Teasing an upcoming segment on Thursday’s CBS Early Show about new attacks on Sarah Palin by the father of her grandson, Levi Johnston, co-host Maggie Rodriguez exclaimed: "And shocking allegations that could shatter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s conservative family image. If she chooses to believe what Levi Johnston is saying."
In the later report on Johnston’s Vanity Fair rant against Palin, correspondent Kelly Wallace claimed he "took off the gloves" and "debunks the popular image of Palin as hockey mom and moose hunter, telling...that ‘she doesn’t hunt, doesn’t read, doesn’t work hard, doesn’t spend time with her family, but instead spends all night alone in her bedroom.’" Wallace continued: "As for Sarah and Todd’s marriage, Johnston says they constantly threatened each other with divorce. ‘Once the cameras would leave, they didn’t talk to each other. I’ve never seen them sleep in the same bedroom.’"
After Wallace’s report, Rodriguez briefly mentioned: "And when we talked last April, he made similar claims to me and Sarah Palin said he’s lying, he just wants publicity, he just wants his little moment in the spotlight...my guess would be she would probably say something along those lines." Co-host Harry Smith then turned to Rodriguez and asked: "Because you’ve met him, you’ve interviewed him. Does he seem like – seem credible to you?" Rodriguez simply replied: "I don’t know. How could I possibly answer that?"
Unlike the Early Show’s accepting coverage of Johnston’s outrageous claims, NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America raised serious questions about his credibility. On Today, correspondent Norah O’Donnell covered the story: "Levi Johnston is pretty much trashing Palin publicly, saying she complained about her workload as governor, didn’t cook for her kids and tried to keep Bristol’s pregnancy secret. But is he telling the truth or is this just another ploy for publicity?"
O’Donnell later pointed out: "Levi is also challenging Palin’s image as an outdoorsman....But in this media photo-op this year, Palin is seen picking fish, like salmon, off set-nets in Bristol Bay, something she’s done for more than 20 years." The segment featured Palin critic, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, and even she was appalled by Johnston: "I think the article makes Levi Johnston just looks like a ‘kiss and tell’ creep. Almost anybody can become a celebrity. Levi Johnston’s claim to fame is that he got his girlfriend pregnant."
On Good Morning America, correspondent Bill Weir treated Johnston’s claims with similar incredulity: "His story contradicts virtually everything America knows about the former governor and it is counter to the praises he once sang to Larry King." After citing Johnston’s claim that Palin resigned as Alaska governor to "make good money" Weir pointed out: "As for Johnston’s efforts to cash in, the self-described ‘country guy’ who didn’t want to put himself in front of thousands of people on the campaign, recently walked the red carpet at the teen choice awards. And during the Vanity Fair photo shoot, admitted that he would be willing to pose for Playgirl."
In response to Weir’s report, frustrated co-host Diane Sawyer wondered: "When does he stop? Does he stop now?"
Here is a full transcript of the Early Show segment:
HARRY SMITH: The father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild is talking again. Someone won’t be pleased. We’ll tell you what Levi Johnston is saying.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And shocking allegations that could shatter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s conservative family image. If she chooses to believe what Levi Johnston is saying.
SMITH: Also coming up, we’re getting a look at Sarah Palin’s house from a little bit different perspective, the father of her grandchild. The former Governor of Alaska probably will not be pleased at what the Levi Johnston is staying about her parenting skills and some other things and we’ll get to that in a little bit, as well.
SMITH: Coming up, the father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild dishing the dirt about the former Alaska governor. We’ll find details about that when we come back.
RODRIGUEZ: And still ahead here on the Early Show, you will see why former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is probably not happy with what her – the father of her grandchild is saying in a published report.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin surely does not like the publicity she’s getting today. The father of her grandchild, Levi Johnston, is talking about what he claims he saw in the Palin household. CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace has the story.
TANK JONES [VANITY FAIR]: You ever thought about doing Playgirl?
LEVI JOHNSTON: I’d do it. You’d get me in there.
KELLY WALLACE: In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, 19-year-old Levi Johnston doesn’t take off his clothes, but he does take off the gloves. ‘There wasn’t much parenting in that house, Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cook, the kids would do it all themselves.’
SARAH PALIN: They say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, lipstick.
WALLACE: Johnston debunks the popular image of Palin as hockey mom and moose hunter, telling Vanity Fair that ‘she doesn’t hunt, doesn’t read, doesn’t work hard, doesn’t spend time with her family, but instead spends all night alone in her bedroom.’ As for Sarah and Todd’s marriage, Johnston says they constantly threatened each other with divorce. ‘Once the cameras would leave, they didn’t talk to each other. I’ve never seen them sleep in the same bedroom.’ And when it came to Levi and Bristol’s baby, ‘Sarah told me she had a great idea, we would keep it a secret, nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant. After Tripp was born, Sarah would pay more attention to our son than she would to her own baby, Trig. I couldn’t believe it when she would come over to us and sometimes say, playing around, no, I don’t want the retarded baby, I want the other one, and pick up Tripp.’ Johnston spoke to the Early Show last April.
LEVI JOHNSTON: We’re not cashing in on her name, you know. I’m just trying to get my side of the story out there.
WALLACE: Kelly Wallace, CBS News, New York.
RODRIGUEZ: And when we talked last April, he made similar claims to me and Sarah Palin said he’s lying, he just wants publicity, he just wants his little moment in the spotlight. So even though she hasn’t responded to this, my guess would be she would probably say something along those lines.
SMITH: Because you’ve met him, you’ve interviewed him. Does he seem like – seem credible to you?
RODRIGUEZ: I – I don’t know. How could I possibly answer that?