CBS ‘Early Show’: ‘Explosive’ Report On Palin Troopergate

John Blackstone, CBS Early Show, October 10 program | NewsBusters.orgIn preparation for a report on the investigation into whether Sarah Palin fired Alaska’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, for personal reasons, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Palin on the hot seat. Alaska lawmakers set to release a report today on the Troopergate investigation. We'll go live to Alaska for the latest details on the potentially explosive report." Co-host Julie Chen later introduced the segment by explaining: "The McCain-Palin ticket is bracing for what could be an embarrassing report. Lawmakers in Alaska are expected to release the results of an investigation into possible abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin in the so-called Troopergate inquiry."

Correspondent John Blackstone reported: "Well, when the Troopergate report is released later today, it will show that since Sarah Palin became governor, her husband Todd repeatedly and frequently had conversations with government officials, all aimed at having their former brother-in-law, state trooper [Mike Wooten], thrown off the force." Blackstone never made mention of charges made against Wooten that he threatened to shoot Palin’s father, tasered his ten-year-old stepson, or was caught drinking on duty. The closest Blackstone came was to quote the man Palin fired: "Although the trooper has a disciplinary record, [former public safety commissioner Walt] Monegan said in a phone interview last night, he's not a bad cop."

Blackstone also explained that "...in a sworn statement, [Todd] Palin admits: ‘I talked to many people in the Palin administration about Mike Wooten, a trooper divorced from Sarah Palin's sister. I warned about the threat this guy was to me and my family.’" Blackstone again turned to Monegan to refute such claims: "Monegan calls Todd Palin's view of trooper Wooten distorted."

Following the report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked about the issue with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer and wondered: "I'd like to ask you about Troopergate. Do you think that this will be just another distraction from the important issue of the economy or something that could really have an impact on this election?" Calling the upcoming report "potentially explosive" certainly made it sound like more than a "distraction." In addition, on September 17, Rodriguez reported on the controversy and proclaimed: "...why it could haunt her on the campaign trail."

Schieffer replied to Rodriguez: "...out on the campaign trail, you know, both of these candidates are making all these charges, one way or another, but it all comes back, it all seems like such small potatoes." Rodriguez added: "We've seen so much nastiness this week in the campaigns and you ask voters and it's a turn-off. You're right. All they want to hear about and talk about is the economy. So do you think that we'll see those negative ads and all those controversies fade, that the campaigns will both finally say ‘we got to focus solely on the economy?’" While both agreed that the Palin Troopergate story was a distraction from important issues, they both seemed to suggest the same was true of Barack Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers. Considering the Early Show’s failure to ever offer a single complete story on the Obama-Ayers connection while devoting two full stories to Troopergate, it is interesting that now they claim both are distractions.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Palin on the hot seat. Alaska lawmakers set to release a report today on the Troopergate investigation. We'll go live to Alaska for the latest details on the potentially explosive report.

7:02AM TEASER:

RODRIGUEZ: This morning we're also awaiting the release of the official report on Sarah Palin's Troopergate investigation. As you know, she is accused of trying to have this trooper, who'd once been married to her sister, fired for personal reasons. Ahead this morning, we'll go live to Alaska and we'll talk about the possible political implications.

7:09AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: The McCain-Palin ticket is bracing for what could be an embarrassing report. Lawmakers in Alaska are expected to release the results of an investigation into possible abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin in the so-called Troopergate inquiry. The New York Times reports today that Palin, her husband, and her administration repeatedly pressed for a state trooper's dismissal. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone is in Anchorage with the story. John, good morning.

JOHN BLACKSTONE: Hey, good morning, Julie. Well, when the Troopergate report is released later today, it will show that since Sarah Palin became governor, her husband Todd repeatedly and frequently had conversations with government officials, all aimed at having their former brother-in-law, state trooper, thrown off the force. Since Sarah Palin became candidate for vice president, Todd Palin has resisted testifying in the Troopergate investigation. But in a sworn statement, Palin admits: 'I talked to many people in the Palin administration about Mike Wooten, a trooper divorced from Sarah Palin's sister. I warned about the threat this guy was to me and my family.' In the affidavit, Todd Palin says I repeatedly expressed my frustration about Wooten.' It all contradicts the impression Palin gave last summer of making a single complaint about Wooten.

