CBS’s Chen Slams Sarah Palin for Criticizing Media

Julie Chen, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen reacted to a recent interview Sarah Palin gave to film maker John Ziegler for his new documentary about media bias in the 2008 election: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is lashing out at the media. She says she was treated unfairly on the campaign trail, and as part of a documentary called ‘Media Malpractice.’"

After airing a brief report on the documentary, in which correspondent Thalia Assuras focused on Palin’s criticism of CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, Chen spoke to political analysts Bay Buchanan and Joe Lockhart. Near the end of the segment, Chen asked Buchanan: "After she did part one of her interview with Katie Couric, she said in this documentary she knew it did not go well. I mean, whose fault is that?"

Buchanan replied: "Oh, there -- and I think it was her fault. But number one, she should never have been on with Katie Couric...A good campaign manager, a good media person, starts them in easy, puts them in with friendly people, gets them to get a little used to that." Chen vigorously defended Couric and attacked Palin: "If she can't -- wait, but if she can't hold her own against a TV journalist, how should the American people expect her to hold her own against world leaders, or terrorists, or anyone else who might have an impact on the lives of Americans?"

Buchanan then explained: "She's [Palin] a very competent person...and she was put up against somebody who's a very unfriendly, angry kind of a person, who you knew was going to attack her." Chen interrupted: "I have to disagree with you there." Buchanan continued: "And in addition to that, in addition to that, you only do 15 or 20-minute interviews. You don't do long, lengthy, two, three-day interviews. That was absurd-" Chen interjected: "Why not? We've got to get to know her."

In contrast to Chen’s scrutiny of Palin, following a December 18 report on people questioning Caroline Kennedy’s qualifications for the New York Senate seat, Chen declared: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that’s it. Leave her alone, everyone."

Earlier in the Friday segment, Joe Lockhart, a former Bill Clinton advisor, also went after Palin: "These interviews she did, it wasn't just the interview with Katie, she just didn't do a good job. She didn't seem prepared. She didn't seem prepared on the substance. And blaming the media, blaming the bloggers, blaming Katie Couric, blaming her staff, all of those things she did. One thing she didn't do was say that ‘maybe I didn't do as well as I could have.’"

Here is the full transcript of the Friday segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: And Palin fights back. The Alaska Governor says she and her family have been savaged by the media.

SARAH PALIN: Come attack me, but when you make a suggestion like that, that certainly attacks a kid, that kills me.

CHEN: We'll tell you what else she had to say.

7:12AM TEASE:

CHEN: Up next, Sarah Palin fights back, saying the media treated her unfairly.

7:15AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is lashing out at the media. She says she was treated unfairly on the campaign trail, and as part of a documentary called 'Media Malpractice.' CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports.

THALIA ASSURAS: In the excerpts, Sarah Palin takes the media to task, starting with the coverage of her family, including her pregnant teenage daughter.

TINA FEY [AS SARAH PALIN]: I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.

SARAH PALIN: Cool, fine, come attack me, but when you make a suggestion like that, that certainly attacks a kid, that kills me.

ASSURAS: There's also her reaction to the interview by CBS's Katie Couric.

PALIN: Oh, I knew it didn't go well.

ASSURAS: Governor Palin blames her campaign staff and the editing. As for that infamous question about what she reads-

KATIE COURIC [ON LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN]: Nobody's really asked her, why didn't you answer that question?

PALIN: Because Katie, you're not the center of everybody's universe. To me the question was more along the lines of do you read? What do you guys do up there?

ASSURAS: Documentary maker John Ziegler explains his goal.

JOHN ZIEGLER: My goal in interviewing Sarah Palin, and my goal for this entire documentary, is to set the historical record straight. I think that an injustice was done.

ASSURAS: But would Palin enter the national political fray again?

PALIN: Sometimes when I open up the paper in the morning and I see something that I know has to be corrected and yet disappointedly realize they're not going to correct it anyway, so what's the use? That's a good question. I would -- I would do it again, though.

ASSURAS: To be continued. Thalia Assuras, CBS News, Washington.

CHEN: Joining us now are political analysts, Bay Buchanan and Joe Lockhart. Good morning to you both.

