David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears

letterman

On Monday’s show David Letterman made jokes about Sarah Palin and made a joke about her pregnant daughter. The joke was clearly about Bristol Palin–the daughter who had been pregnant and had recently been in New York publically discussing the topic. (Actually the joke was even more about Alex Rodriguez and his antics with women, but we don’t see Rodriguez protesting the joke.) Right wingers have been spreading outright lies about what Letterman said, claiming the joke was both about rape and about Willow Palin when there is no basis for either claim. More on the topic here.

Sarah Palin, who apparently lacks the intelligence to realize that such right wing smears are not to believed (largely as she has been known to spread a few right wing smears of her own) has picked up this lie. While tonight’s show has not aired yet, Entertainment Weekly is reporting that David Letterman does respond:

Taping tonight’s episode of The Late Show, David Letterman took a few minutes to respond to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who called him “pathetic” in a radio interview after he made her and her family the butt of a recent Top 10 list. The late-night host had drawn particular fire from Palin and some pundits for a joke about one of Palin’s daughters being impregnated by New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez during a trip to Yankee Stadium. Camp Palin apparently took the joke to be a crack against Palin’s 14-year-old daughter Willow, who had recently attended a Yankees game, but Letterman insisted today that the real target was 18-year-old daughter Bristol.

“We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news and we made some jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter [Bristol]… and now they’re upset with me…” Letterman says on tonight’s show. “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…. 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.” Saying he hopes he’s “cleared part of this up,” Letterman extended an invitation to Palin to come on the show as a guest.

My bet is that those spreading the smear will continue to smear Letterman with their lies about what he has said as this is really not about any belief that Letterman had made jokes about a 14 year old girl. This is really about the desire of the authoritarian right to silence anyone who expresses opposing viewpoints. While Letterman’s jokes were not all in good taste, as he himself admits, late night comics have become a major source of dissent in this country as they mock the establishment, regardless of political party. The authoritarian right reflexively oppose any such questioning of right wing authority just as they opposed exposing how the Republicans lied us into a war and then committed war crimes against prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guitanimo Bay. Spreading lies as they are doing with David Letterman is a typical tactic of the authoritarian right as they wage their battles in this dishonest manner knowing that they have no arguments which can withstand either factual analysis or rational thought.

Update: Fortunately the show did not dwell on giving Palin an apology which she did not deserve as Dave did get in some more jokes at Palin’s expense during the monologue. He said he felt depressed about being called pathetic by Sarah Palin. To get over it he went out and spent $150,000 on clothes, and he does feel better now. He did express some concern about pissing off a hunter.

After returning from the monologue Letterman read the protests from both Todd and Sarah Palin and said he totally  agreed with their condemnation of the types of jokes they described. Then he stated that “that’s not what I did” and proceeded to repeat the actual jokes he told–pointing out that it’s a joke, “that’s all its supposed to be.” He agreed the jokes were ugly and he regretted telling them, but there are thousands of jokes he’s told over the years that he regrets.

I suspect right wingers will be even more upset considering the frequent laughter and applause from the audience as he quoted the unwarranted attacks on him, repeated his actual jokes, and threw in a few new jokes. The funniest part was clearly that Palin and other conservatives were making such a big deal over a couple of jokes. All in all Letterman did a good job of responding to the attacks. He managed to both show respect for  idea of not joking about a fourteen year old while showing well-deserved disrespect for the bogus attacks.

Update 2: In the end I expect both Letterman and Palin to benefit from all this publicity (and expect that Paliln will accept the offer to appear on the show). It may or may not have anything to do with the Palin jokes, but Late Night With David Letterman has moved into first place in the late night ratings.

Update 3: Replies tended to be of two types. Many attacked Letterman because of making a joke about Bristol Palin, often going on to talk about the virtues of Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, or other comedians. While I would prefer that Bristol Palin not be a target of such comedians, the fact is that every one of them has made similar jokes about Bristol Palin. Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson, along with Letterman, have all made jokes about Bristol Palin. It makes no sense to single out Letterman.

This is not really about him telling a joke about Bristol Palin. It is about a smear campaign from right wingers who were first angry because he told jokes about Sarah Palin, and then realized he had also told a joke about Bristol. Attacking him for making a joke about Bristol wouldn’t get much millage, so they invented the false claims that the joke was about rape and that it was about a younger daughter.

