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ABC, NBC Repeat Anonymous Rumors Discrediting Palin

The election may be over, but that didn't deter ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and NBC's Nightly News from featuring segments on nasty rumors about Sarah Palin being circulated by unnamed sources within the McCain campaign.


Both Thursday evening stories questioned Palin's intelligence.  ABC's Kate Snow asked, “how did a phone call with the French president land on Palin's official schedule without McCain staffers knowing about it?” before playing clips of what turned out to be a prank phone call Palin received from Canadian DJs pretending to be Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France.  TIME magazine's Mark Halperin told ABC, “There are a lot of people around John McCain who ended up being stunned at how unprepared Sarah Palin was for this job.”  NBC's Kelly O'Donnell noted, “an aide said Palin had to be told Africa is a continent and not a country.  And was walked through the basics of the Iraq war and Middle East on a map.” 


Snow and O'Donnell also portrayed Palin as a diva.  Snow reported, “Palin was told to buy just a few suits for the convention and instead spent even more than the $150,000 reported.  Tens of thousands more charged to credit cards of low level staffers.”  O'Donnell asserted, “even after the big spending story broke, Palin staffers were sent to buy her more clothes and put charges on their own credit cards, as much as $30,000.  Aides say clothing for Todd Palin may have cost as much as $40,000.” 


O'Donnell also depicted Palin as a spotlight-craving diva when she noted, “Palin had prepared two versions of a speech but McCain senior advisors told her no, the night belonged to him.”  Snow also reported that Palin wanted to speak Tuesday night, but additionally provided the background information that the denial was, “in keeping with tradition that only presidential candidates give concession speeches.” 


Both segments also noted that McCain and Palin are not at odds with each other.  Snow ended her segment by saying, “many believe [Palin] will be on a national stage again someday.”  O'Donnell ended hers with, “some of the same aides still described Palin as smart, charismatic and hardworking.”  However, those tiny positive comments were greatly overshadowed by the largely negatives reported by ABC and NBC. 


The transcripts from each segment appear below:


ABC, World News with Charles Gibson:


CHARLES GIBSON, anchor: While the Democrats take the reigns of power the Republicans are playing a particularly nasty blame game. It's not unusual for those who lose an election to start finger pointing. And a lot of them are being pointed at Governor Sarah Palin. Here's ABC's Kate Snow.

KATE SNOW: As the governor returned to Alaska and campaign staff scattered across the country, anger about Tuesday's loss was manifesting in ugly ways. Aides anonymously threw knives at each other and questioned Palin's intelligence.

SARAH PALIN: I won't comment on anybody's gossip or allegations that are
based on anonymous sources.

MARK HALPERIN, TIME Magazine: There are a lot of people around John McCain who ended up being stunned at how unprepared Sarah Palin was for this job. And they didn't like the way she sometimes stepped out of line, off message in way that some thought was better for her, rather than think about the interests John McCain.

SNOW: Numerous aides said today, they were saddened by the public vitriol, we're all looking like jerks rights now, said one.  And yet, the stories continue. Palin was told to buy just a few suits for the convention, and instead spent even more than the $150,000 reported. Tens of thousands more charged to credit cards of low level staffers. And how did a phone call with the French president land on Palin's official schedule without McCain staffers knowing about it? And worse, it was a prank by Canadian DJs. 


CLIP


DJ: This is Nicolas Sarkozy speaking.  How are you?


PALIN: Oh, so  good. It's so good to hear you.


HALPERIN: This was for a lot of people in john McCain's circle the last
straw.

SNOW: Some high-level McCain staffers told ABC News today, there's no bad blood between Senator McCain and Governor Palin. The two spoke at length yesterday, as they have almost everyday.

PALIN: We have a great relationship. I have nothing but admiration for him. I love him.

SNOW: Aides say Palin was asked not to deliver her prepared remarks Tuesday in keeping with tradition that only presidential candidates give concession speeches.  But many believe she will be on a national stage again someday. Kate Snow, ABC News, New York


NBC, Nightly News:

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The sniping continues from inside the losing GOP campaign. And today vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin found herself the target of some very unflattering stories coming from with inside the Republican Party. The story tonight from NBC's  Kelly O'Donnell.

KELLY O'DONNELL: Back home in Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin has denied a flurry of accusations and criticism from McCain campaign aides.

SARAH PALIN: I guess that's the nature of the beast of politics at this level.

O'DONNELL: So what are insiders saying? Election night, aides say Palin
had prepared two versions of a speech but McCain senior advisers told her no, the night belonged to him. Deeper strains had been bubbling up for weeks. New details on the controversial wardrobe shopping. Aides say even after the big spending story broke, Palin staffers were sent to buy her more clothes and put charges on their own credit cards, as much as $30,000. Aides say clothing for Todd Palin may have cost as much as $40,000. Today the governor's spokesperson said Palin had requested toiletries but never clothing.

On Palin's knowledge, McCain advisers say the governor had been candid about her limits on national security and foreign policy. But how little she knew surprised some. Examples -- an aide said Palin had to be told Africa is a continent and not a country. And was walked through the basics of the Iraq war and Middle East on a map. Today Palin's office called the accusation unfortunate and quite honestly, sickening.

PALIN:  I have absolutely no intention of engaging in any of the negativity because this has been all positive for me.

O'DONNELL:  After all that, some of the same aides still described Palin as smart, charismatic and hard working. The clashes, they say, were between Palin and staffers and not the candidates, adding McCain and Palin spoke a few times a week and got along to the end. Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, Phoenix.


Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.