For Those Awaiting Letterman's Apology to Palin: Don't Hold Your Breath

Bristol or Willow: Did he go too far?
Bristol or Willow: Did he go too far? (John Paul Filo - AP)
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By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 13, 2009

Don Imus apologized.

Mel Gibson apologized. So did Michael Richards and the Greaseman (didn't do much good).

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. And it's far short of what Palin says she wants.

"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. If he does have any thoughts about issuing a mea culpa on the air, it won't come until next week. The Letterman show that aired last night was taped earlier in the week, CBS said, before the Palin spat erupted.

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