the 14 year old got pregnant too… anyway its just a freaking joke an he’s just making fun of the 18 year old for her poor choices she made, I don’t see why her mother would get mad an try to make it seem like it was the youngest daughter, when its clearly understandable he is talking about the one who just had a baby an is of legal age… its a joke he didn’t mean anything by it,get over it!!!!!

Posted by tiffany | Report as abusive

I knew when Dave made the joke, that it would be an issue. The joke was a groaner, but the furor that Ms. Palin, her husband, Fox News etc. have churned up is starting to look like overkill. No one who is able to think critically believes the exaggerated charge that Letterman talked about raping the Palin’s younger daughter. Sure, the Palin’s are probably tired of being the butt of jokes and that’s understandable, but their reaction seems intent on making more of the situation than actually exists and I don’t really think it will ever stop the jokes. They’re just too ripe for the picking. I’m going to keep on watching David Letterman because he’s a very funny comedian. I thought it was good that he stood up and took responsibility for the joke he really told and admitted to the world that it was in poor taste. We all know that his writers probably gave him that joke but he didn’t throw them under the bus. So he gets points from me for being a stand up guy and taking all of the heat and I’m going to keep on watching him.

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

Used to be a Letterman fan, but this Palin thing makes me dislike him. No more Late Show for me!

Posted by Loren Scheel | Report as abusive

A racial epithet about ‘nappy-headed ho’s’ or joking about the rape of a 14-year old girl? Seems equally bad. If the standard is equally applied to Dave Letterman as it was to Don Imus, Dave should lose his job.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

The problem with David Letterman is that he is no longer funny………he is just an old cynic……..boring….time to move on….. he is certainly not worth $5.0 million per year.

Posted by J. Lowden | Report as abusive

This so-called joke of David Letterman was disgusting. He was totally out of line to make these comments about any female, much less a 14 year old girl. I am glad that the National Organization for Women has denounced his comments. It is ridiculous to think that these girls are fair game because their mother is a public figure. It is also unreasonable to say that it just Governor Palin’s attempt to “keep her name in the lower 48.” She and her family were the target of a vicious attack, and she has the right to defend her family. Letterman owes the Palins a sincere apology, not just a snarky attempt at drawing more laughs.

Posted by Sandra Robinson | Report as abusive

Letterman should resign…and advertisers boycotted.

Posted by Hutto | Report as abusive

Letterman never said anything about raping anyone.That is the OVER reaction of the Palin’s.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Palin is toxic. She cannot stop mouthing off to the public about anything. Even her own interviews she lies or harps about how “wronged” she is even when she pick the interviewer.The “attack” that wasn’t. Mountains out of molehills, much ado about nothing. That is all she is is a national joke.Her mother knows full well they were talking about her party daughter Bristol and that the two sisters look like sisters. Bristol is the one who was “knocked up” and paraded for her mother’s campaign complete with the “fiance” in tow. Funny how that ended after mummy lost? Makes ya go HMMMM?Bristol is a 18 yr old going out there and preaching her mothers “abstinence only” stance when it clearly didn’t work for her or her mother. If she is gonna take a public stand then she better be able to take the heat.It was a bad tacky joke that is what most comedians have at times.Get over it!

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Oh and for those who don’t think she is keeping her name in the news in the lower 48? I call BS! She knows that recognition is half the battle won. So any BS trumped up “drama” is gonna keep her name in the lower 48.In Alaska, they wonder were the heck she is. GINO-governor in name only-because she is missing half the time.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

How many years, is it going to take CBS to realize he’s not “Johnny”! What a waste, Late Nite has been and will continue to be known, as a show featuring a dork, poor communicator, poor comedian, awful one liners. He’s a narcissus, with a, “I’m a spoiled brat” attitude. He may connect with a few people, but he certainly does not have the attention of the masses. I grew up watching Johnny, never missed a show, I’ve seen Letterman’s late show, maybe five times over the years and every time I think when is this Dork going away!. Please, it’s time for someone new!!!!!.


What is the big deal?After all, Bill Maher laughed quite loudly and clearly about little girls that are raped by their own fathers and got applause for it: 9/03/bill-mahers-sad-anniversary.html


Wow. Maybe, Palin should apologize to women first. No one has ever made women look so foolish in history. I know women are very capable but Palin does not make a good case for them.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

June 12th, 20096:33 pm GMTWhat is the big deal?After all, Bill Maher laughed quite loudly and clearly about little girls that are raped by their own fathers and got applause for it: 9/0 3/bill-mahers-sad-anniversary.html- Posted by MarianoPurity balls-another stupid way for parents to put their heads in the sand and think a ring will stop their girls from having sex.Teenagers are walking emotional hormones.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

What an old unfunny waste of time…..Wonder when or if someone will make “jokes” regarding his son. Good-bye mean person.

