David Letterman has never been one to take back anything he’s ever said. His jokes can hit below the belt but that has always been part of their charm. His recent joke about Sarah Palin’s daughter’s getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez was funny enough if you’re someone who likes laughing at the Palin clan.
Unfortunately, the whole incident was blown way out of proportion, giving rabid and disgruntled people a chance to launch an attack on the “liberal media.” Not for nothing, I’ll take David Letterman’s jokes in bad taste over Ann Coulter’s any day of the week. At least Letterman’s are funny.
Nonetheless, Letterman was forced to apologize or else face heat from the advertisers, who are facing heat from the consumers. There was also a small but well-covered protest outside CBS studios putting yet more heat on Letterman. The Palins turned it into a PR opportunity, a way to wipe off some of the scum left on Sarah Palin’s failed attempt at the Vice Presidency.
Letterman stopped the whole thing cold when he apologized in a more sincere way than he’d done earlier. To that, Palin said, “on behalf of all young women, like my daughters, who hope men who `joke’ about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve.”
“Evolve” is a funny choice of words from a candidate who took heat for not believing in the teaching of evolution in schools (she retracted that accusation during the election, however). Palin easily won this round, having her 14 year-old daughter used as the victim, even though everyone knows that the older sister, Bristol, who did get knocked up as a teenager, was, arguably, the one who was sexually exploited.
Who are we kidding? No one was sexually exploited here. The younger kid wasn’t, Bristol wasn’t, Palin wasn’t. But it was a great way for Palin to show that she’s a pit bull who will not back down when comedians take cheap shots at her family. It was the kind of joke Bill Maher could get away with but not Letterman, not with corporate dollars at stake. This is CBS, after all. The same studio that pressured 60 Minutes to bury the Jeffrey Wigand tobacco scandal.
Maher would relish the joke and has been making one zinger after another at the expense of the Palin clan. But Letterman was smacked down and he apologized. It was, in the end, probably the right thing to do. What he jokes about did not warrant stubborn refusal. Bristol Palin has probably paid a high enough price for having gotten “knocked up” and subsequently had her child. She’s been plain-spoken about how the abstinence her mother promotes isn’t an effective method of birth control and she expressed regret for her decision to have a baby so young.
Who can really blame Sarah Palin for going after Letterman? What she can be blamed for, and her husband as well, is using the moment to gain publicity and to exaggerate it beyond comprehension – suddenly Letterman was advocating child rape!
What this week proved was corporate news is as alive and well as Sarah Palin’s next political campaign.