Laura Ingraham took on Mike Allen Monday for his most recent Sarah Palin hit piece published at Politico Sunday.
Somewhat surprisingly, Allen actually defended himself claiming, "This is helpful to Sarah Palin" (YouTube audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST: She also accused you of yellow journalism, and I mean, the using, and I think her, her point is that most of the piece is not attributed, right? I mean, you have some couple of quotes from Michael Steele, and that’s interesting. But I think, I think the issue is that there are all these whispers going on behind the scenes on the, on the eve of the midterm election. And I guess nobody has the courage to actually be quoted, which I find interesting. So she, I think that that was her point here. If you’re going to run a piece about stopping Palin, you better have a little, a little more in the way of on the record commentary and quotes than just Michael Steele.
Here was Allen’s pathetic response:
MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO: Well, Laura, another way to look at it is it’s kind of elitist to say that only people in Washington should be participating in these conversations. There’s these conversations are going on that Politico should hide them? That we should not report them? That we should only allow people who run around here, or have drinks here, or have dinners here, know what’s going on? This way, Sarah Palin’s supporters, her opponents, her can be a part of the conversation, can know exactly what’s being said…
INGRAHAM: But there is no conversation because nobody’s quoted.
ALLEN: We reached out to Sarah Palin over several days. They decided they didn’t want to be quoted because they didn’t want to have this conversation before the election. They said they would have this conversation after…This is what’s changing about the media, Laura, is it used to be that…
INGRAHAM: Yeah, you had sources, and quotes on the record.
Indeed. But Ingraham was just getting warmed up:
INGRAHAM: I think again the point is you feel entirely comfortable at Politico…You are perfectly comfortable writing a piece about what is I guess sort of gossip and, and whisper campaign that is designed to take down this woman without a single quote attributing to this…
ALLEN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait, wait, wait.
INGRAHAM: …without a single person on the record other than Michael Steele who, and his comments are fairly interesting.
ALLEN: The story points out the opposite of what you’re saying. This is helpful to Sarah Palin. She’s not trying to be the candidate or the champion or the supporter of establishment Washington. If you listen to her campaign appearances, she goes against the establishment. That’s her appeal. Her appeal is that she’s not part of the Washington set. And so to say that, to say that these comments are harmful to her or designed to take her down or negative toward her, that’s a total misreading of this piece.
Ingraham then read some of the opening of the Politico piece for Allen: “Top Republicans in Washington and in the national GOP establishment say the 2010 campaign highlighted an urgent task that they will begin in earnest as soon as the elections are over: Stop Sarah Palin.”
Ingraham asked, “That’s good for Sarah Palin?...That’s a big statement, they’re trying to stop Sarah Palin, and no one will be brave enough to have a quote attributed to them?”
After discussing some of the politics involved in a successful Palin campaign, Ingraham moved back to the poor journalism on display:
INGRAHAM: I like a lot of what you guys do. I think some terrific reporting. This surprised me. This, this, this, this surprised me, because it didn’t, it didn’t seem to measure up to other things that you guys do. And to me, that was a little disappointing.
Listen to Allen’s absurd response:
ALLEN: Okay, so, the next time that there’s widespread conversation in D.C. about a national figure, you think that we should not write about it. That we should not report it because it’s going to hurt their feelings or because someone might misread it.
Imagine a journalist making such a comment. Ingraham recognizing the absurdity let Allen have it:
INGRAHAM: No, because it’s not what a journalist is supposed to do. A journalist is actually supposed to get a few people on the record and not just print what people are afraid to say because that, that, that doesn’t have, there’s no accountability. You can’t go to Ed Gillespie and say, “Ed, you said this. I want to follow-up with what you said.” It’s all just creating a big, you know, rumor mill and, and without attribution. You know this, Mike. You’re having a conversation, I don’t remember seeing these types of articles about seminal liberal figures. That’s what I don’t remember seeing. And maybe you can show me what you’ve done, and maybe I’ve missed something, but to me I don’t see the same type of piece about a liberal when there’s a commonly-held view that no one wants to actually be quoted about that’s bubbling up around Washington. That’s all I’m saying. And look, you know, you have an incredibly successful website, and some great reporters there. This just surprised me, that’s all.
ALLEN: And the reason that it’s successful is that we tell people what’s going on, that we’re not afraid to write about things that in past years would have been available only to elite Washington insiders. That this is something that we pulled back the curtain, told people what was happening, invited Gov. Palin to be part of the conversation. Now her supporters, her opponents are free to be part of the conversation. That’s what journalism should be.
No, that's not what journalism should be, for it allows all kinds of opinions to be represented as having been stated by folks either close to a political figure or opposed to him or her without any accountability whatsoever.
As such, that's not journalism, it's gossip, and that Allen, Jim VandeHei, and the Politico editors don't see the difference is tremendously concerning.
Clearly, Ingraham agreed:
INGRAHAM: No. Let me just say that if you’re going to run a piece about me, and for the most part the criticisms of me are un-attributed, now that’s going to be a short conversation. Okay, and I think you as a smart person if someone called and said, “Mike, we have a piece we’re running about you. They’re saying this, this, and this, and this. You want any comment?” That’s a drive-by. That’s not what I’ve come to expect from you guys.
Well, I'm not sure what Ingraham expects from Politico, but un-sourced hit pieces have become steadily more and more commonplace at major news outlets in recent years, and it only seems to be getting worse.
There used to be a time when an editor wouldn't allow an article that was accusing someone of something to be published unless someone was willing to go on the record.
Sadly, those days appear to be part of a bygone era, for now anything goes.
Makes you wonder where it will all end.