The apology was delivered during the program, after the opening stand-up monologue and during the desk segment. The full text of the apology is posted on the Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog. Here's the pertinent part of it:
“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “– thank you.
Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)
Sometimes it takes a while for understanding to sink in. I don't doubt the sincerity of the apology. However, it was also announced that Embassy Suites pulled their advertising from the CBS website (they weren't a sponsor of the show itself). So undoubtedly someone from the CBS brain trust pulled Letterman aside and pointed this out. Update: Hellman's/Best Foods also announced their intent to pull their ads.
However, the apology is not quite good enough for John Ziegler, a talk show host on Los Angeles' KGIL radio. Ziegler, who started the FireDavidLetterman website and who is also a creator of the film "Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted", said it was a good first step, but more is required. Other options in his opinion are a suspension and/or firing, but what he appears most interested in is for Letterman to contribute to a charity of Governor Palin's choice. Two good choices might be Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) or perhaps Palin's own legal defense fund. Meanwhile, their Fire David Letterman Rally scheduled for June 16th at 4:30 PM in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater at 1697 Broadway in New York City is still on as of this post.
By the way, Conservatives4Palin honcho R.A. Mansour, who to my surprise is a woman, discussed this issue on both the Dan Fagan show and the Eddie Burke show on June 15th. YouTube clips of both appearances embedded HERE. I heard the Fagan appearance, and Mansour held her own pretty well (the insufferable Val called in during her segment). C4P's also running a grassroots web-a-thon to retire Governor Palin's $500,000 legal debt through June 22nd; after just one day, they've collected $54,645.
Analysis: It would have been nice if Letterman had at least been suspended without pay for one week. This would have put it on a more equal basis with Don Imus' punishment, as well as that of local talk show hosts Eddie Burke and Woody & Wilcox, both of whom were previously suspended for on-the-air political incorrectness. Nevertheless, we finally got the apology we wanted, which means all the activism has now fulfilled its purpose. Consequently, if Letterman does donate to a charity of Palin's choice, it may be wise to consider the issue settled and move on. Continuing the activism against Letterman would simply trigger an undeserved sympathy bump for this aging, superannuated comic whose jokes got boring and corny years ago.
Update June 16th: Conservatives4Palin notes that Governor Palin has chosen to accept Letterman's apology, and has posted her acceptance on Facebook. Well done!