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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.


Another thing — that Letterman audience should be ashammed of themselves for laughing at the comment. It wasn’t funny – and I sure do hope that some, at least, walked out of the studio.

Posted by Mrs. H | Report as abusive

Someone Wake Up Sumner Redstone!!!

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

If the Palins were african-american, Dave would be fired right now.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

I am sure Sara never tells a “bad” moose hunting joke either!

Posted by Ryan Heart | Report as abusive

Politics aside, Mr. Letterman is a schmuck. The remarks about a 14 year old girl were bad enough. His inability to offer a simple mea culpa was inexcusable.By the way, the remarks would be equally bad if it had been the 18 year old sister. This is just another sad commentary on our society.

Posted by Andrew Ingram | Report as abusive

David Letterman is a nasty vile old man. For these remarks, he should be fired. What about the Imus remarks… double standard?? Get him off the air..he isn’t even the least bit funny. I would never ever watch him again!!

Posted by Carolyn Talarico | Report as abusive

I use t really enjoy watching David Letterman’s show, but recently David has really started to show his political views through his show. I like to watch entertainers who want to entertain, but stop watching when they start trying to sway the public who watch them into their views. I think what he said about Sarah Palin and her daughter was incredible rude and not funny! I think that the American people need to take a stand against this kind of ridiculous and crude poking at people just because entertainers hate a persons views. I will never watch David Letterman’s show again. I don’t think what he had to say was funny and I think he said it because he is trying to sway the American people to find fault with this family for his own political gain! So as Americans lets all stand up against this type of cruelty. We are Americans with our own values and beliefs and don’t not need Hollywood or anyone else telling us who to vote for! Entertain us that’s all we want from you! Take a stand against David Letterman, stop watching his show and supporting his views! Lets show Hollywood that we are not going to take this anymore!

Posted by Robin | Report as abusive

So tell me this Dave, how would you feel if someone talked about beating your son or wife with an ugly stick. Attacking kids is wrong! Shame on you!

Posted by Cindy | Report as abusive

Letterman and the people in the audience who laughed at his vulgar comments should be ashamed of themselves.Children of politicians should be off limits by comedians.Perhaps it is time for Letterman to step aside from the “Late Night Show.”Since his heart surgery, it is obvious that there is not much oxygen getting to his brain..

Posted by Joannie | Report as abusive

How sad that Mr. Letterman would make fun of anyones daughter. I don’t care if shes 14, 16, or 18 its very sad that he can’t find anything else to joke about. Wow I know that if he made a comment like that about my daughter–I would not be as gracious as the Palins. Shame on you Mr. Letterman. I pray that know one ever does this to your son.

Posted by Lori | Report as abusive

Great example of a hate speech, No Bullroar. Mr. Letterman’s jokes are cheap-shots, no matter to whom they are directed.

Posted by JJ | Report as abusive

David Letterman’s show is awful. His jokes are rarely good. Its time for him to be replaced by someone younger, energetic, smart, witty, and by one WHO DOES NOT make awful jokes about 14 year old girls and yet thinks he is being funny. There is nothing funny in being disgusting. I dont approve of Palin or Bristol nor am I a Republican. But a daughter is a daughter…. of Republican parents or otherwise.

Posted by Amelia | Report as abusive

It’s pretty obvious Letterman direceted his joke at the ‘knocked-up’ Palin’s Daughter (i.e. Bristol)Bristol Palin has gone to every other talk show discussing her love/sex life.Now they are accusing Letterman of wanting to have a 14 year old rape.Bad taste? he admitted it? Criminal? Come on!Just shows how stupid America can be

Posted by Winston Churchill | Report as abusive

How woul you feel if someone made a sexual jokes about your son,girlfriend or your mom?

Posted by rick | Report as abusive

Imagine if some talk show host made a joke about Bill Clinton doing something unspeakeable to the Obama girls if he were to visit the White House? Or a three-way with the the first lady, and the president? It’s the same goddamn thing! This is the second time the Pailin’s have been attacked. There was that tastless skit on SNL insinuating incest between Todd Pailin and one of his daughters!Enough!And, hey Bullroar? Go hang yourself in a closet, you verminous pile of excrement!

