Letterman, in his monologue Monday night, noted that the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate attended a Yankees game during a trip to New York City, where she was honored by a special needs group. Letterman referred to Palin, Alaska's governor, as having the style of a "slutty flight attendant."
The "Late Show" host also took a shot Palin's daughter, while poking fun at the Yankees' third baseman.
"One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game," Letterman said, "during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
The backlash was almost immediate, with Palin's supporters denouncing the CBS host for making jokes that many said were sexist and for what they called an unfair attack on the governor and her family.
"I think that calling the former vice presidential candidate a slut or saying that her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez, I think everyone can agree that’s over the line," Washington Examiner correspondent Byron York told FOX News’ Greta Von Susteren.
But an even more disturbing fact, which Letterman may not have known, was that the daughter who accompanied Palin on her trip to New York was 14-year-old Willow — not 18-year-old Bristol, the unwed mother of Palin's first grandchild.
Now, many critics — including the Palins themselves – are slamming Letterman for jokes that they say make light of sexual abuse of an underage girl.
In a statement to FOXNews.com, Palin accused Letterman of making "sexually perverted" and “inappropriate" comments that she doubted he would “ever dare make” about anyone else’s daughter.
"Acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others," she said.
Palin's husband, Todd, echoed her sentiments, telling FOXNews.com, "Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too."
A representative for “The Late Show” declined to offer comment for this story.