Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin’s Trip to New York


David Letterman’s Top Ten List last night was on the Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin’s Trip to New York (video above). Conservative bloggers are upset.These are many of the same people who were also upset just because Barack Obama had a date night in New York.

Letterman did go a bit overboard with the slutty flight attendant line, but he is a comedian and everyone knows he is doing biting comedy. Personally I’m bothered more by the crap which comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth when she is claiming to be serious, such as her comments noted here and here. It sounds (for other reasons) like even Senate Republicans are getting sick of her.

Update: Needless to say Letterman wasn’t scared off from making fun of Palin because of attacks from Palin and a bunch of right wingers. He had a few more Sarah Palin jokes in tonight’s monologue. He did not apologize to flight attendants who do have a legitimate complaint about being compared to Sarah Palin.

One particularly dishonest conservative blogger (who does not deserve a link) isn’t even satisfied with criticizing what a comedian really said and is now attacking Letterman based upon a distortion of what was said–claiming a joke about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was about raping a fourteen year old.

I imagine that Letterman’s attackers from the authoritarian right share Sarah Palin’s Orwellian view of the First Amendment–that it was intended to protect Sarah Palin from criticism. Their outrage would be far more tolerable if 1) they were honest about it and 2) far worse comments weren’t being made every day on conservative talk radio and on Fox but presented as serious commentary as opposed to jokes.

Update 2: In response to a request from a reader who cannot pick up the video, here are the Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin’s Trip to New York:

10. Visited New York landmarks she normally only sees from Alaska

9. Laughed at all the crazy-looking foreigners entering the U.N.

8. Made moose jerky on Rachael Ray

7. Keyed Tina Fey’s car

6. After a wink and a nod, ended up with a kilo of crack

5. Made coat out of New York City rat pelts

4. Sat in for Kelly Ripa. Regis couldn’t tell the difference.

3. Finally met one of those Jewish people Mel Gibson’s always talking about

2. Bought makeup from Bloomingdale’s to update her “slutty flight attendant” look

1. Especially enjoyed not appearing on Letterman

Tuesday night Letterman said that Palin took ride in a sight seeing helicopter over New York and was shooting at rats, that Palin and Rudy Giuliani went to a Yankee’s game and sat in the far right side of the stadium, and that Palin had a tough time keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter. (I only said that his Palin jokes were creating controversy, not that they were particularly funny).

Update 3: Some right wingers are now lying about what Letterman said last night. As I added in response to a comment, this is about defending freedom of speech. Late night comedians are a prominent form of knocking the establishment, regardless of political party. Right wingers are just spreading lies about what Letterman said because they object to such freedom of expression.

Defending free speech does not mean picking and choosing which speech is allowable. Bristol Palin has been making public appearances to speak about pregnancy, including recently in New York, and Palin has made a point of parading her children in public. This makes her fair game for Letterman’s jokes. While this might not be in the greatest taste, his joke was far tamer than some of the jokes about Chelsea Clinton from the right–at a time when she was far younger.

Conservatives must realize that they have no argument here which has led them to see a need to lie about what Letterman said both Monday and Tuesday night.

Update 4: Last night the first comments I saw at other liberal blogs were actually falling for the right wing talking points. I won’t mention them here, allowing them a chance to come to their senses and get over the humiliation of being taken in this way. There are more blogs countering the right wing nonsense today. TBogg writes:

If conservatives want to spend their days and nights waging blog jihad against a late nite comedian, I say let them. It’ll keep them out of gangs and off of drugs (although in the case of mini-Godlstein, elephant tranquilizers might have a much needed calming effect  making him the exception to the rule)  and maybe we’ll have fewer murdered cops and doctors.

I think all reasonable people can agree that would be a good thing.

The Long Goodby writes:

As the whining mobs on the right feign fainting spells in outrage, the rest of us know that Letterman did Palin a favor by adding yet another notch on Palin and the Right’s endless game of Martyrdom. Rather then deal with the issues and Palin’s absurd takes on governance and relevant issues, the Right gets to deflect criticism by citing yet another incident in which poor Sarah was victimized by the media. All the while pretending that the endless jokes directed at former President Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the non-stop, deeply egregious and unfounded epitaphs directed at President Obama mean nothing. The words that come out of Palin’s own mouth are arguably more damning then Letterman’s acerbic sense of humor…

Taylor Marsh just thinks it is absurd to hear “outrage from conservatives over sexism.” The Week provides a brief  report on the controversy which includes a quotation from this post.

