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Letterman Pulled a Katie Couric

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Over on another State-Run Media network, the David Letterman show last night, Letterman apologized to Sarah Palin. It was a real apology, but it was also couched in this continuing excuse that he thought he was talking about an 18-year-old, not a 14-year-old. The bottom line here is the joke's inappropriate whether the age of the woman is 14, 18, or 40. But he goes on, we've got tape of the apology and I think everybody is missing what happened here. I gave the Drive-Bys, I gave State-Run Media a week head start on this, and they still don't get it. All Letterman did was pull a Katie Couric. He did what Katie Couric did. She was desperate for attention, her ratings were plummeting, and they have plummeted now to an all-time low for the CBS Evening News, she got Sarah Palin on, and remember that interview ignited everybody because she supposedly embarrassed Sarah Palin, one of the worst interviews Palin had done, her star rose, Katie got an award after that. She made fun of Sarah Palin.

Now, here comes Letterman, the same week that Conan O'Brien is starting to take over for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show so you've got Conan O'Brien replacing Jay, you've got media bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz. Everybody asking, how is Conan going to do? Bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz. How is Conan going to rate against Jay? Bzz bzz bzz bzz. How is Conan going to rate against Dave? Bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz. Now, the formerly original David Letterman stole a tactic from the Couric playbook: If you need liberal attention, if you need the attention of the State-Run Media, make fun of Sarah Palin. Just pull a Katie Couric. He got away with it for five days, news flashes, split screens, expert opinions, debates on State-Run Media. Letterman was everywhere. He got exactly what he wanted out of this. I didn't track his ratings, I don't know how much they improved. Conan continually plummeted for a while which is natural. Was it just a joke? The bottom line was this whole Letterman thing just a joke? Remember, now, this was a written joke in the afternoon. It was put together; it was intended; it was not a stream of consciousness comment that wasn't written on a cue card or a teleprompter.

So now did he mean Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, did he mean her 14-year-old, is Sarah's family fair game, are only Republicans members fair game, conservatives too sensitive, all this. And then you had people out there defending Letterman. They're the ones thrown under the bus today. But you had a bunch of leftists defending what Letterman did. Then enough people, after five days of this, got disgusted enough with this joke which was not joke, there was no truth in it, so it's not funny. But Dave in the end got what Katie Couric did not get. Katie did not get a trip to the woodshed. Dave did. Don't tell me that this thing was arrived at on his own. You've got people, I'm sure, that are bombarding CBS management with complaints about this. (interruption) Well, yeah, I think they do care. I've met Les Moonves. It didn't go away. It kept simmering out there. But whether or not there was pressure on Letterman from higher-ups, the bottom line is he got what he wanted out of it. He pulled a Katie Couric.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Jacksonville, Florida. This is Anaheim, nice to have you on the program. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, sir. Hello there, Rushbo.

RUSH: Hi.

CALLER: Super intelligent one, hyper-intelligent one, how did you not parse Mr. Letterman's remarks yesterday? Listen carefully. He said -- and it was just a joke, and I just read it, and I'm sorry that it was a bit out of line, and I apologize that you were too stupid to understand it.

RUSH: Well, frankly, I've got the sound bites here, I've got Letterman's apology, but I don't want to fall prey to this like everything else did in the media and just give him more publicity for it.

CALLER: You said that he apologized and the point is that he didn't. He said I'm sorry you were too stupid to understand --

RUSH: Look, he did two things. It was a real apology. Palin's accepted it, but then he excused it after he apologized it, he excused it again by getting into this business of whether or not the girl he was joking about was 14 or 18. As I said at the beginning of the program, that is irrelevant. A joke like that about any woman is just in bad taste and it's not funny. Now, when he says that what turned the light on for him was Mark "Maxi" Shields on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer? Come on, give us a break. That's what he heard, when Mark Shields said this is indefensible, that's what woke Letterman up about this, Mark Shields on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer? That happened many days after this. But I mean to sit here and parse it is to just give the guy a little bit more publicity about this. He did two things. It was an apology, there's no question. Palin's accepted it. But he then excused it. He excused why it happened, missing the whole point that it's not about whether somebody is 14 or 18.

