June 15, 2009 -- After a week of controversy over what he's calling a "bad joke," David Letterman today directly apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family.
"The joke, really, in and of itself, can't be defended," Letterman said, in taping tonight's "Late Show with David Letterman," per the AP.
"I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke," Letterman said. "It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault that it was misunderstood."
He apologized to Palin's oldest daughter -- at whom he said the joke was directed, "and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke," he said. "I'm sorry about it, and I'll try to do better in the future.
"I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception," he said, and claimed full responsibility for his comments.
Two weeks ago, on his program, Letterman joked about the governor's recent trip to New York: "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
The joke seemed directed at Palin's 18-year-old daughter Bristol, who is an unwed mother. However, it was Palin's 14-year-old daughter, Willow, who accompanied the governor to New York.
Letterman later explained he had indeed confused the two daughters and had Bristol in mind when he made the joke, but Gov. Palin interpreted it as directed at Willow.
Palin 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." Wednesday, after two days of back and forth between Alaska's first family and the late-night talk show host, the Palins 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.
Palin spoke out against Letterman's comments on NBC's "Today" show, and called upon the public to rise up in opposition. Supporters have called for Letterman's firing, even starting a website, www.firedavidletterman.com.