Many of the comments concentrated on personal attacks on David Letterman, with them typically being far more vicious than Letterman’s jokes.  Such attacks (which have been deleted) hardly support any attempts to take the high ground against Letterman. It should also be remembered that Letterman’s jokes were just that, jokes, and not the types of personal attacks now coming from the right.

Update 4: Besides what I mentioned in the above update, there is one additional common attack being made on Letterman–claims that the joke is motivated by partisanship and that he wouldn’t make such a joke about a Democrat.  These attacks most likely come from people who 1) don’t really watch the late night talk shows and know what types of jokes are common and 2) buy into the right wing meme of being persecuted.

Letterman regularly makes fun of politicians and people in the pubic eye regardless of party. It certainly is not, as some have claimed, a matter of attacking the children of people he disagrees with.  Bristol Palin has become a common target of comedians because of the humor value, not for partisan reasons. Letterman also tells jokes about John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer, and would have no qualms about telling jokes about a daughter of a Democrat in a similar situation. Letterman, like all the late night comics, thrive on jokes involving sex. Party does not matter here.

Update 5: Sarah Palin Jokes About Willow While Rejecting Letterman Offer

Update 6: Sarah Palin Continues To Drag Daughter Through Mud For Political Gain

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42 Comments

  1. 1
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “Saying he hopes he’s “cleared part of this up,” Letterman extended an invitation to Palin to come on the show as a guest.”

    Palin is non-ideological right-winger (an all-over-the-field political pragmatist like Bush and McCain which makes her unpredictable and politically useless in my book) — but she’s no dummy. If she’s as socially smart as I think she is, she’ll take David up on his offer.  She can be extremely charming and charismatic in person, and that’s her real power, and in public life and politics, that’s nothing to sneeze it.

    If she can ever get her act together (politically, intellectually, e.g., like Regan), she’ll be a potent force on the public stage in the comming politicial seasons.

  2. 2
    Christoher Skyi says:

    opps — I meant “nothing to sneeze at”

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I certainly expect her to take him up on the offer. Palin’s a politician and thrives on such publicity. She’ll go on just as McCain returned to the show after being attacked by Letterman for standing him up.

    Besides, as Dave often said during that dispute “the road to the White House goes through me.”

    I’m glad you stipulated “socially smart.” She is certainly in the Bush mode of being socially and politically smart while not being all that well informed about national issues.

    It is hard to say for certain how far she will go. She is no Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, the Republicans have no leaders like Reagan right now, and the religious right does see her as a leader. I also suspect that, assuming Obama looks unbeatable for reelection, a lot of other Republicans will back away in 2012 and allow her to be the sacrificial lamb.

    If there is a an actual battle for the nomination I question how long she could last on the campaign trail or in debates against more knowledgeable candidates.

  4. 4
    Mike D. says:

    Hmmm… Letterman gets headlines with silly jokes about the Palins. Then invites her on the show to discuss it… and people tune in to watch. In week three of Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show.

    Who’s using who here?

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s show business. Both Letterman and Palin will wind up benefiting from this in the end.

    I don’t really think that Letterman anticipated how much noise there would be over these jokes. They are no more controversial (with what he actually said) than thousands of other jokes he has told.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    While it may or may not have anything to do with the Palin jokes, Letterman has moved into first place in the late night ratings.

  7. 7
    frances pawlowski says:

