June 14th, 2009
08:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Reporters break down Palin coverage, slam Letterman remark

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Between uncertainty about her appearance at a big fundraiser and a war of words with a late night TV talk show host, former Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back dominating political headlines last week.

Did the media over do it with too much Palin coverage?

On CNN’s Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz asked three political reporters to weigh in on just that question.

The journalists largely agreed that the wall-to-wall coverage of Palin, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and last week’s annual Republican fundraiser was justified because of all the interest in Palin’s possible presidential aspirations.

"[T]his is one case where it's not the press’ creation," Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin told Kurtz. “A lot of Republican sources that all of us talked to were very unhappy with what Governor Palin did and the confusion in her political operation.”

“And it goes to a larger question,” continued Halperin, “is she doing what she needs to do now in order to be a plausible presidential candidate in 2012? Her relationship with the National Republican Party, confusion in her operation, a lack of confidence in her and those around her is what was at issue there; not gossip and not the rivalry with Newt Gingrich. And that's a legitimate issue and one the people covered.”

Air America’s Anna Marie Cox agreed.

“[I]t was not about Sarah versus Newt. It was more about Sarah versus sort of the apparatus of the GOP - and her relationship with them and the lack of professionalism in her operations,” Cox said Sunday.

The National Review’s Jim Geraghty had a different take, suggesting that the media’s dissatisfaction with the governor’s political staff was coloring the coverage Palin received about the GOP fundraising dinner last week.

“When a reporter doesn’t get a phone call returned, that grates on them,” Geraghty said to Kurtz. “And that may, in one form or another, get reflected in the coverage.”

The four journalists were uniformly critical of late night talk show host’s David Letterman’s recent off-color humor about Palin’s family.

Related: Palin calls foul on Letterman's 'weak' excuse

“I think people across the board say he went too far,” said Halperin. “But in terms of Sarah Palin, it’s not necessarily clear that it’s politically smart for her to do what she did [in response to Letterman].”

“She implied that he was a pedophile,” Cox told Kurtz. “I think the joke was over the line but that’s over the line too. . . . it’s not something that you needed to go to war over.”

“The words ‘I’m sorry’ would’ve been nice,” Geraghty said of what many considered a half-hearted attempt to apologize by Letterman last week as the controversy blew up. “Don’t go after kids,” Geraghty added.

Kurtz added his own “two cents” Sunday, saying that Letterman’s remarks had crossed the line. “This was not Tina Fey gentle mockery, this was pretty rough to go after, as he did, a 14-year-old girl or an 18-year-old girl. And I don't think the apology was sufficient.”


Filed under: David Letterman • Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin • State of the Union
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. New Day

    ...and, if President Obama does, Republicans will come out and slam him for having done it.

    I think the wise thing to do is to wait and get the facts. After all, we have learned Bush's lesson on charging in half-cocked all too well, have we not?

    June 14, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Melissa

    The media in this country are an embarassment. Our citizens are fat, complacent and uninformed. Who cares about the Killah from Wasilla and melon head Newt? Iran is in the midst of a revolution. Where is the coverage?

    June 14, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Jon

    Letterman hasn't been funny for years and it has been reflected in his ratings. This whole flap has a smell to it that Letterman did it on purpose just to get some attention for his show in light of that other not funny guy taking over the Tonight Show.

    June 14, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  4. Sandra Day

    Glad to see that even the GOP now does not want much, if anything, to do with Sarah Palin. She is just plain bad news. Nothing against her personally; she'd probably make a good neighbor. It is just that negativity seems to follow her everywhere, regardless. The GOP wants people to start seeing their party as more positive, and, let's face it, Sarah P. ain't the answer.

    June 14, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Gregory

    David Letterman just proved that liberals are sick.

    June 14, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. beth

    If Republicans honestly consider her as a viable candidate, that's scary. I'm so happy I switched parties.

    June 14, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. TX Women for Obama

    If Palin didn't expose her children then the media does not have anything to talk about where her children are concern. Palin was only trying to get votes by having her kids out front and center.
    palin should just go away.....

    Letterman is a comdian and palin is the joke.....

    June 14, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  8. old timer

    Sahara Palin is the only hope for America. The news media picked Obama and we all see what he is doing He was and is a bad choice for America. Wake up people and watch what is coming down the tubes in the next three and a half years. The people wanted change and this is what they got.

    June 14, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. keekers

    Sarah is still the runner-up beauty pageant contestant throwing a hissy fit back stage. Hope she's the 2012 GOP nominee.

    June 14, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. Grrr-awful-o

    Too much coverage of the governor from Alaska? Heck no! And besides there's nothing really happening in the world nowadays to compete with Sarah Palin and her daughters. So carry on with all the Palin news all the time...

    Latte anyone?

    June 14, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  11. Don

    As a democrat, I am appalled at how some have overlooked Letterman's comments. We all know if this had been reversed we would all be up in arms. Letterman had no excuse, and his apology was laughable. This incident actually has me on Sarah's side. Dems we can not be hypocrits when it comes to these issues.

