Tina Fey was recently awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for being funny, but there were 30 seconds of Tina Fey being funny that the PBS executives who aired the ceremony said they simply couldn’t fit into the broadcast. By a total coincidence, those 30 seconds from Fey’s 12-minute and 40-second acceptance speech were an extended joke about Sarah Palin, specifically this bit:
And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women—except, of course, those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape kit ‘n’ stuff. But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years—whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know what? Actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.
Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin—it’s controversial stuff like this that keeps you from winning prestigious comedy awards, except when it does the exact opposite of that. (As Fey herself said in the Palin-related part of her speech that survived, “I would be a liar and an idiot if I didn't thank Sarah Palin for helping get me here tonight. My partial resemblance and her crazy voice are the two luckiest things that ever happened to me.”) What's Tina Fey doing besmirching the Mark Twain Prize with political humor anyway?
Of course, PBS claimed that their decision had nothing whatsoever to do with politics, or the recent call by certain Republicans to cut government funding for public broadcasting in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing from NPR, but rather old-fashioned time constraints. As executive producer Peter Kaminsky told the Washington Post, “We had zero problems with anything she said. We snipped from everyone.” And it’s not as if they could just shave an extra 15 seconds off of, say, Jimmy Fallon and Betty White to make room for the closing thoughts of the woman whom the show was for, right? Tough choices had to be made, and unfortunately they were forced to snip, in an unprecedented move, the exact 30 seconds from their keynote speaker that had to do with a woman whose defenders tend to number among the most sensitive, vindictive, and loud members of the current political arena. But certainly, "It was not a political decision."
Here’s Fey’s unedited acceptance speech. (The remarks about Palin start around the 12:30 mark):