    David, David, you went too far with the jokes about Palin.  I am neither democrat or republican.  I consider myself an independent.   And   what is going on with FoxNetwork and you.  I did see your show with O’Reilly.   Since when did late night shows also become a platform for political debate.  I also watch OReilly and  you two are definitely buddies.   So what now he bad mouths you and you run a Fox Channel On It segment??   Come on you two….let’s get out of the sandbox and play like big boys.  I remember when Johnny was on.  He had such a great variety of guests and they were not always pushing their book,  movie, or engaging in lengthy discertations about their children and how clever and cute, etc. they are.   You too have become guilty of  going on about Harry.   And now about getting married…don’t you think it was about time to get married … for God’s sake.  I always admired the way you kept your private life very private.   I also admired that in Jay Leno.    Never was a fan of Conan.   So now what do we (the millions who have tuned in each night to watch Leno or you) have do for the good ole Late Night talk shows.   Come on, Dave, let’s get back on track. 
    FYI:  I am 72 yrs old.   Widow of  five years.   Raised three children. Married 46 years.    In 1998, my daughter and I talked about going to New York in the Fall of 1999…you know Autumn in New York.  I went so far as to investigate getting tickets to your show….which would have been the highlight of  the trip for me..   In May 1999    I was diagnosed with APL Leukemia.  That stopped all talk of a trip to New York   I am now considered a cure and a survivor.   I wish I could have done the Autumn trip  in 1999 because those were the days (I feel a song coming on) my friend when your shows were worth losing an hour of sleep.     Come on, bring back the David Letterman of days ago…..cause his fans miss him.

    PS:  What’s with the grey jacket and dark trousers on tonight’s show?  and did we see you run across the stage at the opening of the show.    Was there a wardrobe malfunction??????   That outfit was definitely not you.   I knew it was really you when I saw that you had on your grey sox. 
      

  8. 8
    frances pawlowski says:

    Just read my comment….big error on you and O”Reilly.  You are definitely NOT buddies.   I said you two were buddies.   

  9. 9
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “He agreed the jokes were ugly and he regretted telling them, but there are thousands of jokes he’s told over the years that he regrets.”

    I think that’s an important admission.  He’s a seasoned comedian and comic writer, and he knows better:

    True comedy is never mean-spirited, and it kind of came off that way.  Anytime someone has a personal dislike for someone else and they let that dislike sneak or leak into a joke, it comes across a “low blow” or mean-spirited — worse, it’s  disrespectful:  you’re really expressing a negative personal opinion about someone, in public, when they are not present to defend themselves, and it’s hidden behind a smile, behind humor.  That just doesn’t fly professionally because  it’s not just funny because you (the listener) know it really wasn’t meant to be funny, or at the very least listener noticed more the possible mean-spirited intent behind the joke rather than any humor that was there.

    People are paying Letterman to entertain them, not offend half the audience and cause the other half to wonder what the hell has David so got against Palin that he would use his show as an opportunity to knock her? 

    It was weird and uncomfortable to listen to because it made a more about David that what he was trying to be funny about. That’s a cardinal sin in the comedy and the entertainment business.   In the end, it’s a job.

    Johnny Carson really set the bar and standard for this sort of thing, and if an up and coming comedian got in any way personal or vindictive under the humor, like a rude and dunken party guest, they were not invited back.  

  10. 10
    kay says:

    Hopefully, there will be two things to come out of this –
    Viewers will start watching Conan or Jimmy Kimmel more; they are much funnier and tell jokes, not make nasty comments (I do not think Letterman tells “jokes”;  he just snipes nastiness), and secondly, realize CBS is heading down in the ratings–their line-ups are heading in the wrong direction (and Letterman being on top is very temporary)

  11. 11
    Stephanie says:

    Are you kidding…this was not a joke!  Letterman like many other opinionated entertainers is just spouting  his political opinion… because he has a stage.  

              He’s supposed to be FUNNY— but he’s not!!!  

    Once again DL has used bad taste and showed his lack of  true entertainment ability.    Why would he think smearing any young girl was funny?  He’s proven again, he’s more of an obnoxious idiot  than a supposedly funny guy.

    I have no time for him, I miss Jay–a true comedian!

  12. 12
    Julie says:

    “This is really about the desire of the authoritarian right to silence anyone who expresses opposing viewpoints.”

    Interesting quote from above.  Does the same hold true for the now former Miss California?

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Christopher,

    Would Johnny have made jokes about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy? We have no way to know because he is not around.

    What we do know is that pretty much all, if not all, of the late night comedians told jokes about Bristol Palin and it makes no sense to single out Letterman. This is not really about him telling a joke about Bristol Palin. It is about a smear campaign from right wingers who were first angry because he told jokes about Sarah Palin, and then realized he had also told a joke about Bristol. Attacking him for making a joke about Bristol wouldn’t get much millage, so they invented the false claims that the joke was about rape and that it was about a younger daughter.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Julie,

    “Does the same hold true for the now former Miss California?”

