What Former Aide to Sarah Palin Told CNN


CNN correspondent Christine Romans checked up on some of the bravado expressed by an exuberant Sarah Palin during her speech at the Republican National Convention. You’ll recall that Governor Palin said she had put her predecessor’s luxury airplane on eBay.

CNN thought they should look into that. So they arranged an interview between Wolf Blitzer and Meg Stapleton, former aide to Governor Palin. Stapleton spoke from Anchorage, Alaska. The official CNN version of this interview is recounted with utmost brevity by Romans in her online article “Alaska state jet didn’t fly on eBay”:

“Upon taking office, she [i.e., Governor Palin] wanted to unload what former aide Meg Stapleton called ‘a symbol of corruption.’

“Stapleton told CNN that Murkowski paid too much for the jet, and that it was costing taxpayers money just sitting in the hangar.”

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time – Blogs from CNN.com.

The real story is that, while it’s true that the Governor had the plane listed on auction at eBay, it wasn’t actually sold on eBay, but through a broker, after eBay bids came in too low.

The subtext here is that Palin might have fibbed just a little, or exaggerated the facts . . . or something.

But the real story reported by Christine Romans of CNN is not the whole story. She doesn’t even indicate that Meg Stapleton’s remarks were made during a live and compelling interview she gave with Wolf Blitzer on television today.

You really should see it. I can only imagine what the sophisticates at CNN were expecting from a former aide to Sarah Palin, ensconced in the chilly and woodsy frontier of Alaska. But Ms. Stapleton was impressive. She answered all of Blitzer’s questions about a full range of possible problems candidly and professionally. Every insinuation of possible wrong-doing by Palin was corrected with an articulate and plausible response. And Ms. Stapleton demonstrated unqualified admiration for Sarah Palin that only complemented the favorable impression that Palin herself has made since she was first introduced by John McCain as his running-mate.

Stapleton also demonstrated that Sarah Palin had very capable people working for her in Alaska, and that the big-shot media in the Lower 48 are mistaken if they think their experience and style will intimidate Sarah Palin and the likes of her remarkable associates.

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For a transcript of Wolf Blitzer’s broadcast from the CNN “Situation Room,” check here. For the complete video of the interview, go here.

What Campbell Brown doesn’t know about the National Guard


John McCain cancelled a scheduled interview today with Larry King, of CNN. Why? Word is that McCain campaign staffers believe an earlier CNN interview with spokesman Tucker Bounds signaled the wrong kind of attitude for a fair-handed interview. During her interview with Tucker Bounds yesterday (September 1, 2008), news anchor Campbell Brown pressed the McCain representative with questions about Governor Palin’s readiness for the VP slot, given her level of experience. Brown was especially energetic in her effort to get Bounds to name a single specific example of some decision or action of consequence by Sarah Palin as commander-in-chief of the National Guard in Alaska.

Bounds was, I think, caught off guard (unfortunate pun). He didn’t give a specific example. Instead he tried to describe the nature of a governor’s responsibilities vis-a-vis the National Guard. He remarked that governors have the authority to deploy the Guard in various circumstances. At that point, Campbell Brown challenged him and stated unequivocally that governors do not have that kind of authority. She flatly contradicted him about a factual matter.

Since Campbell Brown knew she was going to ask her question, and Tucker Bounds apparently did not, Brown seemed to be in the winner’s corner in this dispute. She was so insistent that Bounds answer the question that it seemed she knew the answer before she asked it. It looked as if Brown had set the trap for poor Tucker: state governors do not deploy the national guard. Brown suggested that governors play almost no role in determining the activities of the National Guard.

I suspect that TV viewers often give news anchors the benefit of doubt when they make factual claims that can be corroborated using a laptop and a link to Wikipedia. But Campbell goofed. She was wrong about the National Guard and wrong about the responsibilities of state governors. (For a helpful explanation of the complicated relationship between state governors and the president regarding deployment of the Guard, see Kavan Peterson’s article here.)

Tonight, Brown’s colleague Wolf Blitzer praised her handling of the interview. Brown and Blitzer described how dumbfounded they were that the McCain camp had cancelled Larry King. But Campbell Brown isn’t vindicated by the facts. So maybe a little self-examination is appropriate here. Maybe she should apologize for trying to corner her guest with a false statement that she probably believed was true.

What say you?

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