NBC Revives Barbara Walters' 'Disturbing' Label of Palin

Norah O'Donnell, NBC Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgDuring a report on Thursday’s Today show, NBC News correspondent Norah O’Donnell replayed Barbara Walters’ characterization of Sarah Palin’s recent interview as “disturbing” from Tuesday’s The View. O’Donnell highlighted how the Alaska governor’s comments about how the media treated her versus how it treated Caroline Kennedy “drew a reaction” from the ABC host, and that it was “one more sign that as Palin tries to quiet her critics, she is sparking another loud debate.”

Co-host Matt Lauer introduced O’Donnell’s report: “During the campaign, handlers tried to keep a tight lid on Sarah Palin, but as Barack Obama’s inauguration approaches, she’s speaking out more and more. But how much is too much?” The correspondent then began by highlighting “Sarah Palin’s latest target -- her online critics,” focusing on the governor’s counterattacks against those spreading “smears” about her family. The NBC on-screen graphic hyped how Palin had become “unleashed.”

Besides the issue of the governor attacking her critics in the blogosphere, O’Donnell brought up how Palin specifically has “been on a tear defending her 18-year-old daughter Bristol, who recently had a baby boy named Tripp with her fiance Levi Johnston.” The governor directed much of her ire at the Anchorage Daily News, which she accused of perpetuating the conspiracy theory that her daughter Bristol was the mother of Trig Palin. She concluded her report with the Palin’s criticism of the media and Walters’ response.

The full transcript of Norah O’Donnell’s report, which began 14 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Thursday’s Today show:

MATT LAUER: During the campaign, handlers tried to keep a tight lid on Sarah Palin, but as Barack Obama’s inauguration approaches, she’s speaking out more and more. But how much is too much? Here’s NBC’s Norah O’Donnell.

(NBC NEWS GRAPHIC: “Unleashed: New Attacks From Sarah Palin”)

NORAH O’DONNELL (voice-over): Sarah Palin’s latest target -- her online critics.

ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: Oh, I would love for the names to be on the blog entries so that people are held accountable when they lie.

O’DONNELL: And now telling Esquire magazine she is annoyed by the quote, ‘bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie.’

O’DONNELL (on-camera): Palin says that she doesn’t mind being criticized personally, but when the smears involve her family, that's what makes her angry.

O’DONNELL (voice-over): She’s been on a tear defending her 18-year-old daughter Bristol, who recently had a baby boy named Tripp with her fiance Levi Johnston.

PALIN: This report that Bristol and Levi -- they’re high school dropouts and they’re going to just look for government handouts to raise their child and stuff -- nothing could be further from the truth.

O’DONNELL: On Monday, the Anchorage Daily News posted a scathing e-mail sent by Palin to the paper’s top editor under the subject line ‘More Mistakes?’‘Did you really allow a story to run in your paper today claiming Levi Johnston is a high school dropout?’ She also added, ‘Is your paper really still pursuing this sensational lie that I’m not Trig’s mother? Is it true you have a reporter still bothering my state office in pursuit of your ridiculous conspiracy?’ The paper’s editor admits they have been following up on Trig’s birth, but only in an effort to debunk the conspiracy theories he calls nutty nonsense.

PATRICK DOUGHERTY, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS: The way to put an end to it is not to ignore it, but to engage it.

O’DONNELL: And remember when Palin said she’s being treated differently than Caroline Kennedy?

PALIN: I think that as we watch that, we will, perhaps, be able to prove that there is a class issue.

O’DONNELL: This week, those comments drew a reaction on The View from Barbara Walters.

BARBARA WALTERS: Why she still makes it a class issue is something that especially right now, and when we all want to work together -- I find disturbing.

O’DONNELL: It’s just one more sign that as Palin tries to quiet her critics, she is sparking another loud debate. For Today, Norah O’Donnell, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

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