NBC host Matt Lauer interviewed Sarah Palin on June 12, and defended comedian David Letterman and his joke about the statutory rape of Palin’s daughter by baseball player Alex Rodriguez.
When Palin began to condemn the joke as wildly inappropriate and offensive, Lauer defended Letterman: “Since David Letterman’s not here, let me just say that he did not mention Willow by name, and he then went on to say he was not referring to your 14-year-old daughter,” as though to Lauer the excuse diminished the vile nature of Letterman’s joke.
At the end of the segment, Lauer did admit that, “a lot of people feel the joke was in extremely bad taste, no matter which daughter of yours he was referring to,” but not before Palin pointed out that, “regardless, it was a degrading comment about a young woman,” and no joke of that nature should be tolerated, no matter how old the victim of the joke is.
Lauer noted, “At the end of your statement you said that ‘a joke like this contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.’ Now, it was a joke. It was probably by most standards in bad taste.”
Leave aside the question of by which standards it was in good taste, Lauer the T.V. star feigned ignorance of the media’s influence on America’s culture when he asked Palin, “But can you really connect the dots to criminal activity the way you did in that statement?”
But Lauer was not done defending Letterman. Palin issued a statement refusing to appear on Letterman’s show stating, “it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.” Lauer asked, “Are you suggesting that David Letterman can't be trusted around a 14-year-old girl ...Well is that not perhaps in bad taste also, governor? If you're, you know, suggesting that a 62-year-old man couldn't be trusted?”
So Lauer equated a disgusting sexual joke about a young woman with Palin’s statement, and then forced a mother to defend herself for wanting to protect her young daughter from a man who insulted and humiliated her with the joke.
That’s “extremely bad taste.”