Posted by Nomore | Report as abusive

I wrote this to the Chairman of CBS and encourage others to keep our TV “out of the gutter.” June 11, 2009Sumner Redstone, ChairmanCBS Television51 W. 52nd St.New York, NY 10019Phone: 212-258-6000or: 212-975-4321Fax: 212-975-4516 Email:audsvcs@cbs.comDear CBS Chairman Redstone:David Letterman’s comment about the sexual abuse of a young girl is not humor. He and CBS should immediately and sincerely apologize to the nation and to the Palin family. His so called “apology” was more salt in the wound.It is unconscionable to think you and the CBS network approves of Letterman’s comments to the point that you will not let it go unpunished.I watched the clips and he knew which daughter was in town. It was Willow and she is 14. He is trying to weasel out of this one by claiming he thought it was Bristol (18 YRS). The “joke” was, if one daughter got “knocked-up”, then why not the next. It was certainly what I understood it to be. He is so crass; I can’t believe you put up with him. I rarely watch the show anymore. Reruns of “Lucy” are more entertaining, even if I have seen all the episodes several times.President Obama’s mother got “knocked-up” at age 17 and was unwed, so did Bristol Palin. How come Letterman never used Mama Obama as the butt of his jokes? By the way, the expression “knocked-up” implies fault and stupidity on the female’s part with no similar derogatory or responsibility factor on the male’s part. IT IS TIME TO RETIRE THIS PHRASE.It’s about time for networks to be “Big Boys (and Girls)” and behave in a mature responsible way. Letterman was not funny. They are ugly, vicious diatribes he tries to pass off as jokes. Ask his Mother if she thinks they were funny.He thought he could get away with making crude, sexist slurs against Palin and her daughter. He must get this impression from his bosses at CBS. It is not acceptable when directed towards any females for that matter. Imus was fired for making similar remarks! Sexist slander and double standards have no place in the media. Time for Letterman to go, and send the rest of the ultra liberal hateful slugs with him. “Jokes” that are meant to be hateful and hurtful are just hateful and hurtful. They are not funny. Please stop hiding behind the “joke screen”.I don’t think CBS can afford to lose more ratings, you already are at the bottom of the pile. (Oh, come on, laugh it’s just a JOKE!!)Sincerely,J.R. Spano

Posted by J R Spano | Report as abusive

Dave says that his jokes were in bad taste … but he doesn’t seem to be able to apologize for his bad taste. Neither does CBS.Dave can be funny but more often than not, he can be very mean … almost passive aggressive. Dave needs to grow up. He has a wife & child now … it’s time to leave junior high.

Posted by Ellie | Report as abusive

Oh for God’s sake, find something real to get upset about. He’s a late night talk show host and a comedian. And Palin and her entire family are a huge joke. Seems like a perfect fit to me.

Posted by Sonia | Report as abusive

Comment to No Bullroar: Surely with the type of comments and hatred you just spewed, you’re not lumping yourself into the “decent” people category.

Posted by King | Report as abusive

response to JT’s would-be moralizing of Ryan HeartNext time you or your husband tell a dirty joke be sure to moralistically fire yourself!re: strutt her kids in publicIs a figure of speech that fits well to her right wing egotistic moralist swagger, she is not well balanced and I am so glad she was not elected. So is all Europe!Thanks

Posted by Ryan Heart | Report as abusive

Letterman used to be funny before he turned mean.


Oh, puhleeze…all you folks who believe Letterman when he said he really meant the 18 year old (like that makes it okay…riiiight…) are as full of it as he is. The joke was about the Palin daughter AT THE BASEBALL GAME. That daughter was the 14 year old. Duh. Letterman knows it, you know it, and I know it.

Posted by Nora H. | Report as abusive

Letterman’s a PIG, always has been always will be…So is Bullroar! OMG! How crazy are you?!

Posted by Debbieinpaso | Report as abusive

Finally some on the left are sheding their hypocrisy and realizing just how hideous this non joke really was. Letterman’s behavior was putrid. There should be no sponsor who should not believe than their products will not now be identified with child rape and molestation. Mars M & M, Lexus, Olive Garden, Downey, Best Western, Hellman’s et al should really take pause on whether their names should continue to be associated with such harrassment. And believe me this is harrassment. If one of their employees uttered that sick ‘joke’ at the workplace their own policies would necessitate disciplinary action. No different. Mr. Letterman represents them. No own in their right mind can defend such behavior whatsoever in any way. CBS should publically apologize and then terminate Mr. Letterman’s contract.