    Certainly. I (and some other liberal writers) defended Carrie Prejean’s right to express her opinion on gay marriage despite disagreeing with her.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    Kay,

    “Viewers will start watching Conan or Jimmy Kimmel more; they are much funnier and tell jokes, not make nasty comments.”

    Actually both Conan and Kimmel, along with Leno and the other late night talk show hosts have all made similar jokes about Bristol Palin so singling out Letterman for such attacks is ridiculous.

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Stephanie,

    “Why would he think smearing any young girl was funny? He’s proven again, he’s more of an obnoxious idiot than a supposedly funny guy.

    I have no time for him, I miss Jay–a true comedian!”

    But Jay Leno also told jokes about Bristol Palin. You can’t have it both ways.

    As for being funny, the jokes got laughs both when first told and when repeated last night. You can argue such jokes should not have been told, but from the response it was clear they were funny. That is also why David Letterman, along with Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson, have all told jokes about Bristol Palin.

    At least you don’t have to worry about missing Leno for long–he will be back in September.

  17. 17
    Julie says:

    Great to know that you defended Ms. Prejean.  Did you also use harsh characterization of those liberal writers who didn’t defend her as you did here?

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, I don’t think Mr. Letterman said Bristol was knocked up by A Rod.  I believe he said that Palin’s daughter was knocked up.  Willow was the only daughter at the game, not Bristol.  So, to say that “they invented the false claims that the joke was…about a younger daughter” is overreaching.  I agree that the accusation by many that the joke was about rape was also overreaching.

    I don’t care how anyone feels about Sarah Palin, talking about children (anyone’s children) that way is wrong and uncalled for.  It was a disgusting attempt at humor, and I’m glad to hear that he regrets making the comments.  However, I don’t think he will stop attacking children of politicians with whom he disagrees.  I guess time will tell if he truly regrets making the joke, or if it’s just a convenient statement for now to get people off his back.  I hope he truly means his words of regret.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Julie,

    I also criticized liberal writers who went overboard attacking Prejean. We must also separate the two questions of Prejean’s right to express her views and her views. I support Prejean’s right to express her views. I also support the right of others who disagree with Prejean’s discriminatory views (while agreeing that many went overboard in their attacks on her).

    There is also a major difference here. Many people objected to Prejean based upon what she actually said. Letterman is being subjected to a vicious smear campaign which has been spreading lies claiming Letterman said things he never did say.

    The joke was clearly about Bristol. Bristol Palin is the daughter who was pregnant, and who had just recently conducted a public appearance in New York discussing her pregnancy. Mentioning going to the game was a simple formula for the joke, regardless of who was really there. Letterman’s jokes frequently mix fact and fiction. He told another joke about Giuliani going with Palin the next day, and if not for all the controversy I bet we would be hearing more jokes about people who weren’t even in New York going to the game with Palin. It is doubtful whether the writers even knew which daughter was at the game. That was irrelevant with regards to the formula for the joke.

    Sure, Letterman should not have made a joke about a kid like Bristol Palin but that is really a different issue. The fact remains that Letterman along with all the other late night comics have been making jokes about her for a long time, whether I like it or not. It makes no sense to single out Letterman when Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson have all done the same. Bristol Palin has now made herself a public personality and as long as she is appearing in public it is likely that comedians will see her as fair game.

    The real issue here is the manner in which the right, knowing that attacks purely based upon telling one of many jokes about Bristol Palin would not get any attention, invented attacks on Letterman with their false claims of having told a rape joke about a 14 year old.

    It really isn’t a matter of attacking the children of people he disagrees with. Its a simple matter that Bristol Palin has become a common target of comedians because of the humor value, not for partisan reasons. Letterman also tells jokes about John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer, and would have no qualms about telling jokes about a daughter of a Democrat in a similar situation.

  19. 19
    liturgicalyear says:

    liturigcal: David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears – Liberal Values …: Christoher Skyi: From.. http://tinyurl.com/klpzom

  20. 20
    Fritz says:

    You people watch way too much television.  I think I saw Letterman twice and O’Brian once.  I saw Kimmel doing some shtick on Dancing With The Stars — it was terrible enough I just fast forwarded through that section for the rest of the run.

