Flashbacks: Letterman Has Derided Sarah Palin Before (with videos)

With Sarah Palin condemning David Letterman's joke about her daughter, a look back at some of Letterman's previous hostility toward Palin after she emerged as the GOP's VP nominee -- as documented, with video, in previous NewsBusters posts.

Last September, Letterman sarcastically complained that if a President McCain “drops dead...don't you want your President to have had the presence of mind to have chatted to her teenaged kids for five minutes about birth control?” He soon sneered: “They don't sell Trojans in Alaska? Come on.” In October, without recognizing any irony given Barack Obama's inexperience, Letterman wondered if the nation can risk “a beginner in the passenger seat” and, in a sexist cheap shot, imitated Palin adjusting her hair during a 9/11 crisis as he impersonated her voice: “How's my hair?”

On Monday's show, Letterman's monologue included: “One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning her daughter was knocked-up by Alex Rodriguez.”

Palin put out a statement:

Laughter incited by sexually-perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands -- that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.
The 14-year-old Willow accompanied Palin to the game, but the Late Show says the joke was about 18-year-old Bristol who has given birth.

Monday's Late Show also featured the “Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to New York” with this entry: “Bought makeup from Bloomingdale's to update her 'slutty flight attendant' look.”

(In March, he insulted “this bonehead Rush Limbaugh,” ridiculing how Limbaugh's attire at CPAC made him look “like an Eastern European gangster.” Focusing on Limbaugh's physical appearance, he recited how Limbaugh's “got the black jacket on, the black silk shirt and it's unbuttoned, like, 'oh yeah, when you think Rush Limbaugh, you think ooh let's see a little flesh.'”)

My September 4 NewsBusters item, “'Dr. Phil' Chastises Letterman's Deriding of Palin's Parenting,” reported:

Guest “Dr. Phil” on Wednesday [September 3] night chastised David Letterman's misunderstanding of teenage sexual behavior and parental influence after Letterman sarcastically complained that if a President McCain “drops dead...don't you want your President to have had the presence of mind to have chatted to her teenaged kids for five minutes about birth control?” (Letterman delivered the same belittling joke the night before too.) Referring to Letterman's almost five-year-old son, daytime TV host Phil McGraw, aka “Dr. Phil,” informed Letterman: “If you are under the misapprehension that when Harry is 17 that you are going to have even a remote influence on what he decides in the back seat of a Chevy on a Saturday night -- I don't think old Dave's going to be popping in his mind at that point. It's not a 15-minute conversation. It's a dialogue that you need to have starting when he's about eight or nine.”

Undeterred from his contempt for Sarah Palin, Letterman asked: “Then why didn't they have the dialogue?” McGraw suggested: “Maybe they did. But when children get that age, at 17 -- see, here's the thing. The body's grown but the brain is not.” Letterman soon sneered: “They don't sell Trojans in Alaska? Come on,” prompting McGraw to point out: “Wasn't Barack's mother like 18 when he was born?” Indeed she was.
An October 4 NewsBusters post, “Letterman Upset Palin in 'Passenger Seat,' Mocks 'How's My Hair?'” recounted:
align="right'Perfectly encapsulating the coastal left's blind derision of Sarah Palin as an inexperienced “beginner” and thus unqualified, when the very same smart aleck cheap shots about her could be directed at the man with whom they have fallen in love, Barack Obama, David Letterman on Friday night [October 3] asked guest Brian Williams if the nation can risk “a beginner in the passenger seat” (what about in the driver's seat?) and, in a sexist cheap shot, imitated Palin adjusting her hair during a 9/11 crisis as he impersonated her voice: “How's my hair?” That led an uncomfortable Williams to lean back and sigh, prompting Letterman to acknowledge “that's unfair. I'm sorry.”
The March 3 NewsBusters post, “Letterman: 'Bonehead' Limbaugh Looks Like a 'Gangster,'” relayed:
On Monday's [March 2] Late Show, host David Letterman asked guest Katie Couric about “this bonehead Rush Limbaugh,” prompting Couric to plead: “Dave, don't do this to me, please! Don't do this to me.” But Letterman was just getting rolling with insults as he asserted Limbaugh's attire on Saturday at CPAC made him look “like an Eastern European gangster.” Focusing on Limbaugh's physical appearance, Letterman recited how Limbaugh's “got the black jacket on, the black silk shirt and it's unbuttoned, like, 'oh yeah, when you think Rush Limbaugh, you think ooh let's see a little flesh.'”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center