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The Evolving Apologia of David Letterman: Late night star eventually apologizes to Sarah Palin June 28, 2009

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After initially rejecting the calls for an apology after joking about Sarah Palin’s fourteen year old daughter having sex with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, David Letterman faced a major protest for his actions. By June 15th, a website called FireDavidLetterman.com was organizing a rally outside Letterman’s theater, and included the contact information for the show’s sponsors so that offended viewers could file complaints. Letterman eventually offered a clearer apology for his jokes, and clarified that he had no intent to target the fourteen year old and that the joke was simply indefensible. Palin approved of the apology, and indicated that she would forgive the comedian.

For more on this saga, see the following videos. The first is Letterman’s initial attempt to shrug off the criticism. The second his is more direct apology. The third is a segment from a television news show explaining why some people were offended by the joke.

Discussion Questions:

1.  Was Letterman’s joke really offensive? If so, why? If not, why were people overreacting?

2.  Why was Letterman’s first statement ineffective at calming the storm of protests?

3.  Was Letterman’s second apology effective?  How did his strategy in the second differ from his strategy in the earlier statement?

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