Fire David Letterman Event to Proceed Despite Apology

Update: David Letterman issued another, more apologetic apology today. which prompted me to contact one of the organizers of the “Fire David Letterman” campaign, John Ziegler, to see if they still planned to carry out the event.  I’m not sure if I got John’s subtle inference, you tell me: (via email)


Are you still putting this on despite the apology?

John Ziegler:

Gotcha! Leno Told Statutory Rape Joke, Too!


There’s a new, inevitable twist in the David Letterman-Gate joke scandal. Alan Colmes notes that Dave’s late-night rival, Jay Leno, told his own underage Palin daughter sex joke during the campaign: (h/t HuffPo)

On September 2, during the presidentia campaingn, Jay Leno told this joke:

“Gov. Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. And you thought John Edwards was in trouble before! Now he has really done it.” — “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Both Colmes and HuffPo wonder if there’s some kind of double-standard being applied here. The answer to that is yes. And no. Or, “We’ll see.”

Let me start by saying that “double standard” arguments don’t impress me. Left or right, deal with your own dirt. Pointing the finger at what the other guy did just says that you need your opponent to set your own moral compass.

Now, as I’ve said before, hanging Letterman’s words on the left is a huge reach, as is hanging Leno’s on the right. That said, let’s examine the comparison anyway.

The jokes themselves are, indeed, similar. While the construction of Letterman’s joke was more crass, they both cross the same line. Although Letterman doesn’t cop to the mistake being his own fault, he clearly thought he was making a joke about Bristol, not Willow. In the details, each joke has its own distinct flavor of bile.

Colmes wonders “why did Jay Leno’s joke go by largely unnoticed, while Sarah Palin is doing a national publicity tour denouncing David Letterman?”

The answer is that it shouldn’t have, but here’s why it did. Leno’s joke came amid a hurricane of coverage of Sarah Palin and her family. There were lots of bigger fish in the frying pan, both substantive and not . This joke should have stood out, and If I had heard it, I would have been all over it.

So, the Leno joke slipped by. I guess we’ll see, now, if there’s a double-standard being applied, since Leno’s joke is now being placed in context with Letterman’s. Meghan McCain, in her excoriation of Letterman, had this to say of Leno:

During the election, one of the things I never got over being shocked by was the sexism the media held toward my mother and Sarah. I recently read an interview in GQ magazine with Jay Leno where he credited some of his success to never letting the public know where his politics lay. I have always respected that about Jay Leno. I have absolutely no idea how he feels about Sarah Palin or President Obama personally, and at the end of the day I don’t care. He was always respectful toward me and my family even in the jokes (and he has in the past directed some at me personally during his monologue).

Now that Leno’s joke has been brought to light, I wonder if it will change her opinion of Leno, or Letterman, for that matter. I’ve also often wondered what Meg said to her dad when she found out about his Chelsea Clinton joke, another item that’s been coming up lately.

It makes little difference to me. I don’t need “the right” to tell me Letterman was wrong, and the fact that Leno did pretty much the same thing doesn’t lessen the offense one bit. I also don’t need the Leno example to know that the reaction of some on the right is an overreach.

There’s also the matter of the left trying to deflect Letterman’s issue with old Chelsea Clinton jokes. Again, no sale, as this only serves to enhance the false notion that David Letterman is somehow representative of liberal political thought.

So, what happens to Letterman? Well, my friend John Ziegler is involved in an effort to have Dave fired. I don’t think that’s going to happen, nor do I think it should. John equates this to the Don Imus firing, and I agree that Letterman’s offense is at least as great. I just don’t think Imus should have been fired, either. I think firing, in both cases, shifts public attention away from the central issue and onto the firings.

A better move would be for Sarah Palin to accept Letterman’s invitation, on one condition. Sarah Palin appears on The Late Show as guest host, and Letterman takes the night off. Then, Palin can spend that hour however she wants, including trying to explain how the media ought to treat women. Hell, I would definitely watch that.

Speaking of Ziegler, as I was going through my old Palin articles, I found something I wrote on the very day that her nomination was announced that I think John would get a big kick out of:

(T)he Brian Williams’ and Katie Courics of the world will play a big part in how well this works. Let’s see which side of the bed they woke up on this morning.


