Letterman Owes Palin a Thank-You

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Whether David Letterman owes an apology to Sarah Palin for joking about her daughter or not, he sure should send her and her conservative comrades one big thank-you.

The Letterman-Palin tussle has been under way since the late-night comic cracked that Palin’s daughter got “knocked up” by A-Rod on a recent trip to New York City. He also said that Palin had to keep her daughter away from Elliot Spitzer. Since then, conservatives have been demanding Letterman’s head. Todd Palin accused him of joking about rape. Michelle Malkin has branded Letterman a misogynist and called for CBS to get him a therapist. Team Sarah, a conservative outfit that fancies Palin, has pushed for boycotting Letterman’s advertisers. (“The continual presence of personal attacks on both Governor Sarah Palin and her family indicates that she remains a threat to the liberal political establishment,” huffed Team Sarah cofounder Jane Abraham.) And on Friday morning’s Today Show, Sarah Palin said Letterman ought to apologize to young women across the country. (Letterman offered a jokey explanation, not an apology, after the Palins first complained.)

But Palin and Letterman are helping each other. Earlier this week, Palin was in the news for not being invited to a GOP fundraiser. She also made headlines for not being named one of the GOP’s leaders in a USA Today/Gallup poll. How’s that for lousy press? Now she’s getting attention as a defender of young women and the victim of liberal elitism. And taking on Letterman is a lot easier than talking about health care policy.

But Letterman got the better deal. These days he likely cares about one thing and one thing alone: beating Conan. Last week, Conan O’Brien took over The Tonight Show at NBC, which once spurned Letterman for this late-night throne. Surely, Letterman must relish the prospect of grinding O’Brien into the ratings dust. And a brawl with Palin can only help when it comes to ratings. Palin is doing Letterman a big favor by keeping the story alive–and by doing so on an NBC show. Folks in TV-land will now have to tune in for another Letterman riposte. Surely, the comic-host can milk his smackdown with Palin for another show or two…or three.

Meanwhile, what’s Conan O’Brien to do? Start a feud with Rosie or Donald? Nah, too retro. Perhaps Michelle Obama ought to watch out.

You can follow David Corn’s postings and media appearances via Twitter by clicking here.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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