Thursday, July 2, 2009

CBS Hit Piece - Conroy and Walshe Join the Haters

Feeling left out, CBS News has joined the fray and published a shoddy hit piece on Governor Palin as well.

This lovely gem, authored by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, explores some so-called "exclusive" e-mails that follow a heated discussion between Governor Palin and the campaign's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt. If the names of the authors sound familiar to you, you shouldn't be surprised. The two of them are writing a book about Governor Palin. Some people had guessed that this upcoming book would be a fair piece, but, after reading this article, I'm not so sure. (As a side note, Shushannah Walshe started a Twitter account, just to plug the article she co-wrote.)

How did these exclusive e-mails come into the hands of Conroy and Walshe? It is anyone's guess, but later on in the article, we find that there was an exchange of e-mails between Governor Palin and Steve Schmidt that certain people were copied on. The first e-mail from the Governor was sent to Schmidt and copied to Todd Palin, Nicolle Wallace and Rick Davis. After a reply by Schmidt, the followup e-mail from the Governor added "her senior political adviser Tucker Eskew, senior aide Jason Recher, the lone traveling aide from her Alaska office Kris Perry, press secretary Tracey Schmitt and personal assistant Bexie Nobles." I'll let the readers of C4P speculate on who leaked the e-mails, but -- more importantly -- it begs the question of why there are internal communication of a national political campaign being leaked at all.

The story has been rehashed many times but focuses on the meme of Governor Palin and her husband's perceived association with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP). While one of the main planks of the AIP is to call for a vote of the citizens of Alaska on whether it should remain a state, become a commonwealth, or form its own country, it has been my experience that the party is largely one of pro-Alaska individuals who find the utmost importance in state rights and decry the federal government's involvement with the restrictions of public land use in Alaska. As much as been made of AIP as a secessionist party, there are probably many within the party that understand that secession isn't going to happen. As has been mentioned in the past on C4P, even Wally Hickel ran and won on the AIP ticket for governor in 1990 after a moderate republican by the name of Arliss Sturgulewski had won the Republican primary. (As a tangential note, episode 19 of the A&E show City Confidential covered Fairbanks, Alaska and the mysterious disappearance and murder of the founder of the AIP, Joe Vogler)

The story of Governor Palin having given a recorded welcome to their 2008 AIP convention and Todd Palin being registered a a member of the AIP, first got major recognition in an article in Like many stories now days, after appearing on a internet site the story got picked up by the mainstream media, CNN in this case. From there the Governor started seeing evidence on the campaign trail that people and reporters were talking about it.

Ginning up the article, Conroy and Walshe add this commentary to their story:

The comment set her off. She worried that the campaign was not sufficiently mitigating the issue of her alleged connection to the party, which despite a platform that harkens more to the Civil War than the 21st century, continued to play a serious role in Alaska politics.

Are they suggesting that the belief in states rights is an antiquated idea that died almost 150 years ago? Hundreds of thousands of people that attended the Tea Party rallies might beg to differ. Oh no, let's use the words "Civil War". That will certainly bring up a whole host of bad connotations.

Conroy and Walshe then write that the governor was prone to overreacting.

Her reference to a single protestor's sign and "many shout-outs" was indicative of Palin's occasional tendency to take anecdotal evidence of a minor problem and extrapolate it into something far more menacing.

Concerned that AIP story was getting legs, she sent an e-mail to Steve Schmidt.

"Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue that's cropped up all day today - two reporters, a protestor's sign, and many shout-outs all claiming Todd's involvement in an anti-American political party," Palin wrote. "It's bull, and I don't want to have to keep reacting to it ... Pls have statement given on this so it's put to bed."

Steve Schmidt blew the Governor's concern off, responding:

"Ignore it," he wrote. "He was a member of the aip? My understanding is yes. That is part of their platform. Do not engage the protestors. If a reporter asks say it is ridiculous. Todd loves america."

Governor Palin and Steve Schmidt continued their exchange:

"That's not part of their platform and he was only a 'member' bc independent alaskans too often check that 'Alaska Independent' box on voter registrations thinking it just means non partisan," Palin wrote. "He caught his error when changing our address and checked the right box. I still want it fixed."

"Secession," [Steve Schmidt] wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country

We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this."

Ah, so the Governor is lying and she evidently doesn't know anything about campaigns. That's funny coming from someone who doesn't have all that great of a resume according to Wikipedia:
  • 1995 - Schmidt managed Will T. Scott's unsuccessful campaign for attorney general of Kentucky.
  • 1998 - Schmidt managed Tim Leslie's unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of California.
  • 1998 - Schmidt was the communications director for the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Matt Fong.
  • 1999 - Schmidt was the communications director for Lamar Alexander's unsuccessful presidential run.
  • 2004 - Schmidt was a member of the senior strategic planning group that ran President George W. Bush's successful re-election campaign
  • 2006 - Schmidt managed the successful re-election campaign for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • 2008 - Schmidt headed up the day to day operations for Senator John McCain's unsuccessful bid for U.S. President.
I might also note that the AIP is still a talking point against the governor today. So, job well done, Steve.

Update by JR: I would like to point out this line by Governor Palin:

"Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue...

It seemed to me, as an observer of the campaign, that Steve Schmidt and some on his team never tried to get in front of any "ridiculous issue." This all goes back to the campaign strategy that Governor Palin should not conduct interviews after she was selected as running-mate. She was not allowed to do interviews, therefore the dems and their allies in the media were allowed to run up to Alaska and find any and all information (lies) that they then used to smear the governor. The information was put out there, and Palin was never allowed to defend herself. When she was finally allowed to conduct interviews, the networks had all the power to edit and chop up Governor Palin's answers and facial expressions in order to put her in the worst possible light. As any Palin supporter knows, these ridiculous issues are STILL used against Palin in the media.

Here is a blast from the past in which Michelle Malkin reveals the internet campaign waged against Palin -- concerning the AIP -- by democrat operatives on the internet:

First, read this. Read the whole thing. Rusty Shackleford — with help from Jane of Armies of Liberation, Stable Hand, the Jawa team, Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades, and Patterico – traced a Palin-bashing YouTube video to a Democrat public relations firm, Winner and Associates, and one of its employees, Ethan S. Winner. They believe the voiceover for the ad — which spreads the lie that Sarah Palin belonged to a fringe third party, the Alaska Independence Party — was done by a professional whose voice they believe was also featured in several Obama ads and other spots produced by Obama top strategist and astroturfer extraordinaire David Axelrod’s firm.

Update II by JR: Check out this great journalism:

Palin was attempting to bend the facts ever so slightly to fit neatly into her version of events.

I can't wait for the book! Not.

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