  1. Not impressed with Palin.
    A bachelors in jounalism?
    John, nobody needs to ‘target’ Palin. She invites it.

    Do you really think she’s intelligent? Or is that not improtant for leadership?
    Apparently she’s not smart enough to refrain from completely ridiculous ENUENDO that Letterman may be a physical danger to Willow?
    That is sensationism at it’s worst.
    Sarah belongs on the Springer show, not in the whitehouse.
    Get real.

  2. If Sarah will carry on like this about a stupid comedian, how do you think she’d react to Iran and Korean threats?
    No thanks

  3. Exactly.

  4. I don’t know who wants to stay in the limelight more, Palin or Ziegler.

    I got nothing nice to say about either, and I have already had my say on them on the other article about this.

  5. Howdy fellow bloggers.
    We have a decision.
    Put Palin and Zeiglar on the BillO the clown show.
    Three ‘Bold pieces of humanity’.

  6. Michelle and PCL, I would visit your blogs but you don’t seem to have live links.
    You are more than welcome to comment where I contribute, anytime.
    we have a pretty lively and prolific bunch.

  7. LOL! Hell throw Hannity in there too, and ya got four wheels of one of the many garbage trucks that is driving the GOP to the dump.

  8. Do you think Letterman knows Zeiglar?
    If so, does he care?

    Amy Goodman does real reporting, and she also has been handcuffed and roughed up.
    I prefer Goodman.

  9. Don’t have a blog–YET! I’m in the process of working on a joint one now, it should be up, hopefully, by next week. We would love to have you stop by sekanblogger–I will be posting the blogsite when it’s up.

  10. I think Ziegler thinks Letterman knows Ziegler–and that’s all he needs. Ziegler is pathetic, IMHO.

  11. is anybody really paying attention to this supposed controversy,
    or is it just kept alive in soundbites between commercials.
    this is gonna fade faster than a star from american idol.

  12. […] apology hasn’t yet quieted the calls for his firing, as Tommy Christopher noted last night after its announcement.  The boss was unimpressed, as was Laura in our Green […]

  13. PCL, I will look for you. I like to faeture new bloggers at my spot.
    Anytime I do this, the blog I feature immediatly gets a spike in traffic.
    If you stop by the prariepoulistsandprogressives, there’s always an open thread.
    And always friendly and chatty folks there, ready for instant interaction!
    Tell em sekan sent you. They’ll fawn all over ya’!

  14. Louis, your live link goes no where. Are you REALLY A 404?
    Being a 404 is not a good thing you know.
    That’s computer geek sarcasm for being an idiot.
    Being called a user and a 404 is bad.

  15. “…There’s also the matter of the left trying to deflect Letterman’s issue with old Chelsea Clinton jokes. Again, no sale, as this only serves to enhance the false notion that David Letterman is somehow representative of liberal political thought.”

    Significant too that those defending Letterman have to go back 17 years to find a similar example of a conservative making a crass joke about a liberal politician’s child. Kudos to Jamie, that most have been quite a research project looking trough the Bush-Gore and Bush-Kerry campaigns news record and not finding anything as offensive.

  16. And I don’t figure out why the past is irrelevent?
    In a court of law, union negotiations, military tribunals, grand juries, practically every judging or governing body I can think of….this is the first thing they look at to support their side of each issue!

  17. Also, the pool of Democrats’ kids to make fun of was decidedly dry between Chelsea and the present day.

  18. […] apology hasn’t yet quieted the calls for his firing, as Tommy Christopher noted last night after its announcement.  The boss was unimpressed, as was Laura in our Green […]

  19. Tommy….no kidden’!
    Ya cain’t lampoon what ain’t there.

    My take on the subject

  21. and letterman’s ratings are up.
    so the joke works.

  22. […] John Ziegler Disputes Huffington Post Report HuffPo has a write-up, and some video, from yesterday’s “Fire David Letterman” rally.  They don’t paint a pretty picture, with a crowd estimate of 15 protesters […]

  23. […] Secrecy creep in action – Glenn Greenwald, Salon Iran update – Josh Marshall, TalkingPointsMemo Fire Letterman event to proceed – Tommy Christopher, Daily Dose Distance by Obama: Iran and Israel – M. Goldfarb, Weekly Standard […]

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