CBS Early Show Promotes Palin-Bashing Vanity Fair Article

Erica Hill and Michael Joseph Gross, CBS On Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill interviewed Vanity Fair reporter Michael Joseph Gross about his article slamming Sarah Palin with outlandish accusations: "...we've watched Sarah Palin go from a small town hockey mom and the mayor to international celebrity....it certainly changed her, that's according to a rather unflattering new article in Vanity Fair magazine. "

Talking to Gross, Hill noted how he "had a tough time...getting to people who are close to Sarah Palin," but wondered: "...tell us about the people you did speak to who are around her....What kind of an impression did they give you of Sarah Palin?" Gross detailed some of the wild claims made by his questionable sources: "They'd tell stories about screaming fits, about throwing things....where Sarah and Todd will empty the pantry of canned goods, throwing them at each other until the front of the refrigerator looks like it's been shot up by a shot gun." Taken in by the story, Hill simply replied: "Wow."

Gross continued, alleging that Palin "tortured" former assistants, one of whom "had to quit the job, seek psychiatric counseling, and leave the state to escape Palin's influence." He asserted: "...[Palin] exacts retribution on people after they leave. They're afraid that she's going to get them fired from their job, try to ruin their reputations. That's the modus operandi." Earlier in the interview, he described Palin's current political activity as an effort to exact "a kind of vengeance on the country for rejecting her" in the 2008 election.

Hill seemed puzzled about Palin's refusal to talk to Gross for the vicious hit piece: "These are all some pretty strong allegations. You tried to get in touch....with Sarah Palin, with her media people....Did they tell you why they wouldn't speak with you?" Gross replied: "I tried everything. I tried sending messages through her father, through her hairdresser. I spent almost three weeks in Wasilla." Hill wrapped up the segment by endorsing the smear: "It's a fascinating article. It's a fascinating read."

Prior to Hill's interview with Gross, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on the Vanity Fair attack: "The story portrays Palin as leading a life shrouded in secrecy, using fear to control those around her." One accusation she highlighted: "The article gives new details about Palin's heavily publicized campaign spending habits, saying she purchased over 400 items, including $3,000 on underwear and $20,000 on a new wardrobe for her husband, Todd." A sound bite was featured from Politico's Andrew Barr, who proclaimed: "...it seems like they're [the Palins] going around, trying to, you know, bilk the RNC and others for as much money as they could get."

Cordes also noted: "Gross claims that before [Levi] Johnston issued a public apology to Palin, she met with him privately and demanded to know if he was wearing a wire." She then touted how the Early Show provided a platform to Johnston yet again last week: "In an exclusive interview with the Early Show last Friday, Levi said he regretted making that statement [the apology]."   

Here is a full transcript of the September 2 segment:
8:30AM TEASE

ERICA HILL: Also ahead, we've watched Sarah Palin go from a small town hockey mom and the mayor to international celebrity. That kind of sudden fame can change anyone. And it certainly changed her, that's according to a rather unflattering new article in Vanity Fair magazine. We're going to speak with the author of that article, who followed Palin on the trail for months, spoke to dozens of people who know her. We'll see the picture that he says emerged.

8:40AM SEGMENT

ERICA HILL: For two years now, Sarah Palin has been in the national spotlight. Making a political impact that's felt from Washington to Hollywood and, of course, in Alaska. Her life has changed and so has her family's. And as CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes tells us, those changes, according to a new report, aren't always flattering.

SARAH PALIN: We must restore America-

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Inside Palin's World; New Revelations About Fmr. Alaska Governor]

NANCY CORDES: She's the Republican Party's top draw. And Sarah Palin's influence appears to be growing. She's backed 20 winning candidates in this year's primaries. But in an article published in this month's Vanity Fair, author Michael Joseph Gross claims Palin is not who she appears to be. The story portrays Palin as leading a life shrouded in secrecy, using fear to control those around her.

ANDREW BARR [REPORTER, POLITICO.COM]: Everyone who was leaking, who was talking to the press has been cut out of her circle.

CORDES: The article gives new details about Palin's heavily publicized campaign spending habits, saying she purchased over 400 items, including $3,000 on underwear and $20,000 on a new wardrobe for her husband, Todd.

BARR: If you look through the campaign e-mails, if you look through disclosures, it seems like they're going around, trying to, you know, bilk the RNC and others for as much money as they could get.

CORDES: The article also sheds light on Palin's public feud with her daughter's former fiancee, Levi Johnston. Gross claims that before Johnston issued a public apology to Palin, she met with him privately and demanded to know if he was wearing a wire. In an exclusive interview with the Early Show last Friday, Levi said he regretted making that statement.

LEVI JOHNSTON: The only thing I wish I wouldn't have done is put out that apology, because it kind of makes me sound like a liar.

CORDES: Palin has not commented on the article. In two weeks she will headline a GOP event in Iowa, adding to the speculation about her political plans for 2012. Nancy Cordes, CBS News, Washington.

Vanity Fair Palin Article, CBS HILL: Joining us now is Vanity Fair writer Michael Joseph Gross. His article, 'Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury,' is in the magazine's upcoming issue. Good to have you with us this morning.

MICHAEL JOSEPH GROSS: Thanks for having me.

HILL: You said the most important quote in this article is, 'we weren't good enough for America.' Why do you feel that's the most important quote that you have there?

GROSS: When Sarah Palin got back to Wasilla after the election, she was in her house. The people from the Republican Party were trying to collect the clothing that had been purchased for return. She was talking to one of her children and she was crying and she said, 'we weren't good enough for America. We'll never be good enough for America.' I think she felt so rejected by this election that what we're seeing subsequently has been a kind of vengeance on the country for rejecting her. I think what she's doing is plugging into a similar sense of rejection among millions of people out there who feel like they're not good enough.

HILL: You had a tough time, you say, getting to people who are close to Sarah Palin, let alone Sarah Palin. First, tell us about the people you did speak to who are around her, who had been close in her camps. What kind of an impression did they give you of Sarah Palin?

GROSS: The people who've been closest to her describe a temper that at first I couldn't even believe could be true. They'd tell stories about screaming fits, about throwing things. We're talking about everybody from friends who've stayed with the Palins, who've witnessed events where Sarah and Todd will empty the pantry of canned goods, throwing them at each other until the front of the refrigerator looks like it's been shot up by a shot gun.

HILL: Wow.

GROSS: Everything from that to former assistants who've been so tortured by Palin that, in one case, one had to quit the job, seek psychiatric counseling, and leave the state to escape Palin's influence. Because everybody who's worked with her has seen the way that she exacts retribution on people after they leave. They're afraid that she's going to get them fired from their job, try to ruin their reputations. That's the modus operandi.

HILL: These are all some pretty strong allegations. You tried to get in touch with the Palin – with Sarah Palin, with her media people. A) Were you successful? And B) Did they tell you why they wouldn't speak with you? Because they didn't for this article.

GROSS: The only responses that I received from them were that my request was under consideration. There was never any resolution to the conversation. That message was sent multiple times. And I tried everything. I tried sending messages through her father, through her hairdresser. I spent almost three weeks in Wasilla. So-

HILL: Good to have you with us. It's a fascinating article. It's a fascinating read.

GROSS: Thank you.

HILL: Thanks for being with us. Michael Joseph Gross joining us from Vanity Fair.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC