CNN’s Ed Henry: Palin Trip to UN ‘Like Speed Dating with World Leaders’

CNN’s Ed Henry introduced a new and odd adage about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s trip to the United Nations on Tuesday’s American Morning. Instead of trying something similar to the "education" line that CBS’s Julie Chen used, the White House correspondent focused on how the McCain campaign was "trying to cram a lot in for Sarah Palin over the next two days in New York:" "It's like speed dating with world leaders. In the span of just 30 hours in New York, Sarah Palin will meet with nine major international players during the U.N.'s General Assembly meetings, from the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan, to Henry Kissinger and the rock star Bono -- all aimed at beefing up Palin's thin foreign policy chops" [see video at right].

[Audio available here.]

Without going into the grouping of a mega-rock star like U2 front-man Bono with Hamid Karzai, Henry’s "speed dating" line might raise some eyebrows over possible sexism in the media, given how the female Alaska governor is meeting with these nine world leaders, all of whom are men. Katie Couric could be consulted with this matter, given what she said about the coverage Hillary Clinton received during the Democratic primaries.

After giving this introduction to his report, which began 53 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, Henry played three sound bites, one each from CNN regulars Hilary Rosen of the Huffington Post and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and one from James Hoge of the Council of Foreign Relations. Interestingly enough, Hoge, a former publisher of the New York Daily News, compared Palin’s visit to the UN to Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe earlier this year: "I think they [the McCain campaign] want to show, just as Obama did when he went to Germany and gave a speech in Berlin and so on, that she is comfortable on the international scene, that she can hold her own in conversations with foreign leaders."

Ed Henry, CNN White House Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgTowards the end of his report, Henry detailed how Palin’s UN visit is "going to be pretty low-risk, sort of quick photo-op. She's not even going to be taking questions from the media, Kiran, so that makes it very, very low-risk, and that's what the campaign wants, obviously, right now. They want to just put the image out there that she's getting up to speed on foreign policy."

The full transcript of Ed Henry’s report from Tuesday’s American Morning:

KIRAN CHETRY: You know, Sarah Palin is just one of the big names who will be here in New York for a big day at the United Nations. President Bush, as well as Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are also among the speakers set to address the U.N. General Assembly today. President Bush's speech is set to begin at 10:30 Eastern this morning, and Sarah Palin's arrival here in New York last night also signals her arrival on the world stage. She will have meetings today with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, as well as the presidents of Iraq and Colombia. Joining me now with a look at the plan for Palin is our Ed Henry. Hi, there, Ed.

ED HENRY: Good morning, Kiran. It's interesting. Obviously, she's trying to get ready for that upcoming vice president debate with Joe Biden, who is an expert on foreign affairs, and the McCain camp is trying to cram a lot in for Sarah Palin over the next two days in New York, and her allies believe that she has the poise to pass this test.

Photos of the nine world leaders Sarah Palin is meeting with, including Hamid Karzai, Afghan President; and Bono, U2 singer | NewsBusters.orgHENRY (voice-over): It's like speed dating with world leaders. In the span of just 30 hours in New York, Sarah Palin will meet with nine major international players during the U.N.'s General Assembly meetings, from the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan, to Henry Kissinger and the rock star Bono -- all aimed at beefing up Palin's thin foreign policy chops.

JAMES HOGE, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: And I think they want to show, just as Obama did when he went to Germany and gave a speech in Berlin and so on, that she is comfortable on the international scene, that she can hold her own in conversations with foreign leaders.

HENRY: But Democrats warn that carefully scripted photo-ops -- some of which will include John McCain -- may backfire, by bringing more attention to the holes in Palin's resume.

HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The big risk they run with this strategy of having her meet with these leaders individually is that they end up with three days of stories about how she doesn't have foreign policy experience.

HENRY: But Republicans say Palin is just following in the footsteps of national candidates like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- one-time governors who needed to bone up on international policy.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The first thing you do is burnish their foreign policy credentials. You buy them a Rand McNally. They meet with generals. You get a lot of flags on the stage and you give a big speech on foreign policy, to display you have some command of the world.

HENRY (on-camera): But Sarah Palin will not be going so far as to deliver a major address on foreign policy. Instead, this is going to be pretty low-risk, sort of quick photo-op. She's not even going to be taking questions from the media, Kiran, so that makes it very, very low-risk, and that's what the campaign wants, obviously, right now. They want to just put the image out there that she's getting up to speed on foreign policy.

CHETRY: All right. It will be very interesting if we find out later what was discussed between these world leaders.

HENRY: What was really going on behind close doors.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly. All right. Ed Henry, good to see you in person.

HENRY: Good to see you.

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