Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called on the public to rise up in opposition over David Letterman's "degrading" jokes about her daughter this week. In a Friday morning television interview on NBC's "Today" show, Gov. Palin said the late-night comedian's remarks are a "sad commentary on where we are as a culture, as a society, to chuckle and laugh through comments such as he had made the other night, I think is quite unfortunate."
Letterman's explanation that he was referring to her 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, instead of her 14-year-old daughter, Willow, who accompanied her recently to New York, was met with derision by the governor. She called the remarks a "very convenient excuse" that took him a couple of days to present. "It was a degrading comment about a young woman. I would hope that people really start rising up and deciding it's not acceptable. No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in America when we think it's funny for a so-called comedian to get away with being able to make such a remark as he did and to think that that's acceptable," Palin said.
Wednesday, after two days of back and forth between Alaska's first family and the late-night talk show host, the Palins today refused Letterman's invitation to come on his show after he offered an apology for comments he made earlier in the week about the governor and her daughter.
Letterman's "Top 10" list Tuesday night focused on Palin's recent trip to New York, and included several cracks: "Bought makeup from Bloomingdale's to update her 'slutty flight attendant' look," Letterman said.
But it was a line in Letterman's monologue that set off a firestorm: "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
Palin was in New York with her 14-year-old daughter, Willow.
"The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman," PalinPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said Wednesday.
When NBC's Matt Lauer pressed Palin on the latter half of her spokeswoman's response "to keep Willow away" from Letterman, Palin said that was not in bad taste.
"I connect the dots to a degrading statement made about young women and that does contribute to some acceptance of abuse of young women," Palin said in defense of that statement before going on to explain that it can be interpreted in many ways.
"Take it however you want to take it. It is a comment that came from the heart that Willow, no doubt, would want to stay away after he made such a comment," she said.
In her interview, Palin said that Letterman does not owe her an apology.
"He doesn't have to apologize to me. I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for contributing to that thread that is throughout our culture that makes it sound like it's ok to talk about young girls that way."
Gov. Palin was apparently pleased to see women organizations speaking out against the comments and then proceeded to read from her BlackBerry an e-mail she received from someone she described as not a typical feminist. "Every male organization. . . should rise up and shout in defense of their daughters, their sisters, their mothers," Palin read to NBC's Lauer.
Palin also decried what she sees as a double standard being applied to her and her family both politically and in a broader social sense.
"First, remember in the campaign, Barack Obama said, 'Family's off limits. You don't talk about my family.'"
"And the candidate who must be obeyed, everybody adhered to that and they did leave his family alone. They haven't done that on the other side of the ticket and it has continued to this day so that's a political double standard."
Palin went on to describe a second double standard as the "acceptance of a celebrity being able to get away with a disparaging comment that does erode a young girl's self esteem and does contribute to some of the problems we have in society."
Of the current state of GOP infighting, Palin says she sees "a lot" of disagreement but doesn't believe her popularity and fundraising prowess somehow anoints her as the leading figure representing the future of the GOP.
"Absolutely not necessarily," Palin, who was the GOP vice presidential candidate in the 2008 election, told Lauer on "Today."
"So, no, not necessarily me. I don't think I need any kind of title in order to effect change. I think there's a lot of disagreement within the party right now, though," she said.
Lauer asked Palin if she should get the right of first refusal at leading the party forward.
"Oh, heck no. No. Nobody's entitled to that right of approval. There's no entitlement that's accepted, I believe, in our party and that's another nice thing about the principles of the GOP," Palin said.
"You have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Your actions have to speak louder than words. Your accomplishments have to speak for what it is that you stand for and no, nobody's entitled to any kind of front-running position in the GOP."