Editorial by John Ziegler

"60 Minutes" Hit Job On Palin Was Truly A Joke

1/10/2010

As cynical as I have become about the news media, even I never thought I would see the day where "60 Minutes" provided far more comedy than "Saturday Night Live," but Sunday’s edition of the formerly respected news magazine gave the educated viewer infinitely more laughs than SNL delivered (although Charles Barkley’s pathetic performance may have still somehow been even worse than that of Anderson Cooper).
 
Specifically I am referring to the segment that was allegedly devoted to the new book “Game Change” about the 2008 Presidential election. Quite simply, (partly because it dealt with subjects about which I have devoted much of the last two years of my life and fortune) this was the worst piece of “journalism” I have ever witnessed on 60 Minutes.
 
Here are just some of the many outrages in the story that forced those who care about the truth to choose between laughter and tears.
 
The segment on the book was just under thirteen minutes long. About eleven of those were spent discussing the losing side’s Vice Presidential candidate. About seven minutes were used interviewing the strategist for the losing the campaign and allowing him to take unsubstantiated pot shots at the aforementioned VP candidate. Less than two minutes was used on the current Secretary of State’s bid to be the actual President. Virtually zero seconds were given to the campaign of the current President. Literally zero seconds were devoted to brand new and startling revelations in “Game Change” regarding scandals involving John and Elizabeth Edwards and Harry Reid.     
 
Ok, at first glance those time allotments certainly seem rather hilarious, but perhaps there was some new information about Sarah Palin which substantiated such a seemingly distorted use of precious broadcast seconds. Surely the esteemed "60 Minutes" wouldn’t allow themselves to appear to be so blatantly biased without some really good reason, right? Ah... apparently they would.
 
For most of what I will soon prove was a hatchet job on Palin, Anderson Cooper continually tees up former McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and welcomes all of his responses with the same kind of skepticism with which he might greet President Obama (which is to say, zero). Never has a Republican been treated so kindly by a network correspondent. The fact that Cooper never mentions Schmidt numerous conflicts of interest on this subject (i.e. his “feud” with Palin and his need to explain his loss), is bad enough, but even that bit of “Media Malpractice” pales in comparison with what Cooper allows Schmidt and the book’s authors to say about Palin with even less resistance than the nonexistent defenses in the Packer/Cardinals playoff game earlier in the day.   
 
At the start of the story, it is claimed that the vetting of Governor Palin was inadequate and done by "one lawyer looking on the internet." Not even mentioned was that in “Going Rogue” Palin goes into remarkable detail about how much the McCain campaign knew about her before she was picked. One of the many facts that surprised/impressed her was that the campaign already knew that Bristol was pregnant. Was this on the internet???
 
On Page 217 of “Going Rogue” Palin writes of the research team led by Arthur B. Culverhouse Jr.:
 
“These guys knew stuff about me that I had long forgotten: They knew how I had voted on issues during my days on the city council. They reviewed copies of my tax returns. They had transcripts of sermons that visiting pastors had preached at a church I had not attended regularly since I was a teenager. And they were the ones who told Schmidt that Bristol was pregnant. I was impressed. I also thought, Good. They know exactly what they’re getting.  
 
Next, Schmidt absurdly alleges that the Governor "regularly" connected Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks. The most notorious article that tried to forward this false meme was in the Washington Post where they quoted Palin at her son Track’s deployment ceremony as having said that our soldiers going to Iraq would, “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
 
There is absolutely nothing remotely inaccurate about that statement and for a guy who was the top strategist of a Republican Presidential campaign to actually believe that there is (assuming that is really what motivated Schmidt to make the charge) is truly shocking. Al Qaeda was clearly in Iraq by the time Track was being sent over there and Saddam's own newspaper indeed celebrated the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Where is the controversy here?
 
Then Schmidt claims that in her infamous multi-hour interview with Palin, Katie Couric did not "ask a single unfair question in that interview." First of all, no one has ever said the problem was "unfair” questions. As I clearly document in my film “Media Malpractice” and in my exclusive interview with Palin, the issue has always been the nefarious editing of answers and the distorted standards by which those responses were judged which form the basis of legitimate criticism of Couric. However it should be interesting for all of Schmidt’s future clients (should he somehow get any) to know that he is now on record saying it is NOT unfair to ask a pro-life candidate twelve different times about the abortion issue!
 
Not done toiling in the sewer, Schmidt then charges that there were "numerous instances" where the Governor was "not accurate" and even "untruthful" during the campaign, but the only two examples he provides are laughable.
 
His first is the Governor’s statement that the "Troopergate" report totally exonerated her. At worst what the Governor did would be called positive spinning, but what is incredible here is that a known liar like Schmidt (he has blatantly lied to me on the air in Los Angeles in 2006 while running Governor Schwarzenegger’s reelection campaign), who, like virtually every other political strategist, makes his living telling whoppers with impunity, now suddenly thinks that positive spinning is "lying." Amazing.
 
His second “example” of Todd Palin’s voter registration with the Alaskan Independence Party is even more ridiculous. Long ago e-mails were released (obviously through Schmidt) which reveal a disagreement within the McCain campaign as to how to handle the fact that Todd was indeed officially registered for a time with a political party that believed in secession from the United States. The record shows that Todd thought he was registered Independent and all the Governor asked the campaign to do was make the case that there was no ill intent here. She in no way asked anyone to mislead the public about his registration and to put this in the category of a “lie” is about as credible as Tiger’s explanation for the broken windows on his Cadillac.   

 The comedy continues when the 60 Minutes story spends almost as much time on the asinine "revelation" that Palin was concerned she would call Joe Biden “O’Biden” in their debate (which is already dealt with extensively in the Gov's book, page 289), as it does the entire campaign of Hillary Clinton and far more than the whole campaign of President Obama.   

In some ways this episode breaks the only real "news" of Cooper's interview with Schmidt: THAT NEITHER ONE OF THEM HAS EVEN BOTHERED TO READ SARAH PALIN'S BOOK!

Finally, the kicker comes when Schmidt admits at the end of the interview that Palin was good for the ticket, but he says so in such a convoluted way and Cooper spins it in such a negative light that I am quite sure that at least half the viewers thought he meant the exact opposite (I know that my fiancée did!).

It is difficult to judge who the worst villain is in this truly grotesque injustice. If CBS, "60 Minutes," or Anderson Cooper was capable of it, they should be utterly embarrassed to the point of immediate apology and potential firings. In a remotely just world Steve Schmidt should never again get work in a Republican political campaign (though I suspect he is now angling for a TV job being used as a fake Republican who bashes real Republicans). And frankly John McCain needs to bear at least some responsibility for this fiasco. Clearly Schmidt would not have done this without his approval and unless he immediately and strongly condemns this traitorous action, conservatives should no longer consder him worthy of being one of their leaders.    

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