    I’ve sort of liked Leno the few times I’ve seen him — but honestly I’ve know him more from reading his automobile and motorcycle column in Popular Mechanics.

    It seems futile to slice and dice whether some joke made by these people was in poor taste.

  21. 21
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “Attacking him for making a joke about Bristol wouldn’t get much millage, so they invented the false claims that the joke was about rape and that it was about a younger daughter.”

    Yes, that’s exactly right — there are legitimate criticisms of DL’s monologue  (centrally about just not really doing his job [being funny] w/that monologue as a highly paid and respected entertainer, but 99.99999% of the time, he is doing his job, so I’m sure the producers and sponsers are quite happy with him though probably not so much about those specific Palin jokes), but you’re exactly right — the right-wing is mischaracterizing DL:  it was a minor lapses of professional judegement, nothing more, and DL acknowleged that. 

    The bad thing about the mischaracterizing DL is that it could so piss DL off that he might deliberately do exactly what they think he’s doing.  It them becomes a pissing match, and the producers and sponsers & DL too, understandably, want to nip that in the bud

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    “It seems futile to slice and dice whether some joke made by these people was in poor taste.”

    That is essentially what I was saying when I first posted on this. At the time the right wing was complaining about the slutty flight attendant line about Sarah Palin. While in poor taste, my initial view was that it is ridiculous to make this much noise about a joke when all of them have a number which are in questionable taste.

    It wasn’t later until some of the right wingers realized that they could distort his joke on Bristol Palin and started making noise about that. From that it turned into a full fledged right wing smear campaign, and this became the bigger story.

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    Christopher,

    It is possible that being a target of  such a vicious right wing smear campaign could lead Letterman to more actively use his show to attack the right. More likely he will continue to do what he has always done and make fun of everyone, showing little concern for those who are upset.

    Still, there is a big difference between hearing complaints from those who are made fun of and seeing this turn into a smear campaign. Being human we could not really blame Letterman if he responds with a more negative view of the right wing.

    If it is wrong to tell rape jokes about a 14 year old, it is also wrong to spread lies claiming that Letterman has done so. One measure of this will be whether the smear persists. If it dies down than it could be written off as a misunderstanding on the part of many who repeated the initial smears. If conservatives persist in spreading a clearly false smear even after he has pointed out that it is false Letterman could not be blamed for getting pissed off–and it is not wise to really piss off David Letterman.

  24. 24
    Fritz says:

    Ron — he should send them a fruit basket.  People will now tune in just to see what the fuss is about and thus boost his ratings.  Crazy.

  25. 25
    Ron Chusid says:

    Of course. As I noted previously ultimately both Letterman and Palin will manage to benefit from this publicity. Far more people will watch Letterman due to all htis noise than will stay away. Most likely Palin will ultimately accept Letterman’s invitation to appear on the show (unless she is too cowardly) and both will benefit.

  26. 26
    Gayle Therrien says:

    David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears – Liberal Values …: Mentioning going to the game was a simple fo.. http://bit.ly/GsFMI

  27. 27
    liturgicalyear says:

    liturigcal: David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears – Liberal Values …: Christoher Skyi: From.. http://tinyurl.com/klpzom

  28. 28
    Fritz says:

    Maybe Ms. Prejean can be there too.  And there can be a wind machine.

  29. 29
    Ron Chusid says:

    Now Fritz, you know what type of problem Carrie Prejean has around wind. CBS would not want to face the FCC fines for the inevitable wardrobe malfunction.

  30. 30
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “The bad thing about the mischaracterizing DL is that it could so piss DL off that he might deliberately do exactly what they think he’s doing.  It then becomes a pissing match, and the producers and sponsers & DL too, understandably, want to nip that in the bud”

    Too late:

    Sarah Palin Has ‘No Intention’ To Appear on David Letterman’s Show

    Sounds like Palin was pretty offended, more than I thought. 

    This doesn’t reflect well on DL — unless the point and intent was  to offend the target of the joke., and DL is not going to admit to that. Maybe he should — just come clean and admit it. 

    The only defense now is to shrug his shoulders and say that Palin just took it the wrong way and no offense was intended, and just drop the whole matter.   I think however, and most people know, that the intent was to offend her (not in a big serious way, but it was there), for whatever reason, so DL pushing that will make him look disingenuous. 

    It would be like someone you know or love who has a weight problem and DL, for whatever personal reasons of his own, just doesn’t like or respect her. Then DL make a “fat” joke that everyone knows it’s more about how DL feels about your friend than about something universally funny about her.

    If DL make a personal attack on your friend behind an unfunny fat joke, to perhaps even hurt her, you’d be offended. And you should be feel offened, and you would defend your friend, obvioulsy.

    (I remember seeing a show in the 70’s, Dean Martin? who would “roust” presidents and well known people. They were hilarious and extremely well done because somehow the writers pin pointed what was truly, honestly, universally  funny about the person. We all have such things about us, and a sharp witty comedic eye can bring that out. There’s real value in that because it makes these well know, high status people more “human” — because that’s what they are, after all — and more down to earth in a way to doesn’t place them beneath us.)  

    Palin, on the other hand, should now just walk away.  It’s not like she’s some kind of public persona non Grata where 90% of more of listeners simply wouldn’t care that DL went after her — in a LOT of peoples minds, she has the high ground here because she’s hadn’t done or said anything personal to or about DL to invite that treatment of her.

    You have to ask what’s DL’s really motivation in going after her?  He doesn’t like, personally, just does not like her (i.e., in his eyes, her views are equal to her as a human being, there’s no difference in DL’s mind, I’m guessing). Fine. But why use his show to go after her?  DL commands an enormous share of the public’s attention, way more than Palin, so he’s got the PR advantage here, and if he’s not careful, he’ll start to look like a bully.

  31. 31
    Ron Chusid says:

    Palin is just playing this for support. Right wingers like her love to play the victim.

    “You have to ask what’s DL’s really motivation in going after her?” It was primarily a joke as Sarah Palin, for multiple reasons, provides a good target for the late night comics.  Sarah Palin jokes provide an easy laugh (as do any jokes involving sex). Similarly Letterman frequently jokes about Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards because it is an easy laugh. The latest jokes about Palin were  nothing different from what he has previously done , and no different from the jokes from all the other late night comics.

    “DL commands an enormous share of the public’s attention, way more than Palin, so he’s got the PR advantage here, and if he’s not careful, he’ll start to look like a bully.”

    That’s one reason why I don’t expect him to really retaliate against Palin. Right now, despite all the noise from the right, Letterman has the high moral ground. Letterman is the victim of untrue charges. He is the one who both apologized and explained the situation. Now, as you suggested, he can walk away and write this off as a misunderstanding on Palin’s part, and if they continue to attack on this they will look increasingly ridiculous. (Of course some segments of the right do thrive on smears like this, so Palin might keep this up to keep them motivated).

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if eventually Palin decides she cannot play this to her benefit any more and decides the publicity from appearing with Letterman is worth accepting. It largely comes down to whether she wants to play to her base, in whic case she will persist in attacking Letterman, or if she wants to try to play to a wider audience.

  32. 32
    Ron Chusid says:

    By the way, there is also a new post up regarding Palin’s statement. The irony is that, while Letterman never joked about Willow, Palin dragged Willow’s name into this (as the right wing bloggers did) to take a cheap shot.

    She can’t have it both ways–objecting to jokes about her daughter (especially when based upon false charges) and then use her daughter to attack Letterman.

  33. 33
    Christoher Skyi says:

    Just for reference, here is a classic Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, of Don Rickles! Here is comedian Nipsey Russell roasting Don!

    Don was (and famous) for being ‘old school’ in that he doesn’t shy away from “ethnic” jokes. Nipsey (and other guest) call him out on that, but it’s never mean-spirited, never offensive, simply because it was never their intent.

    And for a treat, here’s

    Reagan tells Soviet jokes (they’re very good, and he was the President of the U.S. at the time, so he was very careful not to offend.  That kind of humor brings us together. DL’s Palin jokes that night pushed us apart).

  34. 34
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “Similarly Letterman frequently jokes about Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards because it is an easy laugh.”

    yes, but NOBODY likes or respects them. They are public persona non Gratas.

