Green Room

Hey, How About We Accept David Letterman’s Apology?

posted at 8:50 am on June 16, 2009 by

Since I’m being congratulated on both the left and the left for starting the ball rolling on this — I can’t take all the credit, guys, but thanks for the high praise — it’s probably expected of me to give a public response to Letterman’s apology last night.

He did the right thing.

He gave an apology in which he actually apologized to the specific people he wronged. Which, to some observers, is apparently optional. I don’t think it is, nor does anyone else who’s honest enough to admit what the word “apology” means, so I’m glad he specifically included an expression of regret for his actions.

And he named the wronged parties, particularly Willow and Bristol Palin. That’s the main thing. Whether he intended it or not, he hurt a kid whose only crime was going to a baseball game, and her older sister, whose only crime was having a child out of wedlock just like David Letterman. Well, that’s putting aside the unforgivable crime of being born to Sarah Palin.

He said he was sorry, and he didn’t play it for laughs (mostly). It might be a week late, but he did finally swallow his considerable pride and say it. And it only took half as long as the last “apology,” maybe because he didn’t yet again read off the jokes that got him in trouble in the first place and wait for the audience to applaud him for it.

Some people are focusing on his demurral that his intent didn’t match the public’s perception. But keep in mind, he then immediately said it didn’t matter, and nobody’s to blame for what happened but him. Basically, he was saying, “I didn’t mean it the way it came out, but the results are still my fault.” I would have liked him to explain how he and his staff were interested enough in a state governor who lost the last election to track her movements, but too lazy to make sure that their cruel slur against her daughter was actually directed at the correct one. But he did say that he honestly had no idea Willow was at that game. He should’ve said so to begin with, but at least he finally realized how important that part was.

I’m not saying I’m suddenly a Letterman fan again, but we need to accept his apology. Sarah has, and good for her. She was right to call him out on his phony apology, and she’s right to accept his real one.

Now maybe she can accept his invitation and take her message to Letterman’s audience. Maybe if he meets her face-to-face, he’ll realize she and her family are actual human beings and not just props in his game of Bash the Evil Conservatives to Keep Up with Stewart and Colbert. Heck, he might even listen to what she has to say. He might realize she has something to say.

And if she gets in a few zingers at his expense, as is her due, you can bet he’ll go out of his way to be gracious about it.

Well, a promise is a promise, so now that he’s said pretty much what I and many others demanded he say: David Letterman does not think raping little girls is funny.

P.S. I hope some can accept those of us who accept the apology.

P.P.S. To the people who are comparing this to the Imus debacle: Do what you want, but I have no interest in emulating Al Sharpton. He demands an apology and then, when it’s given, turns it down as insufficiently sincere. Most un-Christianlike behavior for a purported man of God. It might be an effective way to browbeat somebody into shutting up, but I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.

(Crossposted to jimtreacher.com)

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Well stated.

Snowed In on June 16, 2009 at 9:01 AM

nah..

not good enough for me.

Speech is free.. and has consequences.

It’s a lesson Letterman is going to learn the hard way.

DaveC on June 16, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Hear, hear! Well said. I’ll likely never be a fan of his again. But he lost me quite some time ago. So I’ve lost nothing there. I thought his apology had all the right ingredients. But, I also KNOW, as we all do, he would NOT be swallowing “his considerable pride” if it weren’t for the hue and cry we all sent up, and you were like the Grand Master of the Bandwagon! So thanks for that, Treach!

Minorcan Maven on June 16, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me Letterman said that if he had only mentioned Bristol by name in the joke, the joke would have been fine. In his eyes, his only crime was allowing the “perception” that the joke referred to Willow. And then he mentions Bristol by name in the apology, but what is he apologizing to her for? He’s not apologizing for insulting her in the joke, because he’s already said the only problem with the joke is the perception that it referred to Willow. Is he apologizing to Bristol for not making it clear the joke was about her? Whatever.

mbs on June 16, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Screw him. I`m doing what Al Sharpton does. Imus said he was sorry and he got fired anyway. Not good enough. I am continuing faxing CBS advertisers and intend to go an protest outside the Sullivan theater today.

The progressives have changed the rulebook. I intend to give them back their Alinsky garbage. Pick a target and freeze it baby. I`m over it. He isn`t sorry. The boycott is working. Embassy Suites cancelled their advertising. On to J&J, Kellogs and Olive Garden. The truth be told the Hillary PUMA Democrats engineered this whole thing. They showed us conservatives how to do it. They ain`t quitting and neither am I.

