Oops! Frequent Maddow Guest Cox Undercuts Nicolle Wallace's Catty Claims About Palin

Don't be surprised if McCain '08 campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace passes up future chances to vent for Rachel Maddow.

Wallace did not appear on the Maddow show, agreeing instead to go on the record off-camera with her criticisms of Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue: An American Life."

Maddow told viewers of her MSNBC show Tuesday that John McCain held a conference call Nov. 13 and asked that if they wanted to respond to Palin's book, to "at least avoid being interviewed about the book on TV," Maddow said --

MADDOW: The Rachel Maddow show, however, has been able to do an off-camera but on-the-record interview with one of Palin's main targets in the book. She is campaign senior adviser Nicolle Wallace. Palin blames her in the book for her expensive wardrobe being charged to the Republican Party, for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric, and for a lot else besides.

On the Couric interview, Palin writes that Nicole Wallace pushed her into that interview for dubious reasons, saying "Nicolle went on to explain that Katie really needed a career boost. 'She just has such low self-esteem,' Nicolle said. She added that Katie was going through a tough time. 'She just feels she can't trust anybody.' I was thinking, And this has to do with John McCain's campaign how?  Nicolle said, 'She wants you to like her.' Hearing all that I almost started feeling sorry for her."

Asked if that was accurate, Nicolle Wallace told us this -- "The whole notion there was a conversation where I tried to cajole her into a conversation with Katie is fiction ... I am not someone who throws around the word 'self-esteem.' It is a fictional description. Katie Couric was selected because we did evening anchors. ... I did not advocate an interview with anyone I am friends with."

Gov. Palin was also asked by Oprah Winfrey about the Katie Couric interview. (footage shown of Palin on Oprah show)

WINFREY: You do say that it wasn't your best interview. Were you prepped for that interview?

PALIN: Not so much because it was supposed to be kind of a light-hearted, fun, working mom speaking with working mom and the challenges that we have with teenage daughters ...

MADDOW: Nicolle Wallace told us that that too is not at all accurate. She says, "We set up this interview on the day of the U.N. General Assembly, with a walk-and-talk in front of the U.N. It was never made as two working gals. It's either rationalization or justification or fiction. That was supposed to be to highlight her foreign policy savvy (in the context of) the U.N. General Assembly. The picture is in front of the U.N. to highlight her expertise and readiness to be vice president -- it wasn't about two working gals."

Finally, when asked for her overall reaction to "Going Rogue"'s theme, that the Republican ticket in 2008 would have been more successful if the campaign had just followed Gov. Palin's instincts rather than those of people like Wallace and campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace gave us this response -- "I think she has probably a legitimate complaint that things could have been better conceived and executed. A book about that would have been painful but not entirely unfair. What she gets wrong is this personalization that Schmidt and I were these lone villains -- and that took place entirely in her imagination.

"Just like the Obama and Clinton campaigns, we were consensus driven. ... I think she fixated on me from very early on. She hated me from the beginning. I try not to take it personally; the fact is that she wrote a book based on fabrications. She gave a brilliant convention speech -- other interviews that inspired support. But this book is a bizarre fixation on things that everyone else has moved on from.

With the notable exception of Nicolle Wallace. Maddow then introduced Air America Radio host and former Wonkette blogger Ana Marie Cox, who wasted no time undercutting Wallace's claims --

MADDOW: So you spent a lot of time covering the campaign, you obviously know Nicolle Wallace from then. What do you make of her rebuttal to Sarah Palin? Does that sound like her voice to you?

COX: It sounds very much like her voice to me and it sounds pretty, end of discussion to me, almost about the book in general. I think that Nicolle speaks about, she has the same feelings about the book that a lot of the other senior staffers have, which is that there are things that sound like they happened, they involve the same people in the same, you know, scenes like at the UN, but that actually, the words that are exchanged and the background to those stories is just not true.

MADDOW: In terms of that last very personal quote from Nicolle Wallace saying, she told us that Sarah Palin 'hated me from the beginning.' From your experience covering the campaign, again, was the relationship between Palin and the staffers quite personally heated or at odds? Was there a lot of personal friction?

COX: There, see, one of those things that's sort of strange to me, in reading the book, in reading the back and forth between them now, is that at the beginning I didn't sense that at all. I should say, I covered Sarah Palin very briefly and did not get to know her or her staff the way that I got to know the McCain staff, having traveled with them through the primaries and the general election.

It was clear by the end of the campaign that there is a lack of patience, let's say, among the senior staffers for Sarah Palin. I never saw it as hate and I wonder when that started and if it might not have started for Sarah Palin after the campaign was over. And so she sort of projected backwards to the very beginning.

"She" being Palin -- or Wallace?

Cox's remarks are more credible if one name is substituted for another -- I never saw it as hate and I wonder when that started and if it might not have started for Nicolle Wallace after the campaign was over. And so she sort of projected backwards to the very beginning.

You know, with that curiously similar timeframe that Wallace provided to Maddow -- "from the beginning." 

Cox was also a guest on Maddow's show the preceding Friday and based on Maddow's introduction of her that night, and their remarks on Tuesday, it's hardly a stretch to conclude that Cox persuaded Wallace to go on the record for Maddow.

Here's how Maddow introduced Cox on Friday (as seen in the third segment of the embedded video) --

MADDOW: Joining us now, the most sentient person with good sources in the McCain camp who will agree to come on this show ...

Notice also how on Maddow's show Tuesday Cox described her experience covering the '08 campaign -- "I covered Sarah Palin very briefly and did not get to know her or her staff the way I got to know the McCain staff, having traveled with them through the primaries and the general election."

... cultivating Wallace as a source all the while. Funny how Cox's campaign coverage provided her with just enough distance from Palin as needed in the future, but plenty of proximity to summarily dismiss Palin's assertions in the book.

Cox also had this to say about Palin on Maddow's show Tuesday (at end of second part of embedded video) --

COX: I'd also like to say that all the McCain staffers I talked to, not a single one of them believes that she even wants to run for elected office ever again. They see her as having grabbed as much of the spotlight as she can. She's interested in being as big a celebrity as she can. But I think that there's a fundamental realization, I think she must realize it too, she cannot run for office having written a book like this. This kind of score-settling book, who would ever work for Sarah Palin again after reading this?

Just as Wallace must be wondering -- will Republicans ever hire me again after I've spilled my guts to moonbats like Maddow and Cox?

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts