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As Palin Exits, ABC Slams 'Madcap' Gov; Knocks 'This Real-life Northern Exposure'

ABC's Nightline on Monday didn't allow Sarah Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska to pass without airing yet another dismissive segment, reminiscing about the "madcap" politician. Co-anchor Martin Bashir derided her exit as a "real-life Northern Exposure." Reporter Neal Karlinsky proceeded to drag out every cliched Tina Fey clip and supposed gaffe from the 2008 election.

Speaking of Palin's selection as John McCain's vice presidential running mate, he allowed that the politician was a "rock star" at GOP events. Karlinsky then chided, "But once she veered off script and was forced to answer questions, her image began to shift."

The Nightline correspondent attempted to frame unwanted coverage of Palin as publicity stunts. "From the Levi Johnston scandal...to a seemingly endless series of ethics complaints, to a feud with David Letterman, controversy was Palin's constant companion." A feud with David Letterman? It's not as though the governor preemptively picked a fight with the late night comedian. (The CBS host made crude jokes about Palin's teenage daughter on his program, prompting a response.)

In addition to rehashing the (now) tired clips of Saturday Night Live's impersonation of the politician, Karlinsky replayed snippets of CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric grilling Palin on her reading habits. ABC featured a visual gimmick that suggested the governor had much to regret.

Karlinsky condescended, "Since then, her DVR at home must be bursting at the seams." Successive quotes all featured a rewinding sound and quips such as "Saturday Night Live turned the moment into a new full-time job for Tina Fey...And created clips Palin must have wanted to delete from that DVR." Oddly doctored photos of Palin on a television screen with a moose in the background also accompanied the DVR angle

Finally, the piece glossed over important, specific moments in the 2008 campaign, such as when the VP candidate attacked Barack Obama for "palling around with terrorists." Karlinsky only vaguely announced that Palin was the "attack dog on the campaign trail."

Other examples of Palin bashing on Nightline include: On February 16, 2009, reporter David Wright knocked Palin as a Barbie doll. On October 22, 2008, co-anchor Terry Moran dismissed her as the "the blunda [sic] from the tundra."

A transcript of the July 27 segment, which aired at 11:58pm EDT, follows:

MARTIN BASHIR: Sarah Palin's introduction to the national stage was both meteoric and some might say madcap. One fueled by intense curiosity in a tightly contested presidential race. She officially stepped down yesterday as governor of Alaska with some explanation of why and little discussion of what's next. But it was the latest episode in this real-life Northern Exposure. And Neal Karlinsky was there.

SARAH PALIN: Remember, I promised to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state, like that grizzly guards her cubs, as a mother naturally guards her own. And I will keep that vow wherever the road may lead.

NEAL KARLINSKY: If nothing else, it certainly was an unusual way to leave her job behind. Sarah Palin spent her final days in office at a series of picnics. Serving up hot dog after hot dog after hot dog to thousands. We watched her serve hot dogs for hours. She was good at it, though she wouldn't answer questions about non-hot dog related issues, such as her future. Governor, can you just tell us if you plan to work for the people of Alaska after- Sarah Palin has come a long way since first launching into the media spotlight as just another hockey mom from Alaska.

PALIN: The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.

KARLINSKY: Since then, her DVR at home must be bursting at the seams.

[Throughout the segment, Palin, McCain and other comments are followed by a DVR rewinding sound.]

JOHN MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

KARLINSKY: It was 11 months ago that she injected an instant flash of energy into Senator John McCain's presidential bid. [More rewinding sounds.] She was a rock star at Republican campaign events. But once she veered off script and was forced to answer questions, her image began to shift.

PALIN: You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.

KARLINSKY: Saturday Night Live turned the moment into a new full-time job for Tina Fey.

TINA FEY: And I can see Russia from my house.

KARLINSKY: And created clips Palin must have wanted to delete from that DVR.

FEY [holding up her hand]: And this right here is water and then that up there is Russia.

KATIE COURIC: What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read?

KARLINSKY: It didn't end there.

COURIC: What specifically? I mean, I'm curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them. Any of them that have- that have been in front of me over all these years. [More rewinding sounds.]

KARLINSKY: And then there was the vice presidential debate.

PALIN: That's a positive. That's encouragement and that's what John McCain meant.

KARLINSKY: Where she was given a hard time for her casual style. [More rewinding sounds.]

PALIN: Say it ain't so, Joe.

FEY: John McCain and I, we're a couple of mavericks.

KARLINSKY: The parodies and one liners never let up. She remained McCain's attack dog on the campaign trail and decided to ease up on the interviews and on-camera moments she couldn't control.

PALIN [Giving speech]: I appreciate you. Glad to be here.

KARLINSKY: But, after the election when she returned home to her beloved Alaska, things just weren't the same. The beast that was the Palin media phenomenon followed her. From the Levi Johnston scandal-

LEVI JOHNSTON: The engagement's off. Yeah.

KARLINSKY: -to a seemingly endless series of ethics complaints, to a feud with David Letterman, controversy was Palin's constant companion. So, Alaska's youngest governor decided her state would be better off without her and all the costly scandals she said were getting in the way of her job.

PALIN: With this announcement that I'm not seeking re-election, I thought it best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.

KARLINSKY: The pro-Palin picnic crowd this weekend was still unsure exactly why they were saying good-bye, but she has their vote, whatever she happens to need it for.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It breaks my heart, because we voted for her. And we believe in her. She's honest. And she was like a breath of fresh air.

KARLINSKY: By the time she finally gave it all up yesterday and handed over her job as governor, no one could say Palin hadn't dealt with more than her share of time in the spotlight. So what's a hockey mom to do now? Get ready for more. Palin 2.0 coming soon to a television near you. I'm Neal Karlinsky for Nightline in Fairbanks, Alaska.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.