CBS Interviews Levi Johnston Again; Palin Says Network Should Be ‘Ashamed’

Maggie Rodriguez and Levi Johnston, CBS For the third time in six months, the CBS Early Show provided a soap box for Levi Johnston to continue his vicious personal attacks against Sarah Palin, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: “He is back on the offensive in this he-said-she-said battle that began shortly after the presidential election....he says he’s trying to show the world the real Levi.”

During the first part of the exclusive interview, which aired on Wednesday, Rodriguez sympathetically asked: “Are you hurt by all of this?....you really sound like somebody who’s dead set on hurting these people the way they hurt you.” Johnston replied: “...if she’s going to go out there and say stuff to me – about me, I’m going to leak some things on her. I mean that’s just how it is.”

At the end of the second part of the interview, aired on Thursday, Rodriguez read a statement from Palin reacting to Johnston: “‘we have purposefully ignored the mean spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied.’” Palin went on to take the broadcast network to task for even having Johnston on: “CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies.” Rodriguez attempted to justify the repetitive interviews: “...we raised all those questions about credibility and his motivation for doing this with Levi...we should say that we’ve also offered more than a dozen times to interview Sarah Palin, but she has declined each of those requests.”   

During the Wednesday portion of the interview, Rodriguez highlighted one of Johnston’s most abhorrent allegations against Palin: “Levi says Sarah Palin repeatedly joked about her son Trig having Down Syndrome.” Johnston claimed: “you know she’d be like ‘where’s my retarded baby?,’ all of this, and it just wasn’t right.” Rodriguez was highly skeptical of the charge: “Can you understand why that’s really hard to believe that a mother would say that?.... On the trail, we saw her just love and kiss and be all about that baby.” Johnston admitted: “I have no proof of showing you it’s true, but you know, I know it is.”

Later, Rodriguez again questioned Johnston’s credibility: “Why should people believe you versus her?....Do you feel that you’ve betrayed them because your airing this dirty laundry?” Johnston argued: “They don’t really have a reason not to believe me....they were kind of betraying me at the same time, back stabbing me....And so I really don’t care anymore.”

Rodriguez went on to wonder: “Are you going to continue saying things? Could you say more that you haven’t said?” Johnston hinted at having more damaging information: “There are some things that I have that are huge....that would get her in trouble and could hurt her, will hurt her, but I’m not going to go that far. If I really wanted to hurt her, I could very easily.” Rodriguez pressed him: “Things that could get her in trouble as far as what?...That are illegal?...are they illegal or immoral? Or unethical?” Johnston simply offered: “Just things she has done while she was governor....I’m just not going to talk about them.”

During the Thursday portion of the interview, Rodriguez asked Johnston about his upcoming appearance in Playgirl magazine: “What if Sarah Palin and her husband and her family see this and think ‘this is not what we’re all about, this is not someone that we want close to our family’ and this winds up pushing you further apart from them?” Johnston argued: “I don’t think it should matter what – in their eyes – what I’m doing. She’s doing her thing, I’m doing mine. She’s doing her book, she’s quit governor for her money, so I don’t see how – we’re, you know, kind of on the same page here.”

Rodriguez repeated another unsubstantiated accusation from Johnston: “Levi claims Sarah Palin had other ideas about raising their son Tripp, in fact, he says she approached him and Bristol with a plan to hide the pregnancy and then adopt the baby herself.” Johnston explained: “It definitely hurt Bristol. She was – she was almost like in tears. And you know, it was – it wasn’t good....we just kind of blocked it out. We didn’t say anything, you know, and Bristol told her mom to shut up.”

Rodriguez again went after his credibility: “Some people might say you purposely were trying to hurt her and, therefore, maybe exaggerated things. Is that possible?” Johnston flatly denied the charge: “No. I stand by my story 100% and everything is the truth.”

Rodriguez decided to move on and sympathetically asked: “Do you feel that you were exploited by the Palins?” Johnston lamented: “I think they used me in the wong way....Just throwing me in that then saying ‘get out.’ It was, you know, kind of a bad move, it wasn’t right.” Rodriguez added: “So you feel like somebody who’s been used and discarded?” Johnston replied: “Uh-huh. Now that I think about it, see how she really was, you know, I kind of, you know, am mad at myself, that I wasn’t, you know – put my guard up more.”

Nearing the end of the interview, Rodriguez decided to take advantage of Johnston’s political wisdom: “Do you see Sarah Palin in politics in the future?” Johnston concluded: “No, not really....I think her run is over after she quit that governor job, I don’t think a whole lot of people are happy with her.”

After reporting on the release of Johnston’s Vanity Fair article on September 3, Rodriguez referred to one of her earlier interviews with him: “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.” Fellow co-host Harry Smith asked her: “Because you’ve met him, you’ve interviewed him. Does he seem like – seem credible to you?” Rodriguez was unsure: “I don’t know. How could I possibly answer that?”

Here is an excerpt of the Wednesday portion of the interview:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Why should people believe you versus her?

JOHNSTON: I don’t know. They don’t really have a reason not to believe me. I’ve known them since I was little. You know, I’ve – I mean I’ve grown up with them, played hockey with Track, you know, I was dating Bristol for a couple of years now. I mean I was like family in that house.