Jayrae on June 16, 2009 at 9:50 AM

It’s not up to me to say whether or not the apology is sufficient. That choice is entirely up to Gov. Palin and she has accepted. That’s enough for me.

Having said that, I have no problems with the Conservative Lesbian’s battle to get Dave fired. She mentioned that that was the difference between Democrats (which she used to be) and Republicans. GOPers typically have lives and move on to more important things, while Democrats will worry little bones like this until they get results. She thinks that maybe, just maybe, the GOP should play the type of hardball that Democrats usually play. Get results just once and the left might think twice before engaging in crap like this.

Physics Geek on June 16, 2009 at 9:57 AM

“…but we need to accept his apology.”

Pffffft, er no.

moonsbreath on June 16, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Screw him. I`m doing what Al Sharpton does.

Jayrae on June 16, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Well, at least you’re honest enough to admit it.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 10:04 AM

I agree with mbs. What Letterman said is the same as saying: “I’m sorry what I said made you so angry.”
.
There’s no acknowledgment of fault except in how the words are received. Whether they are hateful or perfectly innocent depends only on the person who hears them and chooses how to receive them.
.
Ultimately it’s for the best that Sarah chooses to accept his apology. But it doesn’t mean his snide, self-affirming word-games should not be pointed out at least.

Matushka on June 16, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Confirmed: Treacher is a wuss.

promachus on June 16, 2009 at 10:13 AM

promachus on June 16, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Go jump in a lake. He did what I said he should do. If you can’t accept that the principle of the thing is enough, maybe this will assuage your bloodlust a bit: Palin has been vindicated, and Letterman’s massive ego has taken an even more massive hit.

But if you want to keep waving your torch and/or pitchfork, don’t let me stop you.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Palin understands the value of choosing her battles. When Letterman smeared her daughters, she fought him with passion. She indicated earlier that she would accept an apology if one was offered- When Dave offered an (admittedly imperfect) apology, she accepted it (while noting a few pointed items in her own statement.)

She could refuse to let it go, but that would be fulfilling the “she’s just a whiner with a victim mentality” meme.

Though I’ll restate what I said in another thread- I think she should stay off his show. She can get viewers/attention from many other sources, and Letterman would get the greater benefit if Palin went on his show. Not worth it to her, IMO.

cs89 on June 16, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Palin has had her say. Now we will have ours.

Fire Lecherman.

promachus on June 16, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Confirmed: Treacher is a wuss.

promachus on June 16, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Whoa. Easy there, buddy. I see no reason to start name-calling just because we disagree with one of our own (and make no mistake, I disagree).

This thing will fizzle out, but it’s kind of difficult for me to believe that it should.

Screw him. I`m doing what Al Sharpton does.

Jayrae on June 16, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Refreshing honesty, indeed. But tell me Jim, where does this pathological conservative need come from, to prove that “we’re better than that?” We’ll take the high ground, only to get pushed off and find ourselves rolling down the hill.

gryphon202 on June 16, 2009 at 10:39 AM

But tell me Jim, where does this pathological conservative need come from, to prove that “we’re better than that?”

It’s called principles.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM

To sum up what I’ve said in the blog threads:

Palin: classy, fought back like she should have, and graciously accepting an apology without vindicating the joke. In other words, she forgave the sinner, not the sin.

Letterman: told 3 offensive stupid jokes, gave a BS apology, got scared stiff by thread of money/job loss and gave a real apology.

I’m willing to let it go because as it stands it’s a complete win for Palin, and Letterman (eventually) did the right thing.

I won’t begrudge others for not letting it go, but I’d love to see this end only so Palin can get more credit for billion dollar pipeline deals, etc.

DrAllecon on June 16, 2009 at 10:52 AM

That of course should have read “threat” not “thread”

DrAllecon on June 16, 2009 at 10:54 AM

We can forgive, but should never forget

scottm on June 16, 2009 at 10:57 AM

It’s called principles.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Well thanks for clarifying; I’m still not sure that standing on this principle advances the conservative cause, but this beef is between Sarah Palin and David Letterman, I guess…won’t do me any good to stay upset about it, and won’t do anyone else any good either, much as it pains me to admit.

gryphon202 on June 16, 2009 at 11:07 AM

I’m not particularly interested in “advancing the conservative cause,” whatever that is. He said something awful about a little girl to strike at her mom, and he’s apologized to them for it. It’s not about politics, it’s about simple human decency.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:12 AM

I’ll accept his phony apologies when he starts telling tasteless, classless jokes about Democrats’ kids, including the most famous political children, the Obama daughters.

Until then, no dice.

I’m against the boycott and demand for his firing, but in no way does Letterman deserve to be forgiven.

It’s nice that Sarah Palin did the politically correct political move and “accepted his apology”, and it’s nice that you think the rest of us should be politically correct and accept it too. However, any man who calls a woman slutty-looking simply because she is attractive and implies her daughter a whore, even in jest, would never be forgiven by any woman who was not a politician. And I bet Sarah and Todd Palin still don’t forgive him. She’s being gracious because she has to in order to maintain her stature as a politician. This is a distraction for her and she got rid of it by just publicly making a statement to “accept his apology” so she could move on. She took the opportunity to highlight how his joke should be unacceptable (just like Obama used the Imus joke as an opportunity to highlight that being unacceptable) and now is moving on.

But I don’t for one second believe she and Todd have accepted this fraud of an apology.

Case in point:

Boyfriend: Wow that outfit makes you look like a slutty flight attendant.
Girlfriend: What!?
Boyfriend: Oh, come on, it was just a joke.
(1 week later, after phone calls, e-mails and texts not returned)
Boyfriend: Okay, okay, I’m sorry. My intention was not to call you a slut, but I’m sorry you perceived it that way.

Yeah, anyone think that girl is going to just accept that apology? Not on your life.

And if any guy joked about a woman’s daughter getting knocked up by a baseball player, simply because he knew the woman’s daughter was a single mother? You think there is anything he could say to be forgiven? Not a chance.

So this “accepting his apology” nonsense is simply political. If you want to accept it, Jim, that is your business. But some of the rest of us are not going to accept this kind of tasteless, crass, sexist crap being called acceptable in our society.

Now, if it was equal opportunity tasteless, crass, sexist crap, that is one thing. But we all know that Letterman — and the rest of his ilk in the mass media and on the Left — are telling these jokes not to be objectively funny, but to smear, humiliate and demonize people they do not like. It’s not about making a joke about an easy target. Obama is an easy target and they don’t joke about him. So these jokes are told with hate and anger and malice, not with being objective.

If you want to let that go, Jim and accept an “apology” he gave, not because he’s sincere, but because his bosses and advertisers pressured him into it, that’s fine. But I am all in favor of keeping the pressure on him, calling him out as the mean, sexist POS that he is and then advocating that people stop watching him.

There is absolutely no reason beyond political to accept either of his “apologies”. Had any man made these jokes about any woman and her daughter, I have to believe that 99% of warm-blooded people would kick the living crap out of that man and never accept any half-assed “apology”. So nothing gets changed, simply because Letterman happens to be a “celebrity”.

Michael in MI on June 16, 2009 at 11:16 AM

It’s not about politics, it’s about simple human decency.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Right. Now personalize this Jim. Had some schmuck called your wife slutty-looking and insinuated your daughter was a whore, then laughed it off when you were offended and then only a week later, when you threatened him with punishment in some way (exposing him to him employer, exposing him to his family, meeting him in a dark alley for a lesson in simple human decency), he gave a half-assed apology, you’re telling me all would be forgiven?

You really must have a much higher tolerance for BS than most people, because I would never forgive someone for insults like that to my family. If they did like Letterman did and gave a half-assed “apology” to deter me from being the sh** out of them? I’d hold off on the beating, but I wouldn’t forgive them. I’d simply tell them “you’ve exposed yourself as an a-hole, good to know, now get lost and I never want to see you again in my life.”

And speaking of simple human decency, how does this teach a lesson to people of Letterman’s ilk? If we want simple human decency, I would think we’d want people of Letterman’s ilk showing it as well. Accepting his half-assed apology just tells him and the rest of his ilk that they can say tasteless, sexist crap like that and completely get away with it, with no repercussions. We have set the precedent that they can think “last time I told a tasteless joke, all I had to do was give a half-assed apology and those stupid, pushover right-wingers moved on”.

Michael in MI on June 16, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Um … Treach … buddy. We weren’t wronged. Hence it makes no sense to suggest that “we” (conservatives as a whole, I guess?) accept his apology. Palin and her kids were wronged. Her relationship with ol’ Dave is her business.

Those of us watching will simply note his actions and come to our own conclusions about the man’s character. (Personally, I think he’s a dirtbag, but that’s sort of par for TV hosts isn’t it?) Seems simple enough. Turning grievance into political kabuki is kinda silly, don’t you think? I guess that’s sort of at everybody on this “should we or shouldn’t we accept his apology” debate. The whole premise of the question is flawed.

We can’t accept an apology for someone else. We can only make a judgment call on the man. Some will look at what he did, others will look at how he responded to criticism for what he did. I know what I find the more telling.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Um … Treach … buddy. We weren’t wronged.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Even if you don’t have kids, presumably you were one yourself. Do I really need to explain the concept of principles?

