When the LA Times objects to a CNN piece on a Republican for its unfairness, readers know that CNN stepped way over the line. James Rainey, the Times’ media critic, roasts Rick Sanchez and CNN for its substance-free linkage of Sarah Palin to the Alaskan Independence Party, a quasi-secessionist political party that lives just short of the fringe of politics in Alaska. They use a Salon writer as a supposedly independent reporter on this story, to which Rainey objects, and never produces any evidence that Palin supported AIP goals:

Rather than deliver a single revelation, the 24-hour cable news channel coughed up a reheated, overwrought and misleading story that seemed designed to yoke Sarah Palin and her husband to the most extreme secessionists in Alaska.

Yes, Todd Palin once belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party. And his wife, the governor and now Republican vice presidential nominee, has been friendly with some of its members.

But neither CNN nor the other news organizations that have reported on the connection, including The Times, have shown that Sarah Palin embraced the call by some in the party to sever their beloved state from “the Lower 48.” …

But Sanchez and the CNN crew instead ran their report off into the underbrush, reaching a low when the anchor tried to draw a parallel between the Alaska party and the forces behind the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

“Not comparing them to actions [sic] but comparing them in terms of ideology, not actions but ideology, are [members of the Alaskan Independence Party] similar to the group that blew up the [Alfred P.] Murrah building?” Sanchez asked, seemingly apologetic for that stinker, even as he unleashed it.

I like Sanchez. I appeared on his show once, and he treated me well and more or less agreed with me on the topic at hand, the question-planting scandal in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. However, Rainey correctly diagnoses the problem with this segment, starting with their choice of correspondent. Salon has run some of the more lunatic of the Palin criticisms, including Gary Kamiya’s notorious analysis that Palin’s primary quality was her “doability”. Salon also helpfully included a photoshop of Palin as a dominatrix sexually enticing … a moose.

If CNN believes this to be an objective source of news, then it explains why Fox News eats their lunch on a daily basis. In Niewert’s defense, even he had a little trouble swallowing the notion that Palin could be connected to the Oklahoma City bombing. Well, at least for a moment, anyway.

It’s a despicable segment, as you can judge for yourself in the clip below. Unlike Barack Obama and his pastor, or William Ayers, or Rashid Khalidi, Palin never belonged to the same organization as Vogel nor supported it with funding. And yet CNN finds the time to smear Palin with this charge while (mostly) ignoring Barack Obama’s work with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and Woods Fund. Amazing.