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ABC’s Dishonest Treatment of Palin

John on September 13, 2008 at 10:36 am

Before ABC had even shown their interview with Sarah Palin, they were already touting what they saw as the headline. A banner on ABC’s site in all caps read:


Sounded pretty dramatic and sure enough it was picked up all around the blogosphere. The story itself, written by Russell Goldman, began:

On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Gov. Sarah Palin took a hard-line approach on national security and said that war with Russia may be necessary if that nation invades another country.

Press reports around the world ran with it. Here are just a few examples:

You’d probably get the impression from all this that Palin was talking like some sort of far-right hawk. But it turns out what she had actually said was that the tiny nation of Georgia should be admitted to NATO and that, yes, one of the responsibilities we have to NATO partners is to act in their defense when attacked.

Perhaps embarrassed by their overplaying of their hand, ABC’s shock headline is gone, as is the story it led to just a day ago. Now there is a new, softer story by the same author titled: Palin Takes Hard Line on National Security, Softens Stance on Global Warming. The revised story begins:

On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Gov. Sarah Palin sat down with Gibson for the first two of three interviews, discussing national security and then energy policy and climate change.

Why the change in tone? Here’s one reason. Newsbusters has taken the full transcript of the interview and put in bold those portions ABC saw fit to edit out:

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to — especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.

We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.

GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.

PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.

And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.

It doesn’t have to lead to war and it doesn’t have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.

His mission, if it is to control energy supplies, also, coming from and through Russia, that’s a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen.

So the televised portion ends with Palin saying “Perhaps so…” as if war with Russia is just something we should get used to. That’s also the only part of the exchange noted in Russell Goldman’s story about the interview. Editing both the text and video in this way plays right into the shock headline (IN ALL CAPS) on ABC’s homepage.

But having read the full transcript isn’t it fairly significant that ABC cut out the portion of Palin’s response where she says “It doesn’t have to lead to war and it doesn’t have to lead to a Cold War…” It seems to me this one statement pretty thoroughly undercuts all of ABC’s hype. Is this just sloppy? Maybe, but I think it’s more likely they intentionally tried to create a foreign policy gotcha moment through dishonest editing backed up by dishonest journalism.

And it’s not just this one question they edited unfairly. Click the link over to Newsbusters and take a look at how ABC edited some of the other questions. Any time Palin talks about her foreign policy views with any subtlety or detail, that ended up on the cutting room floor. If I were trying to paint her as an inexperienced neophyte, I’d have made exactly these cuts. Is someone from team Obama working for ABC? It sure looks that way.

Finally, the questions themselves. The Anchoress [HT: Hot Air] notes a helpful comparison of the questions Charlie Gibson asked Palin and those he asked Obama in another recent interview:

Obama interview:

How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?
How does it feel to “win”?
How does your family feel about your “winning” breaking a glass ceiling?
Who will be your VP?
Should you choose Hillary Clinton as VP?
Will you accept public finance?
What issues is your campaign about?
Will you visit Iraq?
Will you debate McCain at a town hall?
What did you think of your competitor’s [Clinton] speech?

Palin interview:
Do you have enough qualifications for the job you’re seeking? Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?
Aren’t you conceited to be seeking this high level job?
Questions about foreign policy
-territorial integrity of Georgia
-allowing Georgia and Ukraine to be members of NATO
-NATO treaty
-Iranian nuclear threat
-what to do if Israel attacks Iran
-Al Qaeda motivations
-the Bush Doctrine
-attacking terrorists harbored by Pakistan
Is America fighting a holy war? [misquoted Palin]

You know, I’m not sure, but I think I sense a different tone.

Add it up — the questions, the editing and the hyped and dishonset story about what Palin said — and this is one for the dishonest journalism record books. And that’s not to mention their mangling of Palin’s prayer and Gibson’s claim that they were her “exact words” when in fact they were not.

McCain’s camp went after the media at the convention. I’d say this is payback.

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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