NEW YORK (AP) - Sarah Palin says David Letterman owes an apology
to young women across the country for his joke about her daughter.
The Alaska governor appeared on NBC's "Today" show Friday,
continuing a feud with the CBS "Late Show" funnyman over his joke
earlier this week that Palin's daughter got "knocked up" by New
York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez during their recent trip
to New York.
Palin also said she doesn't believe she should be automatically
considered the front-runner for the Republican presidential
nomination in 2012.
Asked by Matt Lauer whether Letterman owed her daughter an
apology, the former vice presidential candidate broadened it.
"I would like to see him apologize to young women across the
country for contributing to kind of that thread that is throughout
our culture that makes it sound like it is OK to talk about young
girls in that way, where it's kind of OK, accepted and funny to
talk about statutory rape," she said. "It's not cool. It's not
Letterman has said his joke was about Palin's 18-year-old
daughter Bristol, who is an unwed mother (no name was used).
Problem was, the Alaska governor was traveling with 14-year-old
Willow. Palin said it took Letterman time to think of the
"convenient excuse" that he was talking about Bristol instead of
Letterman said on his show Wednesday that he would "never, ever
make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a
14-year-old girl." He said he was guilty of poor taste.
Palin said Friday that it was time for people to rise up against
Letterman's form of humor.
"No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in
America when we think it's funny for a so-called comedian to get
away with such a remark as he did," she said. "I don't think
The National Organization for Women placed Letterman in its
"media hall of shame."
"I think what David Letterman said is terrible, is
inappropriate and nobody should be making jokes about the sexual
activities of teenagers, whether they are the daughters of
politicians or not," said Kim Gandy, NOW president.
"Comedians in search of a laugh should really know better than
to snicker about men having sex with teenage girls or young women
half their age," NOW wrote on its Web site. Rodriguez is 33;
Letterman is 62.
Palin said there was a double standard where the media treats
President Barack Obama's family as generally off-limits, while her
family was the butt of jokes during last fall's presidential
campaign and beyond.
She's a favorite target of Letterman's. The "Late Show" host
made 95 jokes about Palin after the election through March 15 -
more than Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
combined, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Palin denied that it was also in bad taste for her spokeswoman,
Meghan Stapleton, to say Thursday that Palin would not appear on
Letterman's "Late Show" because "it would be wise to keep Willow
away from David Letterman."
"Maybe he couldn't be trusted because Willow has had enough of
this type of comments and maybe Willow would want to react to him
in a way that maybe would catch him off-guard," she said. "That's
one way to interpret such a comment."
The controversy may wind up giving both Palin and Letterman
attention at a time both could use it. Palin is considered a
potential future candidate for national office, and standing up for
her family could make her a hero to her fans. She was asked on
"Today" whether last year's candidacy effectively puts her in the
position of front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in
2012 and replied, "Oh, heck no."
Letterman is in the second week of his new competition with
NBC's O'Brien, and won by a solid margin Thursday night in Nielsen
Media Research's overnight ratings measurement of the nation's top
media markets. Letterman has a strong shot at beating the
"Tonight" show for a week in these ratings for the first time
On his show Thursday, Letterman joked that Palin had called to
invite him on a hunting trip - the punch line no doubt a reference
to former Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shooting a friend
His other references to the controversy were more oblique. When
guest Denzel Washington said he would get in trouble with Obama for
making a joke about the president's big ears, Letterman clearly had
something else on his mind.
"You aren't in the kind of trouble I'm in," he said.
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