JOE LOCKHART: Morning.

BAY BUCHANAN: Hi there, Julie.

CHEN: Bay, let me begin with you. How do you think Sarah Palin came across in this interview?

BAY BUCHANAN: I think she came across as very authentic and genuine, but we knew that about her. But I think in addition to that, she was extremely articulate, very fluid, no bitterness. I think she was reflective and thoughtful, laid out what she believed happened. But I saw no bitterness in her, which made me very happy. I can't stand it when you start analyzing things and you think you're a victim. And I don't think she portrays herself as that, she thinks unfair treatment, but not a victimhood.

CHEN: Okay. Joe, how about you?

JOE LOCKHART: I got to disagree on that, I think she did portray herself as a victim. The one thing she didn't do, which, beyond the authenticity, would have helped her a lot, was take some responsibility. These interviews she did, it wasn't just the interview with Katie, she just didn't do a good job. She didn't seem prepared. She didn't seem prepared on the substance. And blaming the media, blaming the bloggers, blaming Katie Couric, blaming her staff, all of those things she did. One thing she didn't do was say that 'maybe I didn't do as well as I could have.'

CHEN: Bay what's your-

BUCHANAN: You know, she-

CHEN: Yeah, go ahead.

BUCHANAN: Joe, I think on the one issue, certainly the question from Katie Couric about the reading, she took responsibility. She said she thought it was a belittling kind of a question, and that's -- she explained why she didn't answer it, but she admitted that 'I should have answered it. I did poorly. That wasn't a wise decision on my part.' So I thought she did take some responsibility. And where she blames the media, I think, in a kind of a way that she really holds them responsible, is not when they attack on her, but they attack on her family or children. And I think all parents would be sympathetic to that. I think the media really was way off base, and somebody should have called them on it.

CHEN: Joe, you want to respond to that?

LOCKAHART: Well, I think the most compelling part of the interview was the beginning when she talked about how her family was treated unfairly and she went after bloggers, very rightfully so, and they should be criticized because it was outrageous, some of the things that was done on the internet about her family. But beyond that, you know, I don't think she took responsibility, and she was pointing the finger of blame. You know, she took issue with something on Saturday Night Live, and that goes to maybe she just doesn't understand the game as well as she should. When you go on a program like that with a big audience, you're going on for a reason, to try to get people to like you and to vote for you. And you know they're going to poke fun at you, and they know that you have a very good sense of what's, you know, on the line and over the line. I do think the best part about her interview, and where she was the most effective, is when she talked about how things in her family are off limits, and the people who were repeating rumors were wrong, and they were wrong.

CHEN: Bay, let me ask you this.

BUCHANAN: Go ahead.

CHEN: After she did part one of her interview with Katie Couric, she said in this documentary she knew it did not go well. I mean, whose fault is that?

BUCHANAN: Oh, there -- and I think it was her fault. But number one, she should never have been on with Katie Couric-

CHEN: Why not?

BUCHANAN: -under any circumstances. Because you don't-

CHEN: If she can't -- wait, but if she can't hold her own against a TV journalist, how should the American people expect her to hold her own against world leaders, or terrorists, or anyone else who might have an impact on the lives of Americans?

BUCHANAN: Julie, Julie, Julie, she was -- what was she? Two weeks out from going from Alaska to the national scene, she was new on the national scene. A good campaign manager, a good media person, starts them in easy, puts them in with friendly people, gets them to get a little used to that. She's a very competent person-

CHEN: So it sounds like-

BUCHANAN: -and she was put up against somebody who's a very unfriendly, angry kind of a person, who you knew was going to attack her-

CHEN: I have to disagree with you there-

BUCHANAN: And in addition to that, in addition to that, you only do 15 or 20-minute interviews. You don't do long, lengthy, two, three-day interviews. That was absurd-

CHEN: Why not? We've got to get to know her.

BUCHANAN: Because -- because it's really stupid politics. Because you want to make certain that the only thing you give the media is that which you want them to use. Your message, your point.

CHEN: We got to go.

BUCHANAN: And you can so that in 10 to 15 minutes. You don't need two days to do that.

CHEN: The machine is going to take us, Bay Buchanan, Joe Lockhart, thank you both.

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