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:42 AM

I like the way this has played out.

Governor Palin has won her first total victory over the left. With the support she got (albeit begrudgingly) from the National Organization for Women and even Joy Freaking Behar (ditto), Palin has raised her profile as a strong, determined leader and a cultural force to be reckoned with, not just laughed at and brushed off.

This is a shot across the bow of any person who thinks Palin is nothing more than an irrelevant punching bag to be held up as an example of unsophisticated, rural conservatism. As I detailed last week, the news media’s unprecedented embrace of Tina Fey’s malicious impersonation and the entertainment media’s reluctance to create satire targeting Obama shows how humor has been appropriated as a partisan weapon. But now, when Palin is the target, both her critics and their audiences will remember Letterman’s capitulation at virtual populist gunpoint just as much as they remember Fey’s brazen disrespect.

As long as Palin continues making progress toward the promised pipeline and doesn’t make any major missteps in Alaska, this might be the moment at which we can look back and say she changed the way she is perceived by all Americans for good.

L.N. Smithee on June 16, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Even if you don’t have kids, presumably you were one yourself. Do I really need to explain the concept of principles?

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Do I really need to explain the concept of apologies?

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 11:50 AM

This is kind of a “Trust, But Verify” situation. Take Letterman at his word, but keep the DVR going in the future, to make sure he doesn’t fall back to his past ways once he thinks the media spotlight is shining elsewhere (and message to Dave — Just because Keith Olbermann does it, doesn’t mean you have to do it too, unless you want to end up like Dan Rather with some partisan comedy show up in the 600 digital channel tier that nobody watches).

jon1979 on June 16, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Do I really need to explain the concept of apologies?

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 11:50 AM

Maybe you should, because I don’t see your point.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:54 AM

Turning grievance into political kabuki is kinda silly, don’t you think?

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 11:34 AM

This would make sense, I guess, if that was what I’m doing. I’m pointing out that he hurt a child, inadvertently or not, and he’s finally apologized to her. I’ve been yelling at him to do that, and he’s done it, so now I’m going to stop yelling. Not sure what’s so confusing about that.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:12 PM

He demands an apology and then, when it’s given, turns it down as insufficiently sincere. Most un-Christianlike behavior for a purported man of God. It might be an effective way to browbeat somebody into shutting up, but I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.

Wow, really? Because I have expressed an opinion about that weak tea “apology” that it’s insincere and too excuse-laden to be a real apology you’re comparing me to serial race-baiter/profiteer Sharpton?

Laura on June 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Maybe you should, because I don’t see your point.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 11:54 AM

I don’t think anyone but Sarah and her family were actually wronged. You may take offense but that’s ultimately your choice because the issue isn’t about you. You may have principles that Dave violated but I don’t see how they’re relevant. After all, not everybody will share your principles and it’s silly to expect them to apologize for failing to do so.

Yeah, he gave one of those broad spectrum “I apologize to everyone I offended” apologies. I don’t care. I think they’re moronic. I don’t think Dave has the capacity to feel remorse at “offending” so many people. He didn’t care when he made the joke and he knows how big his audience is.

People are pissed for two reasons. First, they’re just taking up ought for Sarah since they like her and her kids. Bad idea, for a number of reasons.

Second, they see themselves as wronged because, well, they like kids and you shouldn’t make bad jokes about kids! Um. Yeah. That’s stupid. We make jokes about all sorts of broad categories – some of them taboo. *gasp* And yet this one gets to be sacrosanct somehow? It all smacks of adopting grievance culture, and I’m not into it. It reduces apologies to being utterly meaningless. They’re freely given these days – especially the aforementioned broad spectrum variety.

So yeah. Report it. Make your call about Dave. Then let it drop – his apology to the Palins is their concern. His apology to everyone else is meaningless and debating whether or not “we” (whoever that happens to be) should accept it is an exercise in futility.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Laura on June 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM

What are you doing differently?

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:19 PM

So yeah. Report it. Make your call about Dave. Then let it drop – his apology to the Palins is their concern. His apology to everyone else is meaningless and debating whether or not “we” (whoever that happens to be) should accept it is an exercise in futility.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 12:17 PM

I don’t get how that’s any different than what I just said, but your advice has been noted.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:20 PM

I agree with you Jim, thank you. It’s not our place to keep harping on a guy who didn’t wrong us personally, and the person he did wrong forgave. If the Republican party is really as Christian as the Dems think we are, we would all forgive. It’s up to God to decide whether Letterman’s apology was sincere… not up to us. Remember that the measure we mete will also be used to measure us and also, for us it is required to forgive all men. That doesn’t mean you have to watch his show or anything, but at least forgive.