TODD PALIN: Just the one time. You know, just letting them know that -- the public's concern and our concerns.

BLACKSTONE: At the same time, Governor Palin denied those concerns had anything to do with her firing of Wooten's boss, Walt Monegan, the commissioner of public safety.

SARAH PALIN: But absolutely no pressure ever put on Commissioner Monegan to hire or fire anybody at any time.

BLACKSTONE: Monegan, though, says he believes he was fired because of Wooten. Although the trooper has a disciplinary record, Monegan said in a phone interview last night, he's not a bad cop.

WALT MONEGAN: Nobody likes to work with a dirty cop, no one.

BLACKSTONE: Monegan calls Todd Palin's view of trooper Wooten distorted.

MONEGAN: Todd is -- the fact that he says he's been campaigning to talk to just about anybody or everybody about Wooten speaks to the level of his passion or maybe in this case, obsession, in the case.

BLACKSTONE: Now Todd Palin insists there was nothing improper in his conversations. He says Sarah Palin wasn't involved. In fact, he claims that she told him to stop talking about Trooper Wooten. Julie.

CHEN: We'll see what the report says today. CBS's John Blackstone in Anchorage, thanks John. Maggie.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now is Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation. Bob, good morning to you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: I'd like to ask you about Troopergate. Do you think that this will be just another distraction from the important issue of the economy or something that could really have an impact on this election?

SCHIEFFER: It's very difficult to say. This -- this economic situation is so overwhelming, Maggie. It's all anybody is talking about. And out on the campaign trail, you know, both of these candidates are making all these charges, one way or another, but it all comes back, it all seems like such small potatoes when you come back to this -- to this situation that we're seeing developing in these financial markets. I think the issue in this campaign, all anybody is talking about, is this economy. I think that's what's going to have the overwhelming impact. The other things might be minor, minor questions that will come up along the way, but I don't see this campaign getting off this economic -- the economic questions here.

RODRIGUEZ: We've seen so much nastiness this week in the campaigns and you ask voters and it's a turn-off. You're right. All they want to hear about and talk about is the economy. So do you think that we'll see those negative ads and all those controversies fade, that the campaigns will both finally say 'we got to focus solely on the economy?'

SCHIEFFER: There is no question, Maggie, that the McCain would like to change the subject. From the moment that this economic situation developed, John McCain began to go down in the polls in some of these very key states like Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida. He would like to make this election a referendum on Barack Obama, Barack Obama's character, Barack Obama's experience. But I think, again, it's going to be very difficult to get peoples minds focused on that with this economic situation the way it is. This thing is just overwhelming, Maggie. We've never seen anything quite like this.

RODRIGUEZ: So true. I know that you're preparing for two things, Face the Nation this weekend, and to host the last presidential debate next week. Can you give us a taste of what you're planning for both?

SCHIEFFER: Well, for the debate, I'm really going to try to get them to answer the questions. I'm going to be very specific. I'm going to try to get them to follow-up. We'll have about ten-minute segments, about 8 or 9 10-minute segments. I hope we can stay on each issue until we can get down and find out where they really come out on these things. I'm going to try to get them to ask the follow-up questions, if they don't, then I'll bore in. On Face the Nation, coming up Sunday, we're going to have Governor Bill Ritter, Democrat out in Colorado. Most people on both sides say that unless Governor Ritter -- unless John McCain can carry Colorado, he will not be able to get to the White House. We'll talk to him. Lindsey Graham, who of course is Senator McCain's main man in the Senate, will be with us and also Doug Wilder, the former Governor of Virginia, we'll have another Republican along the way from one of those key states.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Bob Schieffer. Always appreciate you being on with us. Thank you

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Maggie.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC