Letterman Palin Jokes Cross the Line
Still, Palin’s a public figure and a grown-up. Jokes about Palin’s 14-year-old daughter being “knocked up by Alex Rodriguez”?
Way over the line. Even if the butt of the jokes was Alex Rodriguez. Kids are off limits. Period. Whether it’s Amy Carter, Chelsea Clinton, or the Obama girls, the extent of the commentary permissible is how cute, sweet, adorable, precious, and clever they are. ( If they aren’t cute, you’re not allowed to say so. If you think they’re hot now that they’re grown up, I suppose that’s fine.)
Adult children of politicians who have become public figures by virtue of going into politics themselves or actively campaigning on the issues, like Mary Cheney? Fair game. The Bush girls off at college? Borderline. Minor children? See above.
That said, I stop well short of going where same in the blogosphere have gone. Letterman’s a decent fellow. He’s not a pervert. He’s been doing monologues for a national television audience for thirty years and has a very solid reputation as a professional and as a human being. It was just a bad joke that crossed a line. But he should apologize and show a little better editorial judgment from now on.
UPDATE: Letterman apologizes. Or clarifies. Or, well, something:
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.
Making fun of Britol’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy is still rather tasteless. She’s a technical adult and has taken steps that make her a public figure. But still. As AllahPundit puts it, “He’d never condone statutorily raping a girl who’s underage. All he meant to do was goof on the idea that Palin’s eldest daughter, a single mother with a baby, is a whore.” (Given that no discussion of money being transacted was involved, I think “slut” is the operative word.)
Here’s a video of the whole clip:
A good line: “There are thousands of jokes I regret telling on this program.”