My Palin-Letterman blog post was revised and made into a column for Night & Day. Here is that updated story.
The Sarah Palin-David Letterman feud finally seems to be near an end, which is great for those of us who are sick of hearing about it. That could soon take Palin out of the spotlight she seemed to crave.
In case you missed it, Alaska governor Palin stirred up some controversy last week by calling out Letterman over a joke he made on his CBS late night show. The joke revolved around Palin’s daughter, whom Letterman did not name, getting “knocked up” by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez while attending a Yankees game.
The joke, Letterman said, was targeted at Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol, who is an unwed mother. Problem is, Palin’s other daughter, 14-year-old Willow, was the one who attended the game.
Letterman apologized, kind of, the day after making the joke, saying he’d “never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it’s funny.”
OK, that should be that, right? I mean, late-night hosts make jokes all the time; that’s what they do, and it’s their constitutional right to do so. She promptly showed up on NBC’s “Today” show to proclaim, “It’s no wonder girls have such low self-esteem in America when a comedian can make a remark like this.” She demanded that Letterman “apologize to young women” everywhere, saying it was “a degrading comment.”
She refused Letterman’s invitation to appear on his show and clear the air, though, instead releasing a statement through her spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton: “The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”
First of all, signing off on that final comment is in equally bad taste. Even if Letterman was guilty of bad taste (I don’t know either way), though, it’s humor. Get over it, lady. Go back to Juneau and deal with whatever issue’s bugging the polar bears this week.
Her party has also hopped on the publicity bandwagon. New York Assembly minority leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua wrote a letter to CBS demanding that the network to fire Letterman over the comments. “Firing Mr. Letterman would send a clear message that CBS will not tolerate any of its employees — even an established media figure like Mr. Letterman — making demeaning and degrading comments about women,” he wrote.
Ladies and gentlemen, our tax dollars at work.
And talk about hypocrisy. Where was Kolb’s outrage when NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” made fun of Gov. David Paterson — a Democrat — for being blind?
Letterman went the extra mile Monday, making a full apology for the episode and saying that it was his responsibility that the joke was misinterpreted. Palin accepted the apology, but it was her attempt to grab publicity by making it an issue that led to any of this happening.
I accuse these people of trying to grab attention. I could be wrong. I’m sure, on some level, they believe their actions are just, and as a parent I can’t completely fault Palin for standing up for her daughter (who didn’t need defending, but still). Even so, it was a joke, and she could have the same effect by calling Letterman privately and complaining. From the instant this hit the press, her outrage seemed ingenuine.
If I got so disturbed every time someone made fun of my speed on the basepaths at the company softball game, I’d be a permanent crying mess balled up in the corner saturated in self-pity.
You have to see humor for what it is sometimes, and accept that if you’re in the public eye, you’re open to having shots taken at you from time to time.
But then again, standing up for one’s family sure looks good come presidential nomination time.