Posted by rob | Report as abusive

Letterman should have his ass kicked for this one. I saw both Monday and Tuesday nights show and I was absolutely appauled.Letterman, you are a freaking idiot and are now banned in my householdAgain, you need a good old fashioned asswhoopin. Freak!

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

Dave letterman is obviously mentally ill or slipping into senility. His comments regarding Sarah Palin’s family are disgusting. We used to always watch letterman….and switched to Leno when letterman got nasty mouth. He is never entertaining, and just shows to go he has no talent, if he must resort to belittling people. I would not wish ill on his son, but…Dave has some bad karma in the future…And…his wife is no prize, either. I think he really has the hots for Sarah Palin. Never watching Letterman again..waiting for Leno. The term “boob tube” now applies to late night t.v.Total turn off…CBS should be ashamed of themselves.Yuk. what a sicko


There is such a double standard here. No one has ever gone after Chelsea Clinton or the Obama girls. Politician’s children should be off limits. But the Bush girls were scrutinized as well as the Palin children. David Letterman needs to back off. Sarah Palin is a class act compared to this disgusting piece of trash. He does not respect the family unit and has finally married the mother of his child after all of this time. If anyone is to be laughed at and demeaned, it would be him. He is so “not funny” that he would sell his soul for a laugh. I quit watching him years ago because he is frankly boring.

Posted by Renata | Report as abusive



David Letterman’s comments about Gov. Palin and her daughter were totally disgusting. When Chelsea Clinton was a teenager Saturday Night Live did a show about how homely she was. A loud outroar started that it was unfair and unkind to speak about a child in this way. Anyone who made an unkind comment about Barack’s girls would be crucified. But to make a joke about rape of a daughter of a Republican is viewed as OK by the weird Democrats. No matter if Letterman meant the 18 year old or not. His comments are unjustifiable. He should be fired. What he said is much worse than what Don Imus said and Imus was removed from his show. Good by Letterman.

Posted by Eleanor Ruskey | Report as abusive

Dave clearly thought he was referring to Bristol Palin. Isn’t it obvious? The Palins are way out of line to suggest that Letterman supports the rape of a fourteen-year-old girl. He may be guilty of poor taste and mistaken identity but not for promoting child felony rape or pedophilia. The real crime is to be found in the perverted logic of the accusation and the misplaced postures of righteous indignation. Go after the real rapists and pedophiles, not the late-night comedian, David Letterman.

Posted by Chris Shinn | Report as abusive

Letterman would never have made a joke about the Obama girls and Bill Clinton, since he would be out of job.What a double standard.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

I can’t even image if what the Media liberals would do if a comedian attacked Clinton’s and Obama’s daughers. Same old double standard. It seems that the liberals keep trying to “pick” on Sarah.Actually, it seems Letterman has issues with attractive women with brains. Maybe he hold resentment and bitterness to the “pretty” girls that never paid any attention to him. I have know banned watching his show! TIme to grow up and pick on adults not children.

Posted by MT | Report as abusive

David hates conservitives so bad you can almost feel the hate coming through the tv. What a moron! He is digging his celeb statous grave!!!!


Palin seems to be very sanctimonious now concerning teenage sexual activity, but how protective was she when Bristol Palin was having sex as an underage minor? I remember when Sarah Palin was advocating abstinence-only education during her 2006 governors race, but just how well did that prove to be sound logic considering the birth of her grandson Tripp Johnston by her underage daughter?Sarah Palin also went one step further in her hypocrisy in that she used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program in Alaska benefiting teen mothers who were in need of a place to live.She cut the funding for the Covenant House Alaska program by over one million dollars. The lesson learned there is not every unwed teen Mother has the financial support from a parent who is governor of a state.So David letterman made a joke concerning her daughter, get over it,Palin did everything to set herself up for the jokes.It is the past hypocrisy of Palin that Letterman is targeting and Palin knows it,it has NOTHING to do with Letterman promoting teenage promiscuity with any adult or any person. This is just another opportunity for Sarah Palin to look like the poor victim and wear her victimhood crown with relish.Is the jokes distasteful, sure they are, however Palin is taking the jokes out of context to create the controversy and attention she so desperately desires and feeds off of. I didn’t like the nature of the jokes myself but to take them out of context is in itself untruthful and self aggrandizing.

