Tuesday, Sarah Palin made her Fox News debut, where she, as Simon Maloy has pointed out, basically got paid by Fox News to give an infomercial about herself. The Fox News community has expressed nothing but glee over Palin's appearance, with Fox Nation going so far as to declare that Palin was "on Fire in Fox News Debut." Fox & Friends spent a good chunk of their show yesterday discussing Palin's appearance and her "common sense conservatism," but there was one part of Palin's interview that really struck a chord with them -- when she declared that the negative stories about her in the recently released book on the 2008 elections, Game Change, were "a bunch of B.S."
During the interview, Bill O'Reilly gave Palin the opportunity to respond to several anecdotes in the book, including that she didn't "know the difference between North and South Korea"; that she "thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11"; and that she "didn't know why" her son was being deployed to Iraq. Palin dismissed most of these claims as "crap"; "lie[s]," and "B.S." (except for Saddam's ties to 9/11--she had "questions" about that). Palin said "these reporters were not there, adding, "I don't think I've -- that I've ever met these guys. They didn't interview me for the book."
Palin's declaration seemed to blow the Fox & Friends crew's minds, and they immediately took up Palin's cause. Gretchen Carlson said of Palin's self-defense: "It's a really interesting point, actually, that the reporters were not there. So they're depending on people allegedly who were there to give them the story. How do they know they're telling the truth?"
Apparently it had not previously occurred to Carlson that the book's sources could be less than reliable. Prior to Palin's remarks, Fox & Friends had spent a considerable amount of time breathlessly reporting on numerous thinly sourced rumors that appear in Game Change with nary a hint of skepticism ...so long as the rumors related to Democratic politicians, of course.
For instance, on Monday, Steve Doocy reported that the book's authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilmann, "have gotten all of the juicy stuff from behind the scenes during the run for the presidency" and described as a "fact" that "candidate Obama's own political team, some staff members would refer to the candidate as the black Jesus." Brian Kilmeade went on to report that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign staff "lost confidence" in her after her "bizarre reaction to her loss in Iowa," adding that Clinton thought that Obama's past drug use "should have been in play. And Bill Clinton, her own staff did a background check to find out about rumors about him having relationships with other women and they found one, a long-term one in 2006 and they set up in there their own war room on just Bill Clinton." Can't you hear the skepticism in their reporting?
Or how about yesterday, when, in its first news segment of the show, Kilmeade declared: "No one is looking at this book and saying, 'You lie.' You're looking at this book and saying 'I can't believe everybody knows this story.'" For her part, Carlson said of the book's reporting on the Clinton campaign: "[S]ome are saying...because one of the leading sources in this book was somebody directly on the inside of Hillary's campaign, so there really is no disputing the facts. Although that hasn't really stopped anyone before from disputing the facts." Yesterday Fox & Friends reported with hardly a whiff of disbelief that former President Bill Clinton accused Sen. Ted Kennedy of only "endorsing" Obama "because he's black"; that Bill Clinton said "a few years ago" Obama "would have been getting us coffee"; that when Obama was Senator he was of the opinion that Biden was "absolutely the most condescending U.S. Senator towards him"; that Bill Clinton was alleged to have been engaged in an extramarital affair; that Hillary Clinton wanted to push stories that Obama was a drug dealer; and that in the book, the Edwards family was "laid bare," by "eye-open[ing]" revelations.
I'd be inclined to give the Fox & Friends team the benefit of the doubt that they never thought to question the validity of the claims made in Game Change before their idol Palin complained about it, if they had immediately stopped treating the book's stories as fact. Sadly, that was not the case. After Carlson questioned "how" one could know if Heilmann and Halperin's sources were true because the "reporters were not there," Fox & Friends later reported on the book's description of Elizabeth Edwards as "a crazy woman" without a question as to the accuracy of the book's anecdotes. The on-screen text during that segment was, "A Marriage in Turmoil? Book Paints Negative Picture of Edwards." Clearly, they must believe that as long as the story isn't a negative one about Palin, then it must be true.
Take a look at Fox & Friends selective skepticism of Game Change's reporting: