How Media Judged Palin’s Interview

Posted: Sep 12, 2008 10:04 AM
How Media Judged Palin’s Interview

Before GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s highly-billed interview even aired, media outlets seized on excerpts about NATO relations to sensationalize her stance on Russia.

ABC News leaked excerpts from it with the headline: “EXCLUSIVE: GOV. SARAH PALIN WARNS WAR MAY BE NECESSARY IF RUSSIA INVADES ANOTHER COUNTRY” and Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin immediately posted a blog “Time: ABC: Palin Warns of War with Russia If It Invades another Country.”

When the interviewed aired, however, it became apparent Palin only discussed U.S. obligations to fellow NATO countries. “When you a NATO ally, if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.”

Gibson peppered Palin with a battery of tough questions about experience, her faith and positions on national security. Most of the news reports about the interview published Friday morning focused on her thoughts on foreign affairs.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times wrote: “At times visibly nervous, at others appearing to hew so closely to prepared answers that she used the exact same phrases repeatedly, Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of “anticipatory self-defense.’”

Jonathan Martin of the Politico thought Palin’s answers seemed “hawkish” and the Washington Post said Palin erroneously linked September 11 to the War on Terror.

“Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would ‘defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans,” reporter Anne Kornblut wrote, “The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself.”

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol fiercely refuted Kornblut’s assessment, calling it a “distortion” that was either “stupid or malicious.”

He wrote, “Obviously Palin isn’t saying that our soldiers are now going over to Iraq to fight Saddam’s regime. Palin isn’t linking Saddam to 9/11. She’s linking al Qaeda in Iraq to al Qaeda.”

Jake Tapper, of ABC News, reported in an on-air "factchecker" segment Friday morning that Palin made two factual errors in the interview about foreign relations and global warming.

When asked if she had ever met a foreign leader Palin said no and that she would not be the first vice president who hadn’t before going into office. Tapper said that was not true and “Palin would be the first vice president that has never met a foreign head of state.”

In the interview, Palin said she believed it was possible that global-warming was caused by humans. Tapper said this indicated a change in her previous position, which Gibson suggested was a “flip-flop” to align herself with McCain’s view on climate change in his segment.

Palin challenged aggressively challenged Gibson on the "flip-flop" accusation. "Show me where I've said there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change," she told him. "I have not said that. I have said that my belief is there is a cyclical nature of our planet — warming trends, cooling trends — I'm not going to argue scientists because I believe in science and have such a great respect for what they are telling us. I'm not going to disagree with the point that they make that man's activities can be attributed to changes."

In his "factchecker" package Tapper cited an Alaskan newspaper article published, within the last year, which quoted Palin saying she did not believe global warming was man-made.

The December 2007 article Tapper referenced came from the Fairbanks News-Miner. At that time Palin said: "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity, but I'm not going to put my head in the sand and pretend there aren't changes."