From The Washington Post:
Politicians do it all the time. Shock jocks, actors and athletes do. Even Bill O’Reilly has done it.
So why can’t David Letterman bring himself to apologize?
In another one of those delicious, you-know-you-love-it-even-as-you-roll-your-eyes media flaps, Letterman has been fending off an aggrieved Sarah Palin after she took offense at several of his late-night cracks.
Palin didn’t rise to the bait when Letterman derided the Alaska governor’s “slutty flight attendant look” on Monday’s show. But she did object when Letterman, satirizing the Palin family’s visit to New York and a Yankees game, said: “There was one awkward moment during the seventh inning stretch. Her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”
Tasteless? Well, everyone seems to agree about that. Beyond that, you’ll get an argument.
After Palin deemed the “knocked up” line “a sexually perverted comment” aimed at the family’s 14-year-old daughter, Willow, Letterman issued a clarification of sorts, saying he was referring to 18-year-old Bristol Palin, who is an unwed mother. “I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl,” he said on the air, but conceded that the line was “an act of desperation.”
But that’s not exactly an apology, not even the weaselly “If anyone was offended by my remarks, I’m sorry . . .” variety.
“He doesn’t have to apologize to me,” she told host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show yesterday morning. “I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for contributing to that kind of . . . that thread that is throughout our culture that makes it sound like it’s okay to talk about young girls in that way, where it’s kind of okay, accepted and funny to talk to about statutory rape. It’s not cool, it’s not funny.”
For good measure, Palin also got off a blast at the media for their “double standard” in shielding the children of President Obama (“the candidate who must be obeyed”) from attention, but not her own.
Letterman’s camp gave no indications yesterday that it intended to respond.
Letterman shouldn’t apologize, if only to preserve the comedian’s prerogative to satirize the powerful and to be offensive on occasion, says Erin Jackson, a rising local stand-up comic.
Unlike racially charged comments that brought Imus, [Mel] Gibson, [Michael] Richards and Doug “Greaseman” Tracht low, Letterman’s joke is milder and doesn’t rise to a career-threatening level, says Ken Sunshine, a veteran New York public-relations executive. Which means, Sunshine says, that the pressure on Letterman to apologize publicly is low.
“Letterman is a master of this, and he’s milking it for all it’s worth,” Sunshine said, citing similar ratings-boosting “feuds” that Letterman has engaged in with McCain and Oprah Winfrey. “But people often underestimate [Palin] and underestimate her following. She’s exploiting this very smartly. She’s speaking to her core base that feels maligned. She’s playing the faux feminist . . . and the family-values representative. It’s extraordinary that she can bring this off.”
“Poor Mitt Romney,” he adds. “He’s probably wondering, ‘Where do I get some of this?’ “
Let’s examine Princess Sarah’s concern for women and girls who are victims of rape or sexual assault. From THE HUFFINGTON POST September 11, 2008:
The Palin rape kit billing controversy has made its way from OfftheBus to CNN. In her story on the controversy, CNN’s Jessica Yellin claimed to have found no evidence in city records that Sarah Palin was aware that sexual assault victims were being billed for forensic testing. However, recently released budget documents show that Sarah Palin directly shifted the cost of the rape kits from the police department to the victims in her budget for fiscal year 2000.
It is a fact that under Sarah Palin’s administration, Wasilla cut funds that had previously paid for the medical exams and began charging victims or their health insurers the $500 to $1200 fees.
Irl Stambaugh [was] police chief of Wasilla from the founding of the department until Sarah Palin fired him for “not fully supporting her efforts to govern.” Stambaugh sued for breach of contract, but lost when a federal judge ruled that “police chiefs serve at the behest of the mayor unless otherwise specified.” He later served as the executive director of the Alaska Police Standards Council.
It turns out that Wasilla did not bill sexual assault victims for the cost of rape exams while Irl Stambaugh was chief of police. As chief, he had included a line item in the budget to pay for the cost of such exams. He had only just heard about the Mayor Palin/Chief Fannon policy today, and was just as shocked to hear about it as I was.
And, by the way, while Princess Sarah is expressing her faux outrage over nasty old David Letterman, this is what’s going on in her state. From abc News, September 15, 2008:
Evangelicals and social conservatives have embraced McCain’s vice presidential pick for what they call her “pro-family,” “pro-woman” values. But in Alaska, critics say Gov. Sarah Palin has not addressed the rampant sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and murder that make her state one of the most dangerous places in the country for women and children.
Alaska leads the nation in reported forcible rapes per capita, according to the FBI, with a rate two and a half times the national average – a ranking it has held for many years. Children are no safer: Public safety experts believe that the prevalence of rape and sexual assault of minors in Alaska makes the state’s record one of the worst in the U.S. And while solid statistics on domestic violence are hard to come by, most – including Gov. Palin – agree it is an “epidemic.”
Despite the governor’s pro-family image, public safety experts and advocates for women and children struggled when asked to explain how Palin’s leadership has helped address the crisis. And current and former officials from Palin’s administration confirmed that an ambitious plan to tackle the crisis has apparently sunk into doldrums after arriving at the governor’s office.
“She’s really done a lot of work on oil and gas, but when it comes to violence against women and children. . . we haven’t been on her radar as a priority,” said Peggy Brown, executive director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Maybe some late night hosts can do a couple of jokes about domestic violence or slather a couple of victims in oil in order to get the governor’s attention.