Zernike's Flawed Fact-Checking of Sarah Palin

Palin campaign reporter Kate Zernike reported from Cleveland for the Times' "Caucus" blog ("On the Road: Palin Plays it Safe"), complaining about the lack of press access to Sarah Palin and nitpicking uncontroversial comments by Palin as being facts in dispute.

Campaign staff confine her to attending rallies and fundraisers where she does not take questions.

She ignores reporters who shout requests for just one question, please, as she moves smiling and silent from event to car to plane.

She sticks to her script, even when the facts are in dispute. And while her new stump speech talks about how she sees her role in a McCain administration, she skims over specifics, leaving even some voters wondering whether when she will wade into more detail.

Zernike predictably whined about the lack of press access to Palin (as if the press has treated her so fairly thus far) and then started nitpicking:

Monday, as the financial markets began their collapse, Ms. Palin's staff put out word that she would address the crisis. She had early on misspoken about an economic issue, saying that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to taxpayers," though the institutions are not taxpayer-financed.

Actually Palin turned out to be right on that - initial estimates will put taxpayers on the hook for $200 billion. Zernike does some more nitpicking:

She repeats some of the most popular lines from her convention speech - and the most disputed.

She did not mention the Bridge to Nowhere when she was in Alaska last weekend, but once in the Lower 48, she began telling audiences again how she told Congress "thanks but no thanks" to the bridge - ignoring that she initially supported it. She says that she put the governor's luxury jet on eBay, not mentioning that the plane did not sell there, and sold at a loss.

She tells audiences that as governor she controls about 20 percent of the domestic supply of oil and gas, even though energy analysts dispute that for one, crude oil production in Alaska is about 13 percent.

The Media Research Center's Brent Baker tackled the "20 percent" controversy and found Palin in the right. The Alaska Resource Development Council's Web site states that"Alaska's oil and gas industry" accounts "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production."