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


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(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 York 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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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.”