Even when she’s being paid by her hosts, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin cannot seem to deliver a straight answer.
In her first appearance as a Fox News “analyst,” the failed vice presidential candidate sat down with right-wing pundit Bill O’Reilly to discuss recent allegations leveraged against her by numerous McCain campaign aides, as reported in the new book “Game Change.”
However, on the most pressing questions posed by O’Reilly, who was clearly throwing softballs, Palin’s responses were anything but answers.
In her debut as a contributor to Fox News, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin admitted Tuesday that leading up to her 2008 vice presidential debate she thought Iraq may have been behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Interviewed by Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on his show “The O’Reilly Factor,” Palin trashed many of the critical accounts of her candidacy in the new book “Game Change.” But one story from the book that Palin did not say was “made up” or “a lie” was the description of her uncertainty as to whether Iraq had a hand in the planning of the September 11 attacks.
“I did talk a lot to [campaign strategist] Steve Schmidt about the history of the war and where the attackers could have come from,” Palin said of her debate prep during the fall of 2008 – more than five years after the start of the war in Iraq and seven years after the terrorist attacks that hit New York and Washington.
“I do admit to asking questions about that,” she said.
One of the accusations, that Palin does not know why there is a North and South Korea, was completely mischaracterized by O’Reilly, who asked the former governor if she knew the “difference” between the two rival nations.
“Is this guy lying?” he asked. “He says you don’t know the difference between North and South Korea.”
“Yeah, that surprised me,” she replied, explaining that she had not watched the 60 Minutes interview of John Heilemann, co-author of “Game Change“.
“Yeah, that is a lie,” she said. “That is a lie.”
However, she did not volunteer an actual response to the specific accusation, nor did O’Reilly press her on why the Korean peninsula is divided.
Another accusation, that Palin was still suggesting during the 2008 campaign that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein were responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was the next hurdle for the Fox News “analyst” to clear.
“You know, on that, I did talk a lot to [McCain political strategist] Steve Scmidt about the history of the war and about where, perhaps, the 9/11 terrorists came from and could there have been any connection to Saddam,” she explained. “So, I admit I asked questions about it.”
“But you weren’t blaming 9/11 on Saddam Hussein?” O’Reilly asked.
“No,” Palin said. “Oh, no, no. Yeah.”
A third accusation, that Palin did not know what enemy her son was going to fight when he shipped off for Iraq, came next. When O’Reilly posed the question, Palin’s response failed to address even whether the claim was truthful.
“See, these reporters were not there,” she said. “I think these political establishment reporters who love to gin up controversy and spin up gossip — the rest of America doesn’t care about that kind of crap.”
Moments later she suggested that reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin “are the same guys who are saying, you know, that, uh, you know, some of the other tin foil hat controversy and conspiracy theory stuff.”
Assuaging Palin’s apparent discomfort at the torrent of accusations stemming from the recent 60 Minutes segment, O’Reilly claimed that she now has “a forum here at Fox News.” And with that forum, he continued, “you can immediately neutralize 60 Minutes, like that,” O’Reilly said with a snap of his fingers.
“And, the American people are immediately neutralizing outlets like 60 Minutes,” Palin chimed back. “More and more Americans are looking at some of these networks, that biased journalism, and they’re saying, ‘Naw, that gig’s up. We’re not believing that stuff anymore.’ And that’s why they’re tuning in to Fox News.”
Sarah Palin was awarded “Lie of the Year” for 2009 by the St. Petersburg Times Web site Politifact, for her invention of so-called “death panels” she claimed Democrats had written into health reform legislation. Fellow Fox News employee Glenn Beck was similarly named “Misinformer of the Year” by watchdog group Media Matters for doggedly repeating blatant and transparent mistruths.
Palin, 45, “will provide political commentary and analysis” for Fox News’s political and business news programs and will host “periodic episodes of FNC’s ‘Real American Stories,’ a series exploring inspirational real-life tales,” a company statement said.
The series is to debut later this year.
On Tuesday, the Wine & Spirits Wholesallers of America announced that Sarah Palin will be their 2010 conference keynote speaker in Las Vegas, where she will outline “her vision for America’s future.”
This video is from Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, broadcast Jan. 12, 2010.