Score one for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Refusing to back down from her criticism of David Letterman for his joke about her 14-year-old daughter, Palin pushed and pushed the issue and Letterman finally caved. It's not something Letterman ever does. But Palin delivered on her longstanding warning that if her children are attacked, she'd fight like a grizzly bear. And the grizzly bear won (see video below).
"I was watching the Jim Lehrer 'Newshour,'" Letterman explained last night. "This commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, 'Oh, boy, now I'm beginning to understand what the problem is here. It's the perception rather than the intent.'
"It doesn't make any difference what my intent was, it's the perception," he said. "And as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it's not a very good joke."
He later said, "So I would like to apologize, especially 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. I'm sorry about it, and I'll try to do better in the future."
Also delivering on her word that she would accept an apology, she did. Quickly. Without hesitation.
"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve," Palin said in a statement.
"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's right to free speech - in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."
Of course at issue is the almost universally panned joke that Letterman told last week alleging that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez "knocked up" Palin's daughter Willow while she attended a Yankees game.
Letterman claimed the target was Palin's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol. And because she was of the legal age, the joke was appropriate. However, Bristol didn't attend a Yankees game. It was the 14-year-old who accompanied her Mom to the game.
Despite attempts to clarify what he meant last week, he never apologized. And the criticism grew louder and louder.
Although Palin has been the pinata du jour of the media since taking the public stage late last August, we've never seen Palin go on the offensive like she did in the last week.
She launched a media blitz blasting Letterman at every stop. Her refusal to back down prompted even the left-leaning National Organization of Women to join in against Letterman.
New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb called on CBS to fire Letterman for the "shockingly inappropriate" joke.
“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," he said.
Although there was plenty of criticism against criticism, perhaps the strongest -- not surprisingly -- came from the Palins themselves. Especially Willow's father, Todd.
“Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too.”
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