The only reason that he's harping on this 14 versus 18 business is because somebody -- and it wasn't just Mark "Maxi" Shields -- somebody pointed out that A-Rod knocking up a 14-year-old is statutory rape and here's Letterman making a joke about it, and I forget the guy's name but way back in the seventies there was a New York TV anchor, do you remember his name? He told an innocent little joke on television news about rape and he was never heard from again after that. Tex Antoine, the weatherman, ABC 7, Eyeball News on Channel 7, WABC TV. So Tex Antoine tells this joke about rape and he hasn't been herd from since. He was gone. Letterman told a joke about rape. And the point is, oh, oh, no, I meant the 18-year-old. Oh, then it would have been okay? No, it wouldn't have been okay. That's the excuse for the joke. But he did apologize. He said it was a bad joke and all that. But they knew it was a bad joke when they did this. Don't forget when this happened. This happened the week that Conan O'Brien debuted subbing or taking over for Jay Leno. There were all kinds of bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz bzz about that. And Letterman hasn't been close to NBC, The Tonight Show in ratings in many moons. Hell, folks, Nightline has been beating Letterman. And who among you watches Nightline anymore? The same people that watch The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This is Rick in Chicago. Great to have you here, sir. Hi.

CALLER: Hello, Rush. You're the suma cum laude inspiring ambassador of conservative thought.

RUSH: Thank you.

CALLER: Which actually means political thought altogether, I'm sure you're aware. But I have a statement in light of Letterman's latest so-called apology and his inability to express any contrition about celebrating the defilement of young women.

RUSH: All right.

CALLER: I'd like to go back to the early nineties when he made the following statement to you. He said on his show to you, "Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and ask yourself, 'Am I just full of hot gas?'" I think it's time -- prime-time -- to turn around that statement to him. "Are you full of hot gas, David, considering that you're now the Hindenburg of late night talk shows?"

RUSH: Now, my memory of that is a little different from yours. He said that. There's no question he said it. But I was there.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: And I know that statement he made, the left-wing blogs have loved it and lived on it for years, but what he said, I think... I could be wrong but I think that before he said that, he said, "Are you like me? Do you ever go home late at night and say, 'I'm talking to all these people and I'm just full of hot gas.' Do you think you're ever full of hot air?" and the audience just erupted. They just loved it. They thought it was fabulous, and when that happened Letterman started going, "No, no, no, no, no," as though that's not what he meant. And after that happened, he invited me back two times, I think, maybe three. Not to be a guest, but to appear in fake, phony commercials. And he was very kind every time on those two or three returns. I've never been invited back on the show since, and I don't think I ever will be. I'm too famous to go on that show. Those kinds of shows, they're not... Those are the kind of shows Obama goes on. There's too much substance and all that I have to waste time on shows like that. But my memory of that instance is a little bit different than that. He did say it, but I think he prefaced it by saying, "Are you like me?"

CALLER: And you don't think that was a setup, because I remember you seemed to be really caught by surprise. It was kind of an insulting thing to say to a guest, I really thought, and then that's kind of the way I remember it.

RUSH: Oh, I remember what I said to him. I said Dave, "Isn't it a wonderful thing people like you and I growing up in this country can have shows like this and just be, you know, be this successful," this kind of stuff. Of course, yeah. We were just hitting light speed at that time; the program was just taking off. Now, here's another thing. At that time... I'll give you some details that people don't know. At that time, I lived in a building in New York that Paul Shaffer lived in and I saw Paul Shaffer all the time, Letterman's music director. I'd see him coming in. They tape at five o'clock in the afternoon. I'd see Paul Shaffer at six or seven if he happened to be coming in the building at the same time. I'd talk to him and at that time Letterman was on NBC, but he had just gone to CBS when this had happened.

