David Letterman finally officially apologized to Gov. Sarah Palin tonight after he told some off color jokes about her and her daughter last week during a “Late Night with David Letterman” monologue.
“I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke,” he said. “It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault that it was misunderstood,” Letterman said.
He apologized to both daughters, “and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke,” he said as the studio audience applauded. “I’m sorry about it, and I’ll try to do better in the future.”
Dave could have fixed this early last week, but it’s clear he didn’t understand the importance of the issue and how it his “joke” was perceived by millions of people. Fact is, millions of people love Sarah Palin, and they take her seriously as a future conservative leader. Liberals fear her, and so they ridicule her and denegrate her family at every opportunity. They fear her because of the power she has to motivate and inspire people.
I think Dave apologized because a suit at CBS told him they’d had enough. Ratings through controversy works for a couple of days, but then things have to return to normal, or else the train derails. Upper management at Black Rock let this run its course hoping things would settle down by last Friday. When it didn’t, they had to give Dave the message. Presto! Apologee time.
So, what will this do for Letterman? I think he’s wounded, and this event might just signal an early retirement for him. After all, he’s been on television for decades, and his rough edged comedy lost its edge years ago. These days, Dave’s show highlights how unhip he’s become. His age is showing and he looks like he’s tired of the whole game most of the time. His ratings haven’t improved significantly in a long time. He’s lost the college crowd he commanded back at NBC.
I think Letterman really wanted to be the next Johnny Carson, and he might have been able to succeed at that if he would have kept the same comedy formula from the NBC years. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He got comfortable at CBS, and that was that. No one will ever be as good as Carson, and it’s too late for Letterman to try.
So, it’s ok Dave. We give you permission to hang it up. Take a year or so to make your exit, but do it. It’s time.
Still More: Here’s the video.