Larry O’Donnell isn’t alone among those accusing Newsweek of selling out for its profile of Sarah Palin, but let’s start with the MSNBC host first. On The Last Word yesterday, O’Donnell railed at Newsweek for its supposed puffery of Palin, taking over six minutes of the broadcast to accuse reporter Peter Boyer of writing “a love letter” to the former governor of Alaska, whom he calls “the most unpopular politician in America”:
As to why Newsweek decided to give Palin the softest treatment the lamestream media ever has, the answer actually lies at the end of the article, where Newsweek inadvertently confesses to the deal it obviously made to Palin for the cover, the flattering photography, and the puff piece.
“’The mainstream press is becoming less and less relevant,’ she said. Adding that she would have no hesitation in shunning media outlets she does not trust. ‘I would say no to those who have lied about me. There is no need to reward bad behavior. I`ve learned, you know, once bitten, twice shy. I have learned.’”
There’s Newsweek telling you that she would have no hesitation in shunning media outlets she does not trust. That means Newsweek had to make promises to her to get her trust. I have specifically avoided mention of the author of the Newsweek piece because he has done good work in the past and he surely will again and should not be known for this love letter to Sarah Palin.
All of this amuses Tim Graham at Newsbusters, who recalls that Newsweek hasn’t exactly treated Palin with kid gloves in the past. He also wonders where O’Donnell is on the sellout watch at MSNBC. “O’Donnell never has a problem when Newsweek is offering its long, adoring profiles to Barack or Michelle Obama. But Palin-boosting is corrupt, since it promotes the corrupt conservatives.” As to the notion that the cover is somehow a lie because it quotes Palin accurately as predicting she can win an election against Obama, Graham wonders whether O’Donnell has lost his mind:
It’s awfully tiring to hear O’Donnell claim it’s a “lie” to predict a crystal-ball proposition. Is it a “lie” that O’Donnell promises that MSNBC’s job is to “lean forward”?
Having the quote appear as such, with quotation marks, as well as it being in the first person, makes a pretty good case that the argument came from Palin and isn’t an argument that Newsweek is making. As it happens, I do agree with O’Donnell on the comparison to Michael Dukakis; it’s a pretty lame stretch. Dukakis returned to the governor’s office because his term was unexpired. The last sitting governor to lose a presidential general election before Dukakis was Alf Landon, who ran for President in 1936 instead of re-election, and who returned to his office for about two months after the election. The same was true of Al Smith in 1928. That doesn’t make Boyer a sellout, though, just a weak writer and researcher.
O’Donnell as some company, though, as John Ziegler thinks Boyer sold out, too:
After my essay “The Sarah Palin I Know” ran in the Daily Caller, Boyer emailed me and asked me to call him. He wanted to discuss the story of my two years on the fringe of Palin’s world, having produced the only film for which she ever did an interview and been an informal advisor to her for a period of time.
Over several days we talked for well over three hours. He never told me exactly what story he was working on, but he strongly led me to believe that the article would focus on my experiences and crusade to tell the truth about Palin (both good and bad). You wouldn’t know it from the story he ended up writing, but he seemed to totally understand how absurd it is to think she could be elected president in 2012. Numerous sections of it appeared written by a completely different person than the one I spoke to all that time.
As is almost always the case with reporters, I figured he would eventually either wimp out or screw me, so my expectations for what he would do with our discussions were low (if you wonder why I would bother to even talk with someone I expected to do me wrong, you are obviously smarter than I am). So when he went silent for awhile I figured the story was dead. When he emailed me saturday morning and laughably claimed that my narrative, though interesting, required more space than he had, I chuckled to myself and emailed him back that he was full of crap (I wish people just had the balls to tell you the the truth when they are doing you wrong).
For me, I don’t think Boyer sold out as much as he and Newsweek gave their cover subject a chance to present her case. Given MSNBC’s huge tilt to the Left — to the point where Joe Scarborough has to defend his show’s treatment of Obama by noting that Democrats have a 10:1 advantage on Morning Joe — O’Donnell’s hysterical reaction is, well, hysterical.