Did Chris Matthews Twist Palin's Israel Reply to ABC's Gibson?

On the September 12 edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews so twisted what Governor Sarah Palin said in reply to Charlie Gibson's question about Israel's defense decisions that her reply is hardly recognizable in Matthews' hands. By slyly adding his own additions to Gibson's question and Palin's reply, Matthews attempted to make Palin look naive on the foreign policy question. In essence, Matthews lied about what Palin said.

Matthews made a knot out of Palin's words, like taking a straw and tying it in a knot. It's still a straw, but it is no longer useful for what it was intended. With his underhanded additions to Palin's answer, Matthews made her words no longer fit the situation.

Harball Transcript:

Chris Matthews: What did you make of her answer when she was asked four times by Charlie Gibson, what would you do if the government of Israel….called us up and said we are ready to hit Iran, we think we got the bead on where their nuclear facilities are, we want some help with AWACS, some intelligence, we want some radar, we want some refueling help.

And the answer isn’t, well let’s talk about it because we’ve got a lot riding on that part of the world in history and we know a lot and we’ve got interests over there too and say, “Oh we’d never second guess you Prime Minister.” To me, that sounds like the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard from an American politician.

To say you wouldn’t second-guess an ally that said they’re gonna hit another country with our help and they want our help and we wouldn’t think about it, we’d just go along with them? Does that make sense, wouldn’t second-guess an ally?

John Binkley: Well as I recall, she said she wouldn’t stand in the way.

Chris Matthews: No, she said she wouldn’t second guess, four times. Four times she says we won’t second-guess Israel when they ask us to help them attack another country. Wouldn’t second-guess, wouldn’t think about it, isn’t that an extraordinary statement? For any ally, whether it is England, France, Israel or anybody?

The problem with Matthews elaboration of what really occurred on the Gibson interview is that Charlie Gibson never asked the sort of question Matthews poses.

Gibson didn't ask Palin what she would do if Israel came to us to ask for help in attacking another country. He asked her what her reaction would be if they had already attacked, but did not propose we were being asked for assistance.

In that case, Palin's reply was that she wouldn't second-guess their decision.

But, being asked to actually assist Israel in an attack is a far different question than one that posits that Israel had attacked (or was going to) and what her reaction to that would be.

Yes, Matthews basically lied about the exchange.

Transcript of relevant part of Gibson interview with Palin:

Charlie Gibson:What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

Sarah Palin:Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

Gibson:So if we wouldn’t second-guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would be cooperative or agree with that.

Palin:I don’t think we can second-guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

Gibson:So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

Palin:We cannot second-guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

Notice that Gibson didn't ask Palin if Israel asked for our help?

What Matthews casually added onto the Gibson question changes the situation in a major way and that was a situation that Palin was not asked to respond to. Now, I won't presume to say what Sarah Palin would have said in reply to Chris Matthews more elaborate question, but there just is no doubt that she was not asked such a detailed question.

In any case, Matthews' outrage is itself an outrage. It is also dishonest of him in the extreme.

(H/T Mike Francesa)