Last week we flagged CNN's Drew Griffin's interview with Sarah Palin, in which he offered questions like "You seemed to be very much on your game. You get huge crowds. Even bigger crowds than John McCain. Why is that?" and "Governor, is Barack Obama a socialist?" before getting around to softly addressing what is the single largest issue facing Palin -- her involvement in the firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
Palin has now given another national interview; she and John McCain sat down with NBC's Brian Williams last week. (Note, again, that Palin draws out a marquee interviewer, making CNN's assignment of Drew Griffin last week all the more curious). Amazingly, Williams didn't even ask about Monegan's dismissal at all.
It's worth reiterating how important this issue is when considering Palin's case for the vice-presidency. When McCain introduced Palin in Dayton, she said that "Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor, I've stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the Big Oil companies and the 'good old boy' network." Palin has repeated this in countless iterations since then, and it's the reason McCain's team picked her in the first place. Jane Mayer's recent New Yorker piece makes clear that McCain chose Palin in large part because other candidates "did not transmit McCain's core message that he was a 'maverick.'" Robert Draper writes the same in The New York Times Magazine -- he reports that what McCain campaign manager Rick Davis saw in Palin was "namely a way to re-establish the maverick persona McCain had lost while wedding himself to Bush's war."
The problem, of course, is that on October 10, a bipartisan legislative panel found that Palin "unlawfully abused her power" in firing Alaska's public safety commissioner, and specifically said Palin violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Such a condemnation, so close to the election, is damaging to any candidate, to say nothing of one that's based her image on battling corruption.
Williams' interview aired over three days last week, and he even mentioned the Troopergate scandal in two of the prefaces to the interview clips -- but he didn't find it relevant enough to actually ask Palin about it. By the way, over the course of the three days the Palin interview was airing on NBC's Nightly News last week, Palin was being deposed again in a seperate investigation into the firing of Monegan. The deposition happened not 24 hours after Williams interviewed Palin -- but he apparently did not find this newsworthy and did not ask her about it.
Aside from Griffin's neutered question, Palin has never been asked about the Branchflower report, nor has she publicly responded to it, save a shouted reply to a group of reporters that she was "vindicated" by the report's findings, which is, you know, not true. The story just isn't a visible one -- over the past month, it's gotten only 25 mentions on the network and cable news outlets combined (Palin and Branchflower), as compared with 143 mentions of her recent wardrobe dust-up (Palin and $150,000).
Et tu, Brian?
To read the rest of today's Altercation, click here.
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