June 15, 2009

Letterman apologizes to Palin

Late night host David Letterman apologized Monday for an offensive joke about the children of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, amid calls for CBS to fire him.

Palin slammed Letterman last week after he tried to get a laugh by saying New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnated the governor's teenage daughter when they recently attended a game at Yankee Stadium. Letterman explained he wasn't referring to the Republican former vice presidential nominee's 14-year-old daughter, Willow -- who was at the game with Palin -- but was instead poking fun at Palin's single-mom, 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, who was not at the game.

During the taping of Monday night's Late Show show in New York, Letterman said he wanted to apologize to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke.

He told his audience he had mixed up the two Palin daughters, The New York Times said Monday, and accepted responsibility for the mistake.

I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception, Letterman said.

New York State Assemblyman Brian Kolb is co-sponsor of a Web site calling for Letterman to be fired. The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News said the proprietors of FireDavidLetterman.com are organizing a rally Tuesday outside the New York theater where Letterman's is produced.

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, the Mercury News said Kolb wrote in a letter to CBS chief Les Moonves.

John Ziegler, a Los Angeles radio talk show host who helped establish the Web site, told the Los Angeles Times he was glad (Letterman has) acknowledged we're right.

I think it's a good first step in the right direction, but I don't think it's enough, he said.

Late Show with David Letterman is produced by Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants.

CBS executives said the network did not pressure Letterman to make the apology and said they'd seen no evidence the incident has had an impact on advertising for the show, The New York Times said. Embassy Suites Hotels has notified Palin supporters the company has dropped ads on the CBS Web site and disassociated itself from Letterman's comments, the newspaper said.