Much as I admire you, Dave Letterman, Sarah Palin has a point
When GOP presidential candidate John McCain blew off his show last year, lying about the reason for his absence, Letterman milked weeks worth of headlines and material from his outraged reactions -- and even got McCain to visit him in person to get slapped around a bit.
So it was delicious television to watch the grand old man of late night take on criticism from former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin over a few sex-based jokes about her daughter. Palin and her husband accused Letterman of making "sexually perverted" jokes about raping their 14-year-old daughter Willow, because she was the child on the New York visit with Palin that touched off the jokes.
Letterman took to the airwaves last night to deliver a passionate, funny response, where he insisted his jokes weren't about 14-year-old Willow, but 18-year-old Bristol Palin, who just gave birth to a child out of wedlock. The Palins, by the way, refused his offer to bring them on the show for further discussion.
"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," Letterman said. "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…"
Unfortunately, Letterman's jokes never named which daughter he was talking about, and Willow was the one with her mother in New York City. (Willow is far left, Bristol is holding the baby).
If I were a betting man, I'd wager his writers goofed and assumed Bristol was the daughter accompanying her mother to New York when they wrote the jokes in the first place.
So, much as I admire how Letterman has exposed the hypocrisy of people like Sarah Palin in the past, and as much as I have cheered the way he's targeted powerful Republicans such as McCain, Palin, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush for their high profile dishonesty, I understand where the Palins are coming from on this one.
If I were Dave, I would have apologized for not making it clear that he was referring to Bristol, who is an adult, and not Willow, who is not. That said, I think the Palins are making the biggest mistake here; their aggressive response may play well with their hardcore fans, but adding this feud on top of open conflict with Newt Gingrich is liable to wear out their welcome with the general public quickly.
In the end, Letterman gets another landmark moment for his show days after beating the Tonight Show in the ratings for the first time in four years. There's a reason why this master is is closing on 30 years in the late night game.