    So the jokes about them work because they’re not just about how DL personally feels about these losers, they’re about how we ALL feel about these losers.  That was DL’s stumble: Palin is not like Spitzer or Edwards in the public mind, even by people who don’t like her politics.

  35. 35
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “That’s one reason why I don’t expect him to really retaliate against Palin. Right now, despite all the noise from the right, Letterman has the high moral ground. Letterman is the victim of untrue charges. He is the one who both apologized and explained the situation.”

    Good point again — this type of noise from the right, a gross mis-representation of DL, e.g., saying he endorses rape or some other ridiculous claim, only hurts Palin’s position because it’s a distraction.  Just call DL out on what he really did and let it go. In fact, in DL apology, he admitted it wasn’t his finest moment.  Let it go right wing bloggers!

  36. 36
    biggertweets says:

    David Letterman Responds To Right Wing Smears – Liberal Values …: Mentioning going to the game was a simple fo.. http://bit.ly/GsFMI

  37. 37
    Leroy Harris says:

    I consider myself a liberal. I voted for Obama,  John Kerry and Al Gore.  I despise George Bush.  I have two daughters, and I must say that David Letterman’s jokes about Sarah Palin’s daughter infuriated me.  First of all, the only Palin daughter at Yankee stadium the day David referred to was Willow Palin.  David’s people should have checked their facts. Sarah was well within her rights as a mom to react accordingly.  And yes, I do get that David actually was talking about Bristol Palin, age 18.  Does that really make it all okay?  Not in my book. Tell me, just how funny is an 18 year old getting “knocked up” in the middle of Yankee Stadium during a  baseball game?  On his next show David went even further, saying Sarah Palin had to fight off Eliot Spitzer who was forcibly trying to make his move on the girl  Wow!  How ’bout we humiliate every young woman in America that had sex in high school. That would really be fun.  Let’s recap: According to David, his original intention was to imply that Alex Rodriguez was pleasuring himself with an18 year old (seen on TV as “highlights”) while  Elliot Spitzer fought for his turn at bat.  I’m sorry, but torturing an 18 year old girl (regardless of who her mother is) because she made a mistake in her life is not my idea of a good time. Is it yours? Leroy Harris

  38. 38
    Ron Chusid says:

    Leroy,

    Nobody disagrees that such jokes about Bristol Palin were a mistake. There’s universal agreement on that. Even Letterman agreed to that.

    That should no longer be an issue with such universal agreement. The question now is why the right wing continues to make an issue of this.  Letterman’s jokes are no different than jokes told by all the other late night comics who have also told jokes about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. It makes no sense to single him out for personal attacks.

    Letterman was wrong in telling the joke but that does not excuse spreading untrue claims about him as is now being done. The right wingers who are spreading these claims don’t care about Bristol Palin. They just see this as a way to inhibit criticism of Sarah Palin. If they cared about the kids they would not have dragged Willow Palin into this by making up the ridiculous claim that the joke was about her. Even worse, Sarah Palin continues to spread the same smears, making her own jokes about raping a 14 year old, and is dragging her daughter through the mud for political gain.

    What Letterman did was a mistake. What the right wingers and Sarah Palin are doing is far worse.

  39. 39
    John says:

     A good test of a joke about someone is if you would tell it with the person present. Perhaps Letterman should invite Todd Palin instead of Sara on his show and tell that same joke once more to him?

  40. 40
    Ron Chusid says:

    Letterman has apologized to both Sarah and Todd and has invited both of them on to the show.

    Letterman has also said that he shouldn’t have told the joke about Bristol in the first place so it makes no sense to suggest Letterman tell the same joke again. It also makes no sense to continue to smear him with untrue claims about what he said, as so many conservatives are, when he has stated he shouldn’t have told it and (even if inappropriate) his joke about Bristol’s pregnancy isn’t all that different from tons of jokes already told by many comedians.

  41. 41
    John says:

    I never heard any apology from Letterman, only to state that telling that kind of  joke would have been wrong only if it was about a minor. Therefore he stands by his joke.

  42. 42
    Ron Chusid says:

    You left out the key part where he also said he shouldn’t have told the joke about Bristol.

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