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June 11, 2009

So full of crap: Wingers continue stupid attacks on Letterman

Background here.

So I see that conservatives continue to froth over David Letterman's "tasteless joke about the rape of Sarah Palin's 14-year-old daughter." I put that in quotes because it's their frame, not mine.

This is of a piece with their previous suggestion that then-candidate Obama was equating Palin with a pig when he suggested the Republican Party was "putting lipstick on a pig." The only way their frame makes any sense is if you abandon all reason and the rules of English and comedy.

Here's Letterman's joke:

Setup - Governor Sarah Palin had visited the new Yankees stadium for a game. "During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

It's not let's make sure he's dead..." funny, but Dane Cook has never said anything that funny. To me, it's a joke with two levers: First, Palin's got a daughter who did, in fact, get "knocked up." Second, Alex Rodriguez is seemingly dating every woman in New York these days.

Letterman's audience has no idea who is traveling with the governor of Alaska these days. They know only a few things about Palin: 1) She's governor of Alaska, 2) She was on the ticket with McCain, 3) She was in a beauty pageant, 4) She's got a child with Down's Syndrome, 5) Her husband does something professionally with a snowmobile, 6) She had a disastrous interview with Katie Couric, and 7) She's got a daughter who got pregnant in high school.

To assume that any talk-show comedian would make a joke about Palin that doesn't pivot on one of those 7 things is to intentionally delude oneself. It's perhaps not surprising that The Right is demagoguing this one; Letterman is, at least technically, part of the entertainment industry, but I think they attempt to paint him as a lefty at their own peril. The broad middle may hear that Letterman is on the Republican hit list and decide that it's not much of a party for them, either.

June 11, 2009 in Television | Permalink


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