June 14th, 2009
08:08 PM ET
13 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. Pat Dunedin Fl

    It's time the Repubs take aim at Mrs Palin for what she is
    Her daughter did get knocked up and she herself thought of
    not having her last baby.She herself mentioned this. This woman should not be governoror in any politics. I am glad she supported Miss California,
    we all know what happened to her!!!! Palin and her family
    have the nut-job factor to figure in. The media reports because
    we have a lot of nut-jobs mainly in the southeast and can
    identify with this woman. They can all sat on the porch and
    see if Alaska shows up!!!!!!

    June 14, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. winnie

    Just like Palin implied during the campaign that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist. It has been said before, Palin appeals to the basest nature of some Americans.

    I don't think it is possible for her to at least appear to be professional because she is just plain clueless.

    June 14, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  3. democrat no mas

    I love Sarah to pieces for a lot of reasons, but not as President. She's probably a great Governor for a hardy, frontier type state. I just don't think she would be ready for such a big job. Unfortunately, I feel the same about Obama. The only reason I want him to stay in place is because Biden and Pelosi as successors scare me to death. How come all we get in Washington is dumb & dumber?

    June 14, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. pandora

    Palin should be thanking Letterman for giving her yet another opportunity to nationally spew shrill, divisive garbage. It's like crack to her.

    Watch the comments on this story. You'll see at least half of them buy Palin's sick, divisive distortions completely. Several will also twist the story even further to be negative about Obama.

    The FBI reported increased threats against Obamas life in direct relation to Palin rallies. Homeland Security recently warned of an increase threat from the radical right. Hate is on the rise. And Palin is fanning the flames because she's a malignant narcissist.

    June 14, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. Cromwell

    Regardless of what anyone thinks of Sarah Palin, Letterman's crude jokes were inexcusable.

    If Letterman had made similar comments about Michele Obama, he would have been fired immediately.

    I would not vote for Palin, but Letterman is disgusting!!!

    June 14, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Frozone

    Sarah Palin is doing what she does best regarding David Letterman. She is simply using her kids as a means to score political points. She's a shameless opportunist, and not particularly bright one.

    June 14, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. Mike in Kansas

    When will Sarah Palin realize she was just McCain's Hail Mary Pass?

    And if she had had any loyalty to her party or gratitude for her party, she would have gracisously declined the invitation. Instead she stepped right out there for the world to see, claimed her spot on the ticket then lowered the boom on McCain and the party concerning her daughter's pregnacy. Yes sure, the Republican party tried to put the only spin on it that they could which was to say they knew about it, but come on, Not in real life guys.

    And then her whole Canidacy started spiraling downward (which is prone to happen to selfish self centered individuals) by publicly making contridictory statements at pizza parlours, and the botched Curic interview. Finnaly to crash and burn at those memorable hate filled rallies.

    Does her party want her to go away? You Betcha

    June 14, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. ruth

    I love Letterman. Hope he keeps up the funny stuff. If Palin can't take the heat -- get out of the kitchen.

    June 14, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Joanna

    it whining Palin vs the world. whaaaaa
    letterman was a bite out of line admittedly, but Palin played that for all it was worth. she is twisted individual.

    June 14, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  10. Keith in CA

    Palin seized upon Letterman's joke as the latest in a long line of opportunities to be in the national spotlight. She could have taken the high road and been seen as the victim, despite the fact she herself exploited her chilren thoughout the 2008 campaign. Instead, Palin choose the amatuer route by getting into a tit-for-tat with a seasoned comedian. Never a good idea for a politician who continues to prove herself to be all image with no substance.

    June 14, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. AmFem

    Are these the same political reporters that let Rove and Cheney to make up their own "facts" during interviews, and never question their lies? Reporters don't ask the tough questions anymore, so I don't find them very credible, and I value their opinions even less.

    June 14, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. JonDie

    New Day said, "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?"

    Someone once wrote, Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it."

    However, today the Sarah Palins of the world, who even don't know enough world history, ancient or modern, to make it throught the first round of Jeopardy, are paraded before the American people as paradigms of enlightenment by the media.

    June 14, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. Tracy M.

    "Did the media overdue"??? Are you kidding me? A library book is overdue. The media can overdo. C'mon, guys. Wake up.

    June 14, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Shelley

    "Did the media overdue it with too much Palin coverage?"

    Overdue? Really? How about 'overdo'? What happened to the art of copy editing?

    June 14, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. MATT

    Oh no, Sarah 's demanding another apology!

    June 14, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. ib

    Liberals are pathetic on this if they think for one minute it was ok what Letterman did. No one and I mean no one should have something said like this about their child. I would hate to think if Newt or Rush had made a statement like what the liberals would be saying and calling for.

    June 14, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Jean2

    With all of the difficulties on the world stage. I would hope that the journalist could find better material. THEY HAVE THE MICROPHONES!

    ___and Wolf Blitzer continue the "side show".

    June 14, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  18. Tre

    Who is Sarah Palin? Besides a runner up to a loser. Doesn't that make her a bigger loser? She really should head the Republican Party. It fits.

    June 14, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. bevpal

    Sarah... don't go away mad...just go away!

    June 14, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. Lightbulb

    Library books are "overdue", the media did "over-do" their coverage on Miss Moosetracks........

    June 14, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  21. in NY

    "...did the media overdue it..."

    I think it's spelled "overdo"?

    June 14, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. makesUwonder

    I recall when Obama was running for President he made it very clear the children of politicians were off limits no matter what. So, Mr. President why don't step up to the plate and stand by what you said in the past and give Letterman a verbal boot in the butt.

    June 14, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. Craig

    It was a joke Sarah, get over it! Just like impressions of you on Sat Night Live. Now shut up and go away! If we held every joke made by every late night show accountable, there would be no late night tv talk shows left!

    June 14, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  24. Betsy

    I don't know...did the media "overdue" it?

    I for one do not trust a media that can't spell.

    June 14, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  25. PeterS

    I know I shouldn't stick my nose in, but I do read the news and comments on CNN can't help myself. You folks south of the 49th don't know how lucky you are...Sarah's our neighbour and commands a national gueard unit....given her grasp of international affairs, hope she doesn't mistake the Yukon for Russia! However, Letterman blew it with his off-colour comment.

    June 14, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
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