Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Palin-Letterman Privacy Pox

The Great Cultural Divide has split wider open with the Queen of Low-Rent Resentment and the Sultan of Snark in open warfare, leaving those who still hope for rational public discourse waiting for it all to go away so we can talk about boring subjects like health care reform and saving the economy.

Yet somewhere between Sarah Palin's aggressive anti-elitism and David Letterman's snidely assumed superiority, there is an issue beyond the need of politicians and media figures to keep calling attention to themselves--questions of privacy and boundaries,

Letterman critics are crying foul with claims of child abuse and misogyny in his joke about Palin's daughter and A-Rod, but is hanging the appropriate penalty for bad taste (see Imus, nappy-headed ho's), as a New York lawmaker insists in a letter to CBS?

Such posturing aside (the Late Show host is about to sign a new three-year deal for an estimated $90 million plus), the more interesting question is about the lengths to which Gov. Palin herself is willing to exploit her children for political gain, going so far as to willfully distort Letterman's admittedly bad joke about her 18-year-old daughter into one about a 14-year-old.

Fake outrage is a time-honored political ploy, but the Palin family is breaking new ground here, as they did at the Republican convention last year by having the high-school stud who impregnated the older girl smiling and waving at the TV cameras and then, after the baby was born, exchanging public insults with him for reneging on his promise to marry her and cashing in on the fame they handed him with TV interviews of his own.

This upward spiral of trading privacy for political gain is so dizzying that it's possible to be offended by Letterman's bad taste while feeling the object of it is dragging American politics to new lows.

Now can we talk about serious matters like Stephen Colbert's haircut in Iraq and guest-editing an issue of Newsweek?

1 comment:

Eduardo said...

I don't get it. Would you want someone making derogatory remarks of sexual nature about your 14 year old daughter on TV? Or even your 18 year old daughter?

Letterman was wrong. His behavior crossed the line and is inexcuasable.