June 17, 2009

David Letterman is a tool, but...

He's apologized to Sarah Palin and her family twice now for his uncouth attack on her daughter, whichever one he 'really' meant to attack. He took ownership of the mistake. He seems contrite. David Letterman is still a tool.

While his words were morally reprehensible, he's more a tool of the Democratic party than a tool as a human being. He's a liberal, and thinks conservatives are fair game while liberals seem to be off limits.


he does have the right to say stupid and vulgar stuff. What he said was not an FCC violation.

Does he deserve to lose his job? Well, those who are demanding his resignation do have the right to speak their minds as well. I don't know if he deserves to be fired. Maybe. Perhaps he's learned his lesson and really is sorry for what he did. Maybe not.

Don Imus last year got in trouble for comments and was fired for it. He offended African Americans and women and was lambasted for it by the likes of Reverend Al Sharpton. There is no weighting of one offense versus another. But Don Imus apologized and was contrite as well. He's back at work.

Free Speech - it's in the Constitution. By that logic, Letterman is free to speak offensively. Then again, while it's not in the Constitution, actions have consequences, and words matter. If there are enough protests and he loses his job over it, then it's what the natural consequences are for his off-color comments.

Either way, David Letterman has learned, or needs to learn, that some things are beyond the pale. He needs to remember that he's an entertainer, not a political speaker. He needs to remember to keep his personal political bias aside when coming up with jokes. He needs to remember to stick to Stupid Pet Tricks and the like. If he can't remember those things, then he needs to move on, even if it requires a nudge.

From a personal perspective, I dislike Letterman's politics, I think he can be funny at times, and I don't think he needs to be fired because he realized his mistake, took ownership and apologized sincerely - even if it took 2 tries to get it right. Maybe I'm just a softy.


  1. I think CBS gets to decide whether or not to fire him. But it's perfectly OK for a large group of people to communicate that they were offended and don't intend to patronize the advertisers on his show.

    I do get a kick out of phrases like "took ownership of" and "took responsibility" for the cracks. This sort of spin is really amusing -- it's his show, he said it -- HE OWNS IT!

    There is no need for him to take responsibility.

    And while apologizing is the right thing to do, it really doesn't change his action. We live in a society that seems to think you can act like a jerk and then "apologize" -- then everything goes back to normal. It might be a better world if people realized that they were accountable for what they said and did.

    This is just the latest in a long line of mean-spirited political attacks from a guy that I have enjoyed watching for 20 years. But until he says that Michelle looks like a hooker or that Malia should get nailed by a rapper -- he's not a comedian, he's doing political commentary.

  2. Dick,

    I agree with your assessment, particularly the first paragraph. And yes, Letterman does own it. Of course he owns it. By 'taking ownership' I simply meant that he was addressing a problem his words had created. But he's now facing the consequences of his words. He could have chosen to ignore the situation. It would have been foolish, but he could have avoided dealing with it altogether.

    It can be viewed as self-serving for him to apologize because the protests could have really started to gain traction. That's his decision to make though, regardless of motivation.

    While I personally found the comments very distasteful and his political leanings not to my liking, I think the free market - viewership and ratings - should guide CBS' decsion to fire or keep Dave.

    Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with your notion that taking ownership BEFORE saying something is highly preferable to an apology afterwards.

    Thanks for the post.


Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

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