RODRIGUEZ: So they were saying things because they thought that they could trust you and they thought you were part of the family. Do you feel that you’ve betrayed them because your airing this dirty laundry?

JOHNSTON: Well, that might be true, but at the same time they threw me out there and then that came out that Sarah really didn’t really like me, Todd – I knew Todd didn’t like me. I mean, so they were kind of betraying me at the same time, back stabbing me, you know, just putting on a front to me to make Sarah look good at the convention and everything else. And so I really don’t care anymore.

RODRIGUEZ: Are you hurt by all of this?

JOHNSTON: I was, yeah. Now it’s just kind of like, alright, well – now it’s my turn.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you mean by that?

JOHNSTON: Well, like in Vanity Fair, I’m going to go out – I told a little bit of stuff and you know, I’m just not going to take it anymore.

RODRIGUEZ: But you really sound like somebody who’s dead set on hurting these people the way they hurt you.

JOHNSTON: I’m not really in it to hurt them though.

RODRIGUEZ: That’s what it sounds like, like somebody who’s bent on revenge and getting even, ‘now it’s my turn.’

JOHNSTON: Well, you know, that’s part of it, I guess. But at the same time, you know, if she’s going to go out there and say stuff to me – about me, I’m going to leak some things on her. I mean that’s just how it is.

RODRIGUEZ: Are you going to continue saying things? Could you say more that you haven’t said?

JOHNSTON: There are some things that I have that are huge. And I haven’t said them because I’m not going to hurt her that way.

RODRIGUEZ: So you draw the line somewhere?

JOHNSTON: Yeah. I mean I have things that could – you know – that would get her in trouble and could hurt her, will hurt her, but I’m not going to go that far. If I really wanted to hurt her, I could very easily, but there’s – I’m not going to do it. I’m not going that far.

RODRIGUEZ: Things that could get her in trouble as far as what?

JOHNSTON: Just things she has done while she was governor.

RODRIGUEZ: That are illegal?

JOHNSTON: Yeah, I’m just not going to talk about them.

RODRIGUEZ: But are they illegal or immoral? Or unethical?

JOHNSTON: I’m not going to talk about them.

RODRIGUEZ: So why do you draw the line? Why are some things okay and yet others not okay?

JOHNSTON: You know, because a lot of things I said weren’t that huge. I mean, those are just little – little things I put in Vanity Fair, you know, all the big things I got I’m keep – you know, I’m keeping it in. You know, it’s just something that probably will never come out.

RODRIGUEZ: Has Bristol talked to you since you said all that stuff in Vanity Fair?

JOHNSTON: Yeah, we’ve talked to her. I mean, we don’t talk like at you know – it’s just kind of like ‘hey, how’s the kid – how’s the baby doing? You know, can I come pick him up?’ That kind of thing.

RODRIGUEZ: And she never brought up the Vanity Fair?

JOHNSTON: No.

RODRIGUEZ: That seems odd. It was such a public thing and you said such damning things about her family.

JOHNSTON: I’m sure Sarah’s got something planned, she said ‘don’t say anything to him.’ I’m sure she’s something coming for me.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you think she has coming for you?

JOHNSTON: I don’t know, she might put a few things in the book. You know, I’m not worried about her saying anything about me. You know, I never really done anything bad. You know, I don’t have anything to hide. So, you know, she can go on and say what she wants.

Here is an excerpt from the Thursday portion of the interview:
RODRIGUEZ: Some people might say you purposely were trying to hurt her and, therefore, maybe exaggerated things. Is that possible?

JOHNSTON: No. I stand by my story 100% and everything is the truth.

RODRIGUEZ: Do you feel that you were exploited by the Palins?

JOHNSTON: I think they used me in the wong way.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you mean by that?

JOHNSTON: Just throwing me in that then saying ‘get out.’ It was, you know, kind of a bad move, it wasn’t right.

RODRIGUEZ: So you feel like somebody who’s been used and discarded?

JOHNSTON: Uh-huh. Now that I think about it, see how she really was, you know, I kind of, you know, am mad at myself, that I wasn’t, you know – put my guard up more.

RODRIGUEZ: Do you see Sarah Palin in politics in the future?
                    
JOHNSTON: No, not really.

RODRIGUEZ: How come?

JOHNSTON: I think her run is over after she quit that governor job, I don’t think a whole lot of people are happy with her.

RODRIGUEZ: Is it too late to turn back now? Is it too late to save that relationship, reconcile with the Palins?

JOHNSTON: Well I don’t – yeah, I don’t see myself over there for Christmas or what not. So I don’t know.

RODRIGUEZ: After our interview yesterday, where Levi said that he heard Sarah Palin refer to her son, Trig, who has Down Syndrome, as her ‘retarded baby,’ Palin issued this statement, quote, these are her words, ‘we have purposefully ignored the mean spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied. Trig is our blessed little angel who knows it and is lovingly called that every day of his life. Even the thought that anyone would refer to Trig by any disparaging name is sickening and sad. CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies. Consider the source of the most recent attention-getting lies. Those who would sell their body for money reflect a desperate need for attention and are likely to say and do anything for even more attention.’ Of course you heard we raised all those questions about credibility and his motivation for doing this with Levi and you heard how he answered. But we should say that we’ve also offered more than a dozen times to interview Sarah Palin, but she has declined each of those requests.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC