Déjà Vu All Over Again: Palin's Second Wooden Lie

05/25/2011 02:55 pm ET

Just when you think it can't get any stranger in the world of Sarah Palin--with lie after lie piling up like cord wood in the it's Matanuska Valley--there's yet another bogus quote from UCLA basketball legend John Wooden in Palin's memoir Going Rogue, making her two-for-two in misquoting the Wizard of Westwood.

That's good from the free throw line, but not so good in journalism.

For the record, as the epigram to Chapter Three, "Drill, Baby, Drill," Palin attributed remarks to Wooden that had actually been made by Native American activist John Wooden Legs. It made for a good laugh and lots of chuckles on late night television.

But remarkably in Chapter Two of Going Rogue, there's an even weirder and more troubling mis-attribution related to Wooden.


Palin recounts her being dumped in 2002 by then Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski as a potential replacement for the U.S. Senate seat he vacated. It's a real scream. Palin acts not only like she might have been a serious contender (by all accounts she wasn't), she then goes out of her way to throw an elbow at Murkowski and his daughter Lisa, whom he did appoint to the vacant seat. Okay. We expect that now from Palin. She's kind of the punk version of Will Rogers: She never met a cheap shot she didn't like.

But then she claims, as a way of tending her wounds, that she and hubby Todd "reminded each other how UCLA Coach John Wooden had captured our thoughts in a book we'd read about him."

I told Todd, "Coach Wooden said, 'Things work out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.'"

Except that's not a John Wooden quote. It's an Art Linkletter quote--and it was cited in a book called Why Winners Win by Art Garner.

But it did appear on a website with a slew of faux John Wooden quotes. Yes, this is gotcha journalism--and this is the second time that Ms. Palin has been busted for pulling phony quotes from the internet attributed to Coach Wooden.

But this one is worse. She and Todd never said this in the car. They never read a book together about Wooden with this quote in it. It's a total and fabricated lie concocted by Palin and that crack team of journalists who worked on the book with her: Lynn Vincent, Meg Stapleton and Ivy Frye; and yet another bizarre gaffe that got by all those dutiful fact checkers at HarperCollins.

Palin has made up quotes from Plato and Aristotle and lied about scores of people in her book, from her ex-brother-in-law Mike Wooten to John McCain's top gun Steve Schmidt.

But this one has an added stench to it in that she leads us to believe it was actually part of the historic soundtrack in Palin's political career. My father, who served in the Navy during World War II, had a certain colorful phrase that I cannot repeat in a family blog for this type of behavior. But in translation, he would have noted that a certain part of Ms. Palin's anatomy is sucking well water.

That's what we call in the biz a "direct quote," not one of Palin's fantasy quotes drawn from an irresponsible web site. I have a piece of advice for the Going Rogue B-team: Lose that web page on your bookmarks list.

And quit dragging John Wooden into your sleazy and sloppy brand of demagoguery. It's an affront to his legacy.

Palin and Wooden, of course, exist in parallel universes. Wooden was no quitter. His success as a coach and mentor was real. And he would have never tolerated the reckless disregard for the truth that Palin manifests on every page of her memoir.

Let us leave with yet another real John Wooden quote from the real John Wooden, provided courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor:

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

Ms. Palin, beware.


Award-winning writer and filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn's book The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power will be released by St. Martin's Press in spring 2010.