CNN’s John Roberts: Palin Might Neglect Her Disabled Infant?

CNN’s John Roberts, after briefly alluding to the issue of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s experience he called into question earlier on Friday’s "Newsroom" program, asked correspondent Dana Bash about how the Alaska governor’s newborn son with Down’s syndrome might be affected if she were elected: "There's also this issue that on April 18th, she gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome.... Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?"

Bash deftly answered this question, which has the implication that Palin could neglect her infant son, and made a possible counter-argument the McCain camp would use, that a question like Roberts’ would be sexist: "That's a very good question, and I guess -- my guess is that, perhaps, the line inside the McCain campaign would be, if it were a man being picked who also had a baby, but -- you know, four months ago with Down's Syndrome, would you ask the same question?"

The CNN correspondent continued by briefly describing the Palin’s family situation and the thinking that may have gone into the situation for both McCain and Palin herself. She concluded by reporting on the Alaska governor’s appeal to social conservatives because she is "very staunchly anti-abortion," in Bash’s words.

The full transcript of the exchange between John Roberts and Dana Bash, which began 7 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour of CNN’s "Newsroom" [audio available here]:

JOHN ROBERTS: You know, there's one other issue -- we've talked about her experience and what depth of experience she has; the fact that maybe she tries to peel off a few women voters on the Democratic side, who really wanted to see a woman in the White House in some way, shape, or form. There's also this issue that on April 18th, she gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome.

John Roberts, CNN Anchor & Dana Bash, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgDANA BASH: Yes.

ROBERTS: The baby is just slightly more than four months old now. Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?

BASH: That's a very good question, and I guess -- my guess is that, perhaps, the line inside the McCain campaign would be, if it were a man being picked who also had a baby, but -- you know, four months ago with Down's Syndrome, would you ask the same question? And that might be another way to kind of, you know, kind of close the gender gap in trying to make the point that, yes, she not only has, unfortunately, a baby with Down's Syndrome, but she has five children, the oldest of whom is apparently going -- is in the Army and going to head off to Iraq in the fall. So, you know, it absolutely is going to be a question that she is going to have to answer, and there's no question that she had to do soul-searching and figure out if she could take this on when John McCain made clear that he wanted her to be her [sic] running mate, and it is going to be one of the interesting things that we are going to be able to hear from her when she finally does speaks, whether she does address these things here or in subsequent interviews.

That's going to be a fascinating thing, but it also does -- it also does appeal to social conservatives in another way, and that is that, you know, part of her story, if you read her discussions about that baby, is that, you know, she knew before she gave birth to that baby, that it had Down's Syndrome, and she chose to keep the baby. And that is -- that is because she is somebody who is anti-abortion. She is somebody who is very staunchly anti-abortion. That kind of story, also, can help appeal to the social conservatives that John McCain is still trying to win over in his own party.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center