Palin accepts Letterman apology, protest goes on

LOS ANGELES Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:54pm EDT

Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) speaks during a Plenary Session at the 2008 Republican Governors Association Annual Conference in Miami November 13, 2008. REUTERS/Hans Deryk

Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) speaks during a Plenary Session at the 2008 Republican Governors Association Annual Conference in Miami November 13, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Hans Deryk

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accepted late-night TV host David Letterman's apology over a sexually charged joke about her teenage daughter, but it was not enough to stop a protest outside the comedian's studio on Tuesday.

"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve," Palin said in a statement late on Monday night.

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction," she said.

On the occasion of a Palin trip to New York, Letterman joked on June 8 that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez had "knocked up" Palin's daughter during a family trip to a baseball game. The comedian apologized for the joke on his show broadcast on Monday night.

Letterman has said the joke's intended target was Palin's daughter Bristol, an 18-year-old unwed mother, but Palin and others have said it was aimed at her younger daughter, 14-year-old Willow, who was at the baseball game in New York.

In his apology, Letterman said the joke was "beyond flawed" and apologized to Palin and both her daughters.

Still, more than a dozen protesters held up banners outside Letterman's Times Square studio as Tuesday's show was being taped, but they were outnumbered by spectators and media.

Several said they found Letterman's comments degrading to women. Protest organizer and Los Angeles radio host John Ziegler of firedavidletterman.com said Letterman's apology was not enough and Letterman should donate his salary from last week to a charity of Palin's choice.

But some spectators said Palin and the protesters had lost their sense of humor. "He made a joke, what is America coming to?" said spectator Bailey Wallace, 17.

Palin last year was the vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, running alongside Arizona Sen. John McCain.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis In Los Angeles and Christine Kearney in New York: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)