David Letterman Apologizes to Sarah Palin

06/15/2009 at 07:55 PM EDT

David Letterman Apologizes to Sarah Palin
David Letterman and Sarah Palin
John P. Filo/CBS; Imago Stock/Zuma
After nearly a week of heated controversy over jokes he made about Sarah Palin's trip to New York City with her daughter, Willow, Late Show host David Letterman is making a public apology.

"I told a bad joke," Letterman said during the taping of Monday's show. "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception."

After the Palins expressed outrage last week, Letterman had tried to explain that his jokes – referencing former New York Gov. Elliott Spitzer and New York Yankee star Alex Rodriguez – were aimed at the former vice presidential candidate's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol. But Bristol was not the daughter Palin took along on her trip to New York City and Yankee Stadium – it was her 14-year-old daughter Willow.

"It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault," Letterman said, getting applause from the audience. "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."

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