THG Commentary: Hate the Game, Not the Player

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Those that take issue with David Letterman mocking Bristol Palin need to hate the game, not the player.

Late-night talk shows exist for one reason: to make fun of those in the news.

Let's go back to 1995: One of Jay Leno's most famous skits was "The Dancing Itos." It was a comedy sketch that was based around lookalikes of those involved in the O.J. Simpson case, such as Judge Lance Ito.

Yes, Jay Leno made light of a double murder case. Not only was he never taken to task for it, audiences ate it up.

Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago, Conan O'Brien made this joke: "Sarah Palin is going to drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers' hockey game. Then, Palin will spend the rest of the game trying to keep the players out of her daughter's penalty box."

That is FAR more offensive than anything Letterman said, as it uses a pejorative term for "vagina" and it doesn't mention Eliot Spitzer or Alex Rodriguez, the two men that were equally at the forefront of Dave's jabs.

But did Palin utter a word about it? Of course not. O'Brien only aired at 12:30 a.m. at the time. His ratings were puny.

Here's a way to kill a few hours: go search the Internet for jokes made at the expense of Jamie Lynn Spears and Miley Cyrus over the past couple of years on late-night television.

The point is simple: talk show hosts make fun of celebrities.

Bristol Palin is a celebrity; not because her mother ran for a political office, but because her mother approved of her appearance on the cover of People.

Sorry, but the moment Bristol's face appeared on the front of the world's leading tabloid, Gov. Palin could no longer claim that her family's private world was being invaded. She has chosen a public life for herself and her children and must live with it.

This is also why Palin's claim of a double standard does not hold any merit.

In her interview with Matt Lauer, the governor said everyone respects President Obama's pleas to leave his family alone, but the same standard does not hold for her.

This is a laughable comparison.

Sasha and Malia Obama are 7 and 10 years old, respectively. Let us assure any doubters out there: if either of them gets caught with a fake ID, drives drunk or gets pregnant as a teenager, every late-night host will be overflowing with jokes.

In the meantime, they are going to school every day and looking adorable. Mock away, comedians!

Overall, it's fine for Palin to mention in an interview that she thinks Letterman made an inappropriate reference. Dave himself has not denied this.

But - like she did with her reference to Barack Obama "paling around with terrorists," like she did with her reference to Democrats wanting to "wave the white flag of surrender" in Iraq - the governor has stepped overboard.

Sarah Palin simply isn't articulate or intelligent enough to make a coherent point.

Therefore, she resorts to attention-grabbing words and implications; in this case, actually impugning David Letterman for being a pedophile or a rapist.

Letterman would be the first to say that he isn't a saint. He's a comedian that sometimes makes distasteful jokes for the sake of a laugh. Like ALL comedians do.

Question his standards sometimes, Governor Palin and supporters, but also check his record. Never, over the course of a 27-year career, has he been accused of anything resembling the charges you've drummed up.

However, days after 9/11, he delivered as heartfelt a tribute as anyone on television mustered at the tragic time.

We don't mean to exploit it, but it's stuck with us for years and it's well worth viewing. It's appalling that Sarah Palin would take a few words uttered by a clearly thoughtful, compassionate man - one that has entertained millions for decades with his brand of humor, whether she wishes to respect that or not - and turn them into such an ugly incident, all in the name of fortifying her political base.

Then again, it's also not unexpected.

Whose side are you on!?

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David Letterman Biography

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David Letterman hosts our favorite late-night talk show. His top 10 lists are always good for a laugh. In the summer of 2009, he got into... More »
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