Those who aren’t Christian, well, it’s still ridiculous to harp on this once the person actually wronged has accepted the apology. It makes the party look petty.

Christina D on June 16, 2009 at 12:21 PM

I just switched off Rush in frustration for the moment because he continues not to get it about the joke, saying that it wouldn’t have been funny about any woman.

That’s not true. If Paris Hilton had been the target, it would have been kinda funny, because Hilton has a reputation for being a hard-partying tramp going back nearly a decade, and the married A-Rod has been documented to have partied with strippers on the road. So what did Bristol Palin do that made her the target of that kind of barb? Having a child out of wedlock? Uh, your lovely new wife and the mother of your son did that too, Dave, and so did millions of other people in your audience who don’t hate Palin with a passion.

On top of that, Letterman didn’t seem to care that some thought he was referring to Willow in last Monday’s A-Rod joke referring to “her daughter,” and threw in the Spitzer joke the following night. Combine that with his reference to Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look” in Monday’s Top Ten list, and you can see where Dave and his writers’ heads are at: “Palin’s a bimbo and a slut, and so is/are her daughter(s). Ha ha!”

It just occurred to me that perhaps Letterman doesn’t have any female writers. I know Madeleine Smithberg left Letterman to preside over the revamped Daily Show with then-forgotten Jon Stewart (who was then best known for his short-lived show made from the ashes of The Arsenio Hall Show) and won an Emmy and a Peabody.

L.N. Smithee on June 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM

This would make sense, I guess, if that was what I’m doing. I’m pointing out that he hurt a child, inadvertently or not, and he’s finally apologized to her. I’ve been yelling at him to do that, and he’s done it, so now I’m going to stop yelling. Not sure what’s so confusing about that.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:12 PM

I guess I’m taking issue with how the debate is framed. “Accept or don’t accept the apology.” It strikes me as phony. It annoys me when the left does it and it annoys me when we do it.

Yes, we’re all terribly offended at something someone said about another person’s kid. Sure. Let’s just say I don’t think that that standard is being uniformly applied. It’s part people taking offense too easily and part annoyance at phony apologies that cheapen the act of apologizing. I don’t think we really mean it, and I don’t think Dave does either, but we’re going to go through this dance over it anyway … because we have to, I guess.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Merrill Markoe was his head writer for years. A few years back she wrote an, ahem, totally fictional account of a TV writer and her abusive relationship with a comedy star.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Did you actually read past the headline?

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Luke 17:3

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

fronclynne on June 16, 2009 at 12:29 PM

First, I’m not looking for profit or revenge. Second, if I were convinced it was an apology I’d have gladly accepted it. It’s not unChristian or bullying behavior to engage in critical thinking. I laid out the reasons why I don’t believe it’s either an apology or sincere. You disagree, fine… but you seem to be saying that assessing someone’s sincerity is beyond the pale. Except, you know, when you assess mine; I’m not merely expressing an opinion, I’m engaging in unChristian, browbeating behavior.

Laura on June 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Laura on June 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Fair enough. Best of luck.

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Good post, Jim. I like to see it when one of us Conservatives shows what mature, composed adults act like, able to forgive and move on. Far too many who label themselves as Christians on the Right appear to care more about their own politics and grievances than they do acting out their Christianity and treating others decently first before any other consideration, which reflects badly both on the Right and on their claims of Christianity.

Bizarro No. 1 on June 16, 2009 at 12:43 PM

I look at Letterman as the school bully usually surrounded by their goons. Letterman’s goons are his left leaning New York audience each night who laugh and clap at anything. The only way he will ever change is if the nutroots in their tinfoil hats stop laughing and as long as he makes jokes at the expense of conservatives that is not about to happen. Can you just imagine what would have happened to him if he had put on that show, the first apology and the one last night before a true Red State audience. It would have been for me a blessing, and a show we would soon not forget, plus a message to all the kool aid drinkers that were not going to take it anymore. He is a bully and he is never going to change and like all bullys they can dish it out but they can’t take it so in MHOP don’t forgive him keep piling it on!

amex on June 16, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Laura, Al Sharpton prob didn’t find Imus’ apology sincere either. So again, how are you different from Sharpton? Both of you demanded apologies, and when given, still deemed them phony and not enough.

Palin Steele on June 16, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Did you actually read past the headline?

Jim Treacher on June 16, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Yeah. And?

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 16, 2009 at 12:45 PM

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