Painting Palin as Hypocrite for 'Crib Notes' and GOP as 'Party of No' While Letting Obama Pontificate

From Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts: CBS and NBC found hypocrisy in Sarah Palin scolding President Obama's incessant use of a Teleprompter while she had “crib notes” written on her hand during her Saturday Tea Party convention appearance, CBS followed by giving Obama two-straight minutes to explain why the public will come around to “connect” with him again and, meanwhile, ABC devoted a full story to “whether Republicans want action or are just the 'Party of No'?”

CBS's Nancy Cordes reported, over a helpful graphic showing the words written on Palin's hand, that while Palin “dismissed the President Saturday night as a 'charismatic guy with a Teleprompter,' she may have been relying on some crib notes of her own.” Cordes concluded: “Her supporters called it an endearing sign that Palin's a real person, while detractors argue it's proof she doesn't know her facts.” On NBC, Brian Williams led the Palin story with how “it happened after a speech where she criticized the President for relying too much on a Teleprompter.”  

Next on CBS, Katie Couric highlighted how, in her pre-SuperBowl sit-down with Obama, she had raised with him that “people are not sure who he is or what he stands for.” Viewers were then treated to a two-minute long answer from Obama, ending with his insistance that when the economy improves “we'll do just fine and everybody will be saying what a connection President Obama has with the American people. Which is what they were saying a year ago.” (“They” being journalists?)

ABC's Diane Sawyer relayed the White House spin:
Now we turn to politics and President Obama on the offensive. He has challenged Republicans to a kind of political truth or dare, a meeting February 25th broadcast on TV to discuss health care reform so the country can decide whether Republicans want action or are just the “Party of No”?
From Capitol Hill, Jonathan Karl began his piece: “Democrats up here are saying that these days Republicans are even saying no to their own ideas. Just look at the last few weeks. Senate Republicans reversed course dramatically on how to reduce the deficit...”

From the Monday, February 8 CBS Evening News:
NANCY CORDES: ...While the former Alaska Governor dismissed the President Saturday night as a-

SARAH PALIN: Charismatic guy with a Teleprompter.

CORDES: She may have been relying on some crib notes of her own. Cameras captured the words “energy,” “tax cuts” and “lift American spirits” scribbled on her hand, which she appeared to refer to in the q & a directly following her speech.

PALIN, LOOKING DOWN: We've got to start reigning in the spending, we have got to jump start these energy projects.

CORDES: Her supporters called it an endearing sign that Palin's a real person, while detractors argue it's proof she doesn't know her facts.
The very next story:
COURIC: Though he's been in office just over a year, President Obama has given more than 160 interviews and taken questions at 26 town meetings. In my interview with him yesterday, I asked him about the criticism he gets from some political analysts that in spite of all that exposure, people are not sure who he is or what he stands for.

OBAMA: ...So if we work hard and stay focused on what matters to people in their day to day lives and make some occasionally tough decisions, and the economy improves and people's lives improve, then I think we'll do just fine and everybody will be saying what a connection President Obama has with the American people. Which is what they were saying a year ago.

NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Sarah Palin's defenders went into overdrive today after yesterday's discovery she had notes written on her hand, the answers to a question that hadn't been asked yet on stage. It happened after a speech where she criticized the President for relying too much on a Teleprompter and then some. Our report on all of it tonight from NBC's Andrea Mitchell....

ANDREA MITCHELL: At the Tea Party convention, she lacerated President Obama.

SARAH PALIN: I've got to ask supporters of all that, how's that hopey stuff work out for you? This is about the people and it's bigger than any king or queen of a Tea Party and it's a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a Teleprompter.

MITCHELL: Palin wasn't beyond using a handy crib sheet herself, just in case she was asked her top priorities.

PALIN: We've got to start reigning in the spending, we have got to jump start these energy projects.

MITCHELL: A Palin campaign would certainly be different: Appearing before friendly crowds, using Facebook and Twitter to control the message, not answering tough questions....

From ABC's World News:
DIANE SAWYER: Now we turn to politics and President Obama on the offensive. He has challenged Republicans to a kind of political truth or dare, a meeting February 25th broadcast on TV to discuss health care reform so the country can decide whether Republicans want action or are just the “Party of No”? Jon Karl at Capitol Hill, we want to bring you in. What's the GOP answer?

JONATHAN KARL: Well, when it comes to attending that meeting, all indications are the Republicans will say yes. But if it's a matter of resuscitating the President's health care bill, they've already given their answer and that's a firm no.

SAWYER: And what about the administration indictment that the Republicans  are really looking for ways to say no?

KARL: Well, in fact, Democrats up here are saying that these days Republicans are even saying no to their own ideas. Just look at the last few weeks. Senate Republicans reversed course dramatically on how to reduce the deficit...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center