But I remember, I gave Paul Shaffer a box of cigars. At the time, Letterman was a big-time public cigar smoker. Gave a box of cigars and a note that said, "Please, I think Dave's one of the most funny, creative people there is," and Schaffer gave him the box, and I got a nice thank-you note from Letterman from this. I remember when I got there for the appearance on that show, Schaffer came up to me and said, "Boy, the street's really wired about this." I said, "What are you talking about?" "Your appearance, the street's hot," meaning everybody is buzzing about this, as though it was going to be some kind of confrontation. The reason I don't go on these shows... If you've noticed even when they drag out a politician, it's not all political discussion. When they have some actress, I mean, it's always...

These are comedy shows. But when people like me are invited on these shows, it's bare knuckles, clenched fists, and, "Who the hell do you think you are?" kind of stuff. And there's no interest in showing the humanity of a guest such as me, and I have lots of humanity. It's all about other things. So it's a waste of time to go on. But, you know, I had no indication prior that there was going to be any kind of a cutting comment because of all the polite and nice things I had said. Even during the interview, I tried to say to him on the show, I said, "You know, I think you're the best at what you do and you". "Nah-nah-nah, we don't need that," as though he were embarrassed to be complimented and so forth and came out with the thing. So it is what it is. You live and learn. What I learned is shows like that are beneath me.

CALLER: I think (garbled) more contentious, because you remember you being a gentleman, and I don't recall the reciprocation, but I stand corrected on that but at least you cleared the record for me.

RUSH: I understand. I felt it was contentious, too, don't misunderstand and I can understand why you think so because of the hot gas bag comment. Everybody else thought that, too. Letterman, you know, got a bunch of gold stars from the left even back then, before there were blogs. They were all hot to trot about it and it's still one of the most favored quotes trotted out. It's shown up if you looked at the right blogs in this Palin business. As people have sought to defend Letterman, they have brought that appearance out and talked about, "See, he's a good guy. He's got these people down pat," meaning me. This is what I mean. He's not what he once was. He's turned cynical. He's not creatively funny anymore. He just seems angry and he's turned really 100% political, which he stayed away from. So it is what it is. These things happen. You always take a risk when you go on these shows. But I appreciate your comments. Don't misunderstand. I'm not arguing with you.

CALLER: I know you're not. It's just always a pleasure to listen to you. I'm a great fan of yours and listen regularly and have called numerous times.

RUSH: I appreciate it, Rick. Graziate, thank you very much.

CALLER: Okay, Godspeed to you, Rush.

RUSH: You bet. Thanks so much. You know, sometimes I say "graziate" to people. I'll tell you where I picked that up. Back in the late eighties. Still in Sacramento, I hosted one of these listener tours to Italy (laughing) and we stayed in some college dormitory. It was a horrible place to stay. It was just a trip on the cheap. But my brother and a couple friends of ours decided, "You know, to hell with this cheap stuff." We went to the Hotel Hassler, which we had seen on Robin Leach. What was that show? (interruption) That's it, yeah. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Hotel Hassler. So we went there, and they had a restaurant up at the top of it. And we're having lunch, and the waiters were very nice. And my brother, David, every time the waiters would come up and fill the water or take an order, my brother would say, "Graziate." It's "grazie" in Italian. He said "graziate," and every time he said it, these waiters would just start chuckling with each other, kind of bow their heads and go, "Hee-hee-hee," and walk away. And after about ten times of this, I finally pulled one of the waiters aside, "What's so funny about 'graziate'?" I'll just tell you what the waiters told me. The waiters said, "Well, that is a form of 'grazie' that is really, really familiar male-to-male." (laughing) So I've never heard that since but that's what one of the waiters said, so my brother and I still say "graziate" to each other sometimes in public or even in e-mails.

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