November 18th, 2009
06:10 AM ET
5 years ago

Reporters, former aide dispute claim about Palin daughter

Palin's daughter Piper, pictured above to Palin's right, traveled with the former Alaska governor throughout the 2008 campaign.
Palin's daughter Piper, pictured above to Palin's right, traveled with the former Alaska governor throughout the 2008 campaign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In her new memoir, "Going Rogue," Palin accuses two national reporters of trying to corner her young daughter Piper on the street in Juneau for an interview several months after the presidential campaign ended - a charge both the journalists and a former Palin campaign aide reject.

Palin writes in her book that after the race ended, "members of the national press continued to hang out in Alaska sniffing for tabloid stuff."

"In one early press conference we noticed that our local reporters were flanked by a couple of reporters from the Lower 48 who'd been hanging out around Juneau in search of material for their own Sarah Palin book," Palin writes. "We never shut our doors to anyone, so people of all kinds attended these press availabilities. But glancing along the side wall, I recognized these particular folks as the same ones who had cornered Piper on her walk home from Harborview Elementary School and talked to her for who knows how long about who knows what."

According to Palin, Piper returned home and told her mother: "Mom, remember those reporters who came on the campaign plane with us? You know, the ones Nicolle [Wallace] said didn't like us very much? They just interviewed me on the sidewalk." Palin adds after the incident, Piper was no longer allowed to walk to or from school by herself.

The journalists in question - Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, authors of the newly-published book "Sarah from Alaska" - deny Palin's characterization. Both traveled with Palin on her campaign plane throughout her 2008 vice presidential bid, and the precocious Palin daughter frequently visited with the press corps and became friendly with them, a fact Palin boasts about in her memoir.

Conroy and Walshe said in a statement Tuesday that in the course of reporting for their book, they conducted 190 interviews, including sit-downs with Palin's parents and her husband Todd.

"We did not, however, interview Piper Palin, nor did we corner her on her way home from school," Conroy and Walshe told CNN in a statement. "Contrary to Governor Palin's recollection of having seen us both at a press conference, Scott has never attended a press conference in Alaska."

Wallace, who advised Palin on media strategy during the campaign but fell out favor with the candidate, also rejected Palin's version of the story. She said it would have been impossible for Piper to have used her by name in a discussion about the campaign reporters in question, because Wallace never spoke to Piper about them.

"I have never met Shushannah and Scott and had never seen Shushannah until I saw her on TV yesterday," Wallace said in an e-mail to CNN. "Couldn't have picked either of them out of a line up and never heard their names or had any idea who they were until after the campaign ended."

Conroy and Walshe tell their version of the story in their book, which was released earlier this month. On happening to bump into the reporters in Juneau, they write, Piper "seemed excited to chat briefly with us about her return to Alaska." An hour later, they received an angry phone call from Palin's deputy press secretary, Sharon Leighow, accusing them of "cornering Piper at her bus stop for comment."

"We don't appreciate you being here, and we don't appreciate you stalking the governor as you have been," Leighow said, according to the authors.


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