Letterman Tells McCain How Apology to Palin Went Wrong

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 12:21 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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David Letterman revealed during an interview with Sen. John McCain on "The Late Show" on Monday night that he screwed up his apology to Sarah Palin for making a crude joke about one of her daughters.

Letterman first asked whether the Republican Arizona senator was still in touch with the former Alaska governor, his presidential running mate in 2008. McCain said he had not seen her in months, but had called her the other day to wish her a happy birthday.

"She’s in Alaska raising her children, having a good life," he said. "Her husband is in the Iditarod."

The dog sled race ended early Tuesday and was won by Dallas Seavey.

Story continues below video.

Then Letterman told McCain how he’d once got himself "into a lot of trouble" with Palin. In 2009, he made a joke that one of Palin’s then-teenage daughters had been "knocked up" by New York Yankees baseball player Alex Rodriguez.

He was unaware that night that Palin was sitting at a Yankees game with her then14-year-old daughter Willow, which in light of the joke made it appear as if Willow were pregnant.

There was a huge public outcry, and Letterman made an apology on his show. He later apologized personally to the Palins, but it did not go well at first.

On his show Monday, Letterman said, "I had to apologize to Sarah and her entire family because I made this horrible joke. It was humiliating because I got myself in a position where there was no defense. I do that routinely."

"The night comes when I am supposed to apologize to her, her husband and her daughter, who was an innocent bystander in this whole thing, and I mistakenly called her daughter Shirley. And it wasn’t Shirley. And I had to do the whole thing again."

In 2009, Palin, who was then Alaska governor, accepted the apology, saying, "Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."

Her daughter Bristol had given birth in December 2008 to her son Tripp. The father of the child is Levi Johnston, her former fiancé.

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