Posted by tpurnell | Report as abusive

Letterman’s hatred toward anything ‘conservative’ is well known—the first 15 minutes of his show is a political commercial sucking up to democrats–he has NEVER told a joke the least bit offensive to Obama, yet every night rakes Palin over the coals–Letterman used to be pretty funny—I suggest everyone switch to the cooking channel for late evening entertainment.**David Letterman–a late night guy who used to have a good show

Posted by Mike Paden | Report as abusive

Letterman should apologize to Palin for insulting women as soon as Palin apologizes to the entire country for insulting our intelligence.

Posted by jebuff | Report as abusive

The sponsors should demand that CBS publicly apologize and then fire David Letterman for his arrogant disregard for women. Until I hear a “sincere apology”, I will not watch the David Letterman show nor will I patronize the sponsors.

Posted by Melinda | Report as abusive

Just a funny joke ? Well lets ask this question…what would be the reaction of the American people if he made this same joke concerning one of Obama’s daughters ? All know he’d never go there with that type of joke but towards demeaning a family he thinks is politically correct and fun to do so he’ll do it. And sorry Letterman I don’t buy your lame statements later by saying words to the effect that yes it probably was over the top….probably? Why don’t you just step up to the plate and show some absolute sinerity and say you definately and uneqivically blew it BIG TIME…no such acknowledgement from you…spare America then your attempt to backtrack without clear acknowledging what you did was wrong.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Les Moovves needs to apply the same rules to Letterman that he did to Imus. That means Letterman needs to appologize all over the place and then get fired.

Posted by margaret berger | Report as abusive

Some of these comments posted reflect a failed public educational system and the failure to develop critical thinking skills. None of this is or should be about politics. To think otherwise is an indication of shallow partisan stupidity. It is this mentality that enables despots to encroach on our liberties, regardless of which political party. So enough already and grow up.The real issue here is whether a person on the media should be permitted to slander, degrade and abuse women and children for personal gain, without censure. As a single dad who is raising a young daughter, I found MR Letterman and Columbia Broadcasting to be benighted and profligate. As a business, they need to be bankrupted. Their FCC license revoked and Mr Letterman personally sued for slander and defamation of character. Additionally, he promotes violence against women, especially children and should be liable under current law for promoting hate crimes. He should be held liable for all future child rape cases.His boss is aware and should act quickly to avoid complicity.

Posted by single dad | Report as abusive

Even in the apology, Mr. Letterman made jokes. This was and is not a joking matter. IF his apology had been sincere there would not have been underlying humor. this is not a joking matter. Many could say the same things, he has said about the Palin girls, about REGINIA. I’m sure others have thought about his life style. When you live in a glass house, you shouldn’t throw rocks.

Posted by wanda watson | Report as abusive

Gov. Palin needs to remember some of the “crap” she has said during the presendential election. This is the same woman who used her special needs son as a shield to “cover up” her daughter’s pregnancy. Grow up!

Posted by Carletta Nichols | Report as abusive

How is David Letterman’s comment different than Imus’ comments about girl’s basketball team? Shouldn’t David Letterman also be fired? Yes!!!!

Posted by Jo D | Report as abusive

It looks like Artie Lange is following in Letterman’s foot steps. He just made a joke on the Howard Stern show comparing Tom Cruise’s wife and adolescent daughter to a mother & daughter prostitute team from the Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas!

Posted by Justin Tyme | Report as abusive

CBS should fire Letterman and hire Palin. Their ratings would fly off the wall. Would be the best move they could ever make.Letterman is old and washed up…but Palin is new and exciting.I can’t wait to see The Sarah Palin Late Show…Wasn’t she great on Saturday Night Live? Highest rating they ever got was when she made a guest appearance.Go Sarah Go…

Posted by lj | Report as abusive

David Letterman, and like so many others in this country sicken me. What the far left exposes is to believe what I say, not as I do. And this affect hurts others who are moral and trustworthy, and degrades their own values. The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is he give himself to a principal. Words, money, all others is relatively simple to give away, but when a man makes a daily sacrifice of himself, it is evident that the truth, or lack of it, has taken possession of himself. David Letterman has shown his true colors by choosing to attack the Palin Family values, while engaging in his sexual misconduct and betrayal against his own family. What a slime ball you are!!!! I hope you are forced off the airwaves forever!!!

Posted by Bill Kuffler | Report as abusive

How does feel now David? What goes around, comes around.

Posted by Marcia Shaheen | Report as abusive

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