    June 14, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. No Hillary = No Obama

    As far as I am concerned Letterman has abused his privilege where he makes millions of dollars at someone else's expense. CBS needs to fire him. His comments were hostile, mean-spirited and self-serving. I never thought he was funny anyway – ever.

    June 14, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. bob in LA

    All coverage of Palin is too much. I never thought I wouldwant Britney, Paris and Lindsey back in the news!
    At least they were entertaining and were young.
    This woman claims to be mature and intelligent- by comparrison the a moose!( sorry Moose!)

    June 14, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. KASSIE W.

    For heaven's sake...why does everybody get soupset with remarks made by David Letterman? Our youth of today use this kind of language everyday.. get over it already!!

    June 14, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  15. Kyle

    Fragile ears have no business in politics. Time to move on Sarah.

    June 14, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Dave

    The media coverage of Palin mimics the coverage of Dan Quayle when Bush 41 selected him and for the next four years. The press portrays the GOP as a party of old white men, but any time a young, bright, energetic Republican appears on the scene they are blasted as stupid, incompetent, and out of touch.

    Consider the attacks on Palin for what they are: a preemptive attack to prevent her from being a serious national candidate. The left are terrified of her simply because she energizes conservatives, including the infamous soccer moms, in a way that a moderate like McCain never could.

    June 14, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  17. Lexie

    Sarah Palin demands an apology for every comment and action she receives. She'll never make it as an politician if see keeps reacting with "you better apologize to me or else". Moron.

    June 14, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Mike

    Letterman apologized, and Palin just dismissed it.

    I think it's sad that she's just trying to keep the controversy alive to keep herself in the spotlight – and at the expense of her daughter.

    I also find it sad that her followers are so easily duped into these bouts of self righteousness and outrage... it's getting kind of predictable guys.

    June 14, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. jay in CA

    Does anybody see the irony in reporting the over reporting?

    June 14, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. kim

    The left wing nut jobs and the left wing media are so nasty and vicious, Sarah Palin is like red meat to a dog when it comes to them, no matter what she does they will have a problem with it. I have compiled comments from several boards and it is embarrassing, that Americans are so hateful. Liberals better step back and take a look at their attitude and their actions, no wonder their children are so vicious and nasty, they have no choice, look who is raising them.

    June 14, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. P. Y.

    What Letterman said was wrong, but, he did apologize. Sarah Palin just wants to keep it going, and going, and going. She asks for these problems by exploiting her family just to keep her name in the paper. Her husband is just as bad. Neither one of them has done anything to be good parents to those children. They use them and then carry on whenever someone says something about them.

    June 14, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. pat c

    i am sick of sarah palin in any shape or form.. she is disgusting in every word that comes from her ignorant mouth. the GOP should be embarrassed that she supposedly represents them in any way.
    newt gingrich is another hate filled nothing that belongs in a cage with cheney,rove,hannity, becks and palin. they hate so badly ,let them duke it out and see which one can hate the worst but don't make us have to sit thru the mess. they need to leave the american people and news media alone so that coverage of importance can be shown to the people. this whole 6 month period that our new president has been in office has been more like a circus with all the republicans on CNN,they are becoming more FOX worthy day after day. we are sick of the negative constant beating up with everything obama is doing but NEVER have the republicans got a salution for anything. we are just FED UP!!!

    June 14, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. katiec

    Give me a break.
    The media, especially CNN, has a love affair with Palin.
    The bloggers have complained time and time again about her being shoved down our throat with their constant headlines but they ignore us, trying to continue to glorify her.
    Sure Letterman used poor taste, but what about all the accusations, unfounded statements, lies, hate, anger, distrust Palin is constantly touting. Never does the media question or do a fact check on the garbage that comes out of her mouth. The fact that they support her and her dishonor lets us know how biased they are.
    Then, when not idolizing her, they give headlines to Rove, Gingrich, Chenne, Cantor, Steele, further pushing the republican support on us
    further trying to discredit our president and his efforts to save our country.
    To say that the media is fair tells us how little creditibility and integrity the media and those they represent have.

    June 14, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Wes

    Has it dawned on anyone in the press that there is a zero percent chance that the ding bat Sarah Palin is a serious Presidental candidate?

    Has it dawned on anyone in the press that the onlyreason we read this garbage they continue to print about Sarah Palin is the same reason we love to witness train wrecks?

    Everyone in the country should ban together and sue John McCain for bringing this idiot into our living rooms.

    June 14, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Jancie

    No one should be subject to such ridicule as Letterman directed toward the Palins' daughter. Does anyone remember that Don Imus was fired for one of his derogatory comments regarding a team of female athletes – certainly no worse that Letterman's. For some reason, I suspect that had David Letterman's insult been aimed at one of the Obama daughters, his career would have come to a sudden end. But is there really any difference......?

    June 14, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
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