Sarah Palin ratcheted up the rhetorical feud between her and “so-called comedian” David Letterman when she told the "Today" show’s Matt Lauer that men and women need to rise up against the "Late Show" host.
Palin's plea came a day after Letterman apologized -- sort of -- for a joke about Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez "knocking up" her daughter during the seventh inning stretch of the game the Palins attended.
"The comment that was made about statutory rape against my 14-year-old daughter Willow crossed the line," Palin said. “I think it’s a sad commentary on where we are as a culture as a society that people chuckle and laugh through commentary such as that. No wonder girls have such low self-esteem.”
“I think it’s time people start rising up against comments like these,” Palin said.
On Wednesday's show Letterman said his joke was aimed at another Palin daughter, Bristol, 18, who was not at the game. The comic invited the Palins to appear on his show, but the Alaska governor's family declined -- with prejudice.
“The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show,” said Palin
Spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton. “Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”
When Lauer questioned Palin as to the tastefulness of that response, which implied that Letterman may be a pedophile, Palin hedged.
“Take it however you want,” Palin said with a trademark wink. “I don’t think it was in bad taste. I think Willow would no doubt want to stay away from David Letterman.”
When Lauer pressed, asking Palin if it was fair to characterize a tasteless joke as the threat of a criminal act, Palin said the joke contributes to the acceptance of abuse of young women. But the Alaska governor doesn’t want a personal apology from Letterman.
“He doesn’t have to apologize to me,” Palin said. “I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country."
It’s doubtful that Letterman will issue any sweeping apologies to the women of America, especially when his ratings are taking off in the wake of all the news coverage. The Late Show host was still milking the bit on Thursday night.
“I’m Dave Letterman, making friends wherever I go,” Letterman said at the opening of Thursday’s show.
Then he joked that things are fine now between him and Palin because the Alaska governor called and offered to take him hunting, which is not at all true.
The kerfuffle between the comedian and the politician began with a different joke among Letterman’s Sarah Palin themed Top-10 list Monday that referred to the Alaska governor as a "slutty flight attendant.'
Palin responded to that joke on the "Today" show as well.
“My first though was don’t disparage flight attendants,” Palin said.
Despite her ire, the comments have a benefit for Palin, a presumptive presidential candidate for 2012. The incident keeps her in the public eye in a manner likely to draw sympathy from supporters. It also puts Letterman in the news in an extremely fortuitous time. It’s the second week of his battle for eyeballs with O’Brien and it couldn’t be closer.
In an overnight measurement of the nation’s biggest media markets, O’Brien beat Letterman by one-tenth of a ratings point on Wednesday, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the same slim margin on Monday, and with Julia Roberts as a guest on Tuesday, Letterman beat O’Brien — the first night CBS has beaten NBC since last October.
In Nielsen’s metered markets, Letterman hasn’t beaten the “Tonight” show for a week since November 2005.