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

Is David Letterman so desperate for his rating and telling this cruel “joke” about Palin’s daughter?

Posted by mayberry | Report as abusive

Mr. Letterman: I used to find you mildly amusing, now I just find you disgusting. Your not even funny any more. You are entitled to your opinion but you are NOT entitled to make jokes at the expense of children, no matter what their age. Dottie

Posted by dottie curvin | Report as abusive

I think that you David are a PIG. As a father I think you are a poor example of what a parent should be. I just hope that your kid is perfect if not watch out because you started the war so he will now be fair game for other to makr fun of.

Posted by tina | Report as abusive

No one sucks like you Dave…I hope Sarah’s husband physically beats the mess out of you… Fortunately no one watches your show or your company.Retire already… and take your entire liberal generation of old farts with you…


Letterman, you have offended everyone with your insensitive comments you don’t deserve to have public access. As a father, i would never consider allowing your vitriol to my family. You can be confident that I will never waste my time with any of your broadcasts

Posted by drbob | Report as abusive

David:The Palin daughter joke was very unappropriae. I’m surprised you would use that joke.


It is absolutely ludicrous to use the excuse that the jokes were actually intended toward Sarah Palin’s OLDER daughter — all of 18 years old, that is. The whole drama over young Bristol’s pregnancy centered around her young age, so even if she is “of age,” does that excuse the crudeness?Stand-up comedians have made careers of political jokes for generations, but this sort of crassness isn’t funny. It’s just a mean-spirited liberal celebrity having, as he called it, a cheap laugh at the expense of an innocent girl in an effort to paint Ms. Palin and her family in as bad a light as possible.And his inability to muster up a proper apology is even more evidence of his disgusting arrogance.C’mon Mr. Letterman, if that’s the best you can do to get a laugh, maybe it’s time for you to move on.

Posted by Lori | Report as abusive

David letterman is shameful… he seemed to lost his proper ethics to get his ratings… I wish people will stop watching his show to teach him a lesson… advitisers must pull out their support from this show… David, you are really disgusting!!!! you can say all excuses but its just not acceptable…

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

it was a regrettable joke, but if the palins don’t want them involved in the media, they should not have paraded their kids across the national stage.they’re now trying to spin this for their own political advantage.

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

Pathetic Dave!


Sarah Palin uses her children as a political prop to promote “family values”. She should keep her children out of the political limelight. forcing her poor daughter to marry to save political face was the wrong thing to do.David Letterman always has a feud going on with the celebrity elite: Cher, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Sarah Palin. Good for ratings.

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive

Since I make it a point not to watch david letterman. I didn’t get to see or hear his obnoxious remark about Sarah Palen and her daughter.But I did just read wbat he said and his so-called appology. Quite honestly this is par for the course for him. His brand of so-called humour is quite juvenile and obnoxious.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

Funny how a tasteless joke told about a Conservative is “just a joke” and should be accepted as such, but a joke told about the President, his foibles, his family or Libs in general are labeled as clearly racist or totally inappropriate, hateful remarks. Conservatives are told to “toughen-up” and learn context, while the Left is allowed and incouraged to find or create “sinister intent” in every comment which has ever been made.The double-talk and standards of the political Left is clear and obvious… to everyone but the political Left.It’s a shame that someone as articulate as Letterman doesn’t have the courage to acknowledge such an obvious mistake on his part, and to try and smother such a blunder in such a sophomoric manner.

Posted by Guy Schmidt | Report as abusive

hey chris, then i guess its ok to go after the obama girls, i see them on the public stage quite often, but, hmmm, no “regrettable” jokes?? i guess only conservative parents must hide their children away.

Posted by Virginia | Report as abusive

david needs to retire, nobody knew about the joke that i spoke with so it looks like alot of people don’t watch him anymore. He needs to move on like carson did before he becomes a real bore. Yawn

Posted by Jesus | Report as abusive

Letterman is a political chump, i bet he would love to be invited to a wednesday night bash at the White House, i hear they laugh at all of the taxpayers when they are eating lobster. Must be nice to dine everynight on lavish food not to mention poor people looking for food at soup kitchens with 500 dollar black berry phones taking pictures of whatever the first ladys name is…

Posted by barabus | Report as abusive

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