Update 5: David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears

Update 6: Sarah Palin Jokes About Willow While Rejecting Letterman Offer

Update 7: Sarah Palin Continues To Drag Daughter Through Mud For Political Gain


  1. 1
    Teddy_J says:

    Ron, why would you go so far out of your way – using the logic of moral equivilance until your original points have become twisted up like a pretzel – to defend a declining, bitter comedian making a joke about statutory rape? For the last few months, I have visited your blog periodically because you have provided some very good commentary on occasion, but also because you advertise yourself as a defender of liberty and enlightened thought – i.e. not just another malicious partisan hack. 
    I’m a liberal who sometimes veers toward libertarianism, but more than anything, I lament the decline of social civility along with the erosion of individual character, integrity, principles.  There is a dearth of sites – both left and right – that place a strong emphasis on actually promoting enlightened discussion and liberal values.   If your mission is to do exactly that, why defend the indefensible – to what purpose?
    Why not just admit (or ignore the fact) that Letterman made a gratuitous “joke” at the expense of a child and move onto the important matters? And don’t say, “if we do not repsond, it will allow the wingnuts to get mileage out of this particular meme.” Letterman is a comedian, not the Speaker of the House.
    Besides, let’s face it, these days much of the media have gotten too smart to entertain the old right wing talking points and tricks  that might jeopardize the progressive ascendancy. So, why not set aside the gamesmanship for a couple of years while we try to save this country? Let’s be bigger men than the right wing hacks. The Democratic bloc will ultimately rise or fall based on policy results, anyway.   I believe that this country is facing some very serious challenges that far, far surpass in importance the questions of whether the Democrats will pick up a few more Congressional seats in 2010 and whether Obama can carry Ohio and Florida in 2012. Let’s not become so Machiavellian that we lose our souls in the process.    

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Why are you repeating the lies of right wingers? Letterman made a joke about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. While it is debatable whether that is in good taste, it is a lie to say he made a joke about statutory rape.

    This is not about defending the indefensible. This is about defending freedom of speech. Late night comedians are a prominent form of knocking the establishment, regardless of political party. Right wingers are just spreading lies about what Letterman said because they object to such freedom of expression. Defending free speech does not mean picking and choosing which speech is allowable.

    Yes, Letterman is a comedian, not Speaker of the House. Therefore we expect to hear jokes from Letterman which include things which might not be appropriate coming from the Speaker of the House.

    What is indefensible is to claim that Letterman was joking about a 14 year old when he was clearly joking about Bristol, or to claim he was joking about rape when he had not done so. Bristol Palin has been making public appearances to speak about pregnancy, including recently in New York, and Palin has made a point of parading her children in public. This makes her fair game for jokes from the perspective of the late night comics. While this might not be in the greatest taste, his joke was far tamer than some of the jokes about Chelsea Clinton from the right–at a time when she was far younger.

  3. 3
    Dr Soos says:

    Ron, tell us exactly what this “lie” is.  What did Letterman actually say and how are we supposed to interpret it?  That he meant 18-yr. old Bristol who wasn’t accompanying Palin rather than 14-yr old Willow who was?

    Who is being dishonest here?  And who is hellbent on giving Letterman the benefit of the doubt because the victim is in his personal pantheon of demons?

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Are you really that dense?

    It really is irrelevant as to who was at the game. It is just the format for the jokes as Letterman throws whoever he wants to joke about into going to the game with Sarah Palin.

    Monday night he joked about Bristol. His jokes about a Palin daughter and pregnancy are clearly about Bristol (the daughter who is well known for having been pregnant), regardless of whether she was there.

    Tuesday night Letterman joked about Rudy Giuliani going to the game with her. It also doesn’t matter whether Giuliani was there with her.

    Tonight it is possible he will make a joke using the format of going to the game with Sarah Palin to joke about someone else who was not there. This is a common type of formula for Letterman’s jokes.

  5. 5
    Teddy_J says:

    [comment deleted. I am not going to waste my time responding to lies I have already debunked, and am certainly not going to waste my time with replies which proceed to misrepresent what I said (as you also did the other time you commented here). There are other places which are better suited for such hate-filled comments.]

