Letterman and the Palin apology: 'I understand why people are upset'

In an extraordinary gesture of conciliation, David Letterman spent a good chunk of the first half of Monday night’s Late Show apologizing for the jokes that so offended Gov. Sarah Palin, and making jokes at his own expense about the animosity he has attracted over the past week.

Saying once again that his joke about a Palin daughter at Yankee Stadium had been tasteless, Letterman said what many of us had thought: that “I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl [Willow] was at the ball game.” “I understand why people are upset,” he said, because by now, it’s “the perception rather than the intent.” In other words, Letterman never intended to be cruel, but that’s how it was perceived. He apologized to “the Governor and her family.” 

(Incidentally, Letterman said he came to this realization after listening to a remark about the controversy made by Mark Shields on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, possibly the biggest media-mention Shields or Lehrer has received in this century.)

Fascinatingly, what preceded this was an opening monologue that was virtually all about the Palin brouhaha. His opening words were a sarcastic, “I’m David Letterman, good-will ambassador… I got a call from Mom today. She told me she was siding with the governor.” Talking about how Bernie Madoff’s wife said recently she felt “shunned by friends and neighbors,” he added, “Hey, tell me about it.”

As I wrote yesterday, I wish Letterman did not feel the need to apologize or explain himself yet again. Letterman’s bedrock decency has prevailed over what he must know is Palin’s bedrock opportunism in prolonging the controversy. But if this is the way he’s choosing to try and end this messiness, I hope it works.

Now let’s see what happens next. Will Palin accept Letterman’s apology? Also, on Monday, it was reported that a protest has been planned for Tuesday afternoon outside New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater, where Letterman tapes his show. It’s being co-sponsored by radio host John Ziegler, a creepy specimen who once remarked that the phrase “a rational woman” is “an oxymoron.” This is the man to whom Palin gave an interview when first expressing her concerns about the Letterman jokes. You wouldn’t think she’d want a guy like that in her corner.

What do you think? Should this controversy end now?

For more on the Letterman apology:
Letterman apologizes for Palin comment

An open letter to David Letterman re Sarah Palin

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Comments (716 total) Add your comment
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  • lisa taylor

    Sara Palin deserves what she got and more. she kills innocent animals for kicks and can’t take a joke? when did she became so sensitive wearing those safety glasses? just stay out of New York City if you can’t take the heat.

  • jc in nw

    Yes, by all means protest in front of Letterman’s studio on the day after he apologizes (for a second time). Show America how unforgiving you can be. And be sure to promote you lame Palin documentary and hate filled radio show while you’re at it. Who says you can’t make a buck while pretending to be outraged?
    Look, Ziegler is a class A loon and I’m sure he’ll manage to attract some people just as loony to parade around. Will it change anything? Nope. Dave will still be on the air long after the loons have gone back to the nursing home or put their tin foil hats back on.
    This flap has never really been about Dave. It’s been about a small bitter segment of the population failing to understand that they lost the election. They’re going to be whining about some perceived injustice well into Obama’s second term.

  • Danny

    He shouldn’t have apologized. Palin is a worthless politician and opportunist, grabbing any chance she has to get into the spotlight, even at her daughters expense.
    Noone cares about you Sarah Palin, just shut up and go back into the alaskan cave you came from.

  • Dr. G. Galván

    1. Letterman should never apologized for a joke.
    2. If Palin doesn’t get the joke, it is likely she is really as dim intellectually as many claimed she was.
    3. What about commenting on the bank bailouts? The car bailouts? The overspending on Senate and Congress pay and peripheral expenses? The real issues. Of course, a politician would have to have insight and intellect to address these issues which impact us all.

  • Satish Krishnan

    From my house, I can see Palin’s head deep in her butt. A hypocrite like Palin does not have the right to be upset on this one. She has always been an opportunistic woman and this time too its the same.

  • KING MARK

    Letterman had nothing to apologize for.. It was a joke! Just like Palins campain was a joke, we the public got over that sorry excuse for a campain – She needs to get over this.

  • Bob

    Get over it Sarah! Geez you won’t let it die because you need all the attention you can get. You’re the one who’s keeping YOUR 14 year old daughter in the news. You’re a disgrace….

  • John S.

    Letterman should be fired. His joke was tastless and offensive. Imus was fired for less, there should be no discussion about. this country needs to shape up it’s dialog on national TV, radio and newsprint.

  • Mike

    Politicians are fair game for verbal attacks, BUT NOT THEIR CHILDREN!!! If Rush Limbaugh had said anything that was in the slightest bit negative about Obama’s kids, you’d all be calling for his scalp. The sooner you vile, mean spirited, hypocritical morons on the left get that, the sooner we can progress to having more civil political discussions. And even though politicians are fair game, calling a sitting governor and former VP candidate “slutty” is not exactly intellectual political debate. It’s simply classless and misogynist.

  • Jenny

    Letterman was wrong. Sarah Palin’s anger was reasonable. But this whole thing has been over-blown, probably because we find these people both interesting. People who are upset about it are missing the fact that it is the magnitude of attention that is so nuts. If it bothers them, they need to realize that they have caused this situation by clicking on article links, talking about it and sending in comments.

  • Buck Moron

    Letterman need to be removed from the airwaves of this country….just like Imus was for his comments. Why do we let Letterman get by with it?…because he is liberal? He never directs his smart ass “humor” towards liberals, it’s always conservatives he attacks. Palin’s one conservative who’s pushing back and it’s good to see!!!
    Kick his ass out!!!!

  • riverwoman2

    Previous commentators don’t get it – this was a joke in poor taste picking on a child or at the very least a young woman in a society where most children of public figures are off limits. It was rude, brash, and demeaning to women, sexualizing children etc. So get off your high horse and forget about the election results – that was eons ago. How would you feel it this was made about one of your children. Never saw Chelsea harassed and demeaned in this way – why are Gov. Palin’s children fair targets. Look at your own morals and motivations to believe it is okay to pick on a child – bullies!

  • Satish Krishnan

    Palin and her daughter are in the news always due to a joke.. Pregnant teen joke, campaign joke, Abstinence Tour joke, and now this one.
    I guess she needs to thank dave for getting back in news.

  • Eric the Red

    You guys imploring Palin “to get over it” make it sound it like she is on the air 24/7 talking about it. She’s not. Nor her husband. They were upset, as would I have been, and its perfectly reasonable and understandable they would comment. I think its pretty shallow to imply, or to outright say they are being “opportunistic” with this. Can’t you all just stop bashing the woman for once? Meanwhile if it were me I would accept Letterman’s apology and move on at this point.

  • Satish Krishnan

    She goes, “Dave, you betcha this is tasteless.” *wink* *wink*

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