  6. 6
    Brent says:

    This is a transparent attempt to deflect criticism from Palin’s ridiculous statements on government policy by turning this into an attack on Letterman. Nobody supports joking about a 14 year old kid and rape or prostitution. By raising such outlandish charges they give the illusion of being on the side of reason.

    Such twisting of others  words is a common tactic from wingnuts. This reminds me a lot of how they twisted a joke by Kerry before the 2008 primaries.

    Teddy_J is clearly a troll claiming to be a liberal while repeating right wing smears, thinking that he fools people by calling himself a liberal while giving the smears more credibility.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:


    Yes, we have seen such attacks based upon similar distortions so many times in the past.

    It is a common practice in blogs for trolls to claim to be a liberal to promote right wing talking points as well as to make liberal arguments look weaker by presenting them from a warped right wing perspective.

    To be fair I’ve heard complaints from conservative bloggers of being subjected to the same from liberals, and I don’t doubt they are right. Basically there are lots of nuts on the internet from both left and right. That’s why blogs have a moderation function so we don’t have to waste our time on their nonsense and can concentrate more on serious discussion. I am certainly not going to waste time with arguments which come down to claims someone said something different from what they actually said (other than perhaps an initial response to clarify the facts) or waste time with people who try to argue with me by saying I’m saying something different from what I have posted here.

  8. 8
    Fritz says:

    Palin is definitely a good target for cheap jokes.  I wonder to what extent she is being primed (and by whom) to be a serious contender for the 2012 GOP nomination.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    She is definitely a “candidate” at this early stage and is looking towards a run in 2012. Whether she turns into a serious candidate remains to be seen. She both has a real base of support and a lot of serious negatives.

    If Obama is still popular in 2012 and looks unbeatable, I also wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other Republicans sit back and allow her to be a sacrificial lamb.

  10. 10
    Brent says:

    All talk about Willow makes zero sense. We don’t even know if Willow was at the game. The news report cited by the wingnuts only say that Willow was with Sarah Palin at another event on this trip.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, there is nothing to their story. I haven’t seen anything which says for certain who actually was at the game, and it is sure doubtful that there was anything on this before the joke was written. If Willow was there we don’t know if Letterman knew it, and he was clearly joking about Bristol. As I said before, who was really at the game with Sarah Palin is irrelevant. It is simply a formula for a joke this week to joke about someone who was at the game with her, as he did Tuesday with Rudy Giuliani, who may or may not have been there. Letterman’s jokes typically contain some degree of both fact and fiction when talking about current events.

    Strange that the conservative bloggers who say Monday’s joke couldn’t be about Bristol (as if a joke about a pregnant daughter of Sarah Palin would be about anyone else) because Bristol wasn’t there aren’t bothered by Tuesday’s joke about Giuliani, who wasn’t there.

  12. 12
    Brent says:

    It is also curious that the right wingers come up with a lot of charges claiming liberals oppose freedom of speech with nonsense claims about political correctness but they are always the ones who get so upset about what someone says. When Ann Coulter says something far worse than anything David Letterman said she laughs it off as a joke and claims that liberals have no sense of humor.

  13. 13
    Fritz says:

    I don’t find the political correctness claims be be “nonsense”.  But certainly conservatives are as quick to censor as liberals.

    And it’s feminists who don’t have a sense of humor, not liberals.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    The problem with the right’s attacks based upon political correctness is that it is an issue where a minority back political correctness while many more liberals are more concerned with freedom of speech. It comes down to the problem of attributing a view to all liberals (or to all conservatives) when there is such a vast range of people who might fall under one label.

    Coulter’s claims of a lack of humor might have been made against feminists at some time, but she has also made the charge against all liberals when liberals have complained about things she has said. I don’t know if anything specific was intended by the commenter above, but some of the blogs have been using the example of Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot, and then saying liberals had no sense of humor when they objected.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    I should also add to the first paragraph that there are also still some conservatives around who are strong supporters of civil liberties. They also tend to be the same ones who are uncomfortable with the anti-intellectualism of the Sarah Palin/Joe the Plumber wing of the GOP.

    I sort of like the classification used by Richard Posner in the interview with The Economist which I had a post on. He distinguishes between his brand of conservatism and “idiot conservatism.”

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