Sarah Palin, Scientology, and Fox News

From Geoffrey Dunn’s blog in the USA:

Palin Pallin’ Around with Scientologists: Todd & Sarah & John & Greta

There is something absolutely bizarre and troubling going on in the political netherworld of Sarah and Todd Palin, Greta Van Susteren and her wannabe-queen-maker hubby, John Coale.

At best, it’s a clear case of journalistic conflict-of-interest on behalf of Van Susteren; at worst, it’s a sleazy, national power play by a couple of practitioners of Scientology–the controversial cult that Time magazine described as “a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”

Let’s start with the easy stuff: Van Susteren is a flat-out hypocrite and a con artist. Quote me. Ever since Palin was first selected as John McCain’s running mate last August, Van Susteren–she of the rather severe face lift and right-wing tilt–has been utterly infatuated with the Palins (especially with Todd) and has enjoyed unequaled access to the Last Frontier’s first couple and their family.

There’s been the interviews in the kitchen with Sarah, the fawning (if not embarrassing) tête-à-tête with the “First Dude” overlooking Lake Lucille, the softball conversation with Sarah after the GOP’s defeat in November, and, most recently, the controversial interview with 18-year-old Bristol Palin and her infant son, Tripp.

While there’s something ironic about Alaska’s most famous evangelical Christians pallin’ around with a couple who believes that 75 million years ago an entity named Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling DC-8 airliners, it’s all been good for Van Susteren‘s ratings. It’s also expanded her television profile from the narrow confines of legal journalism to broader national political commentary. She’s ridden Palin’s conservative steed into an entirely new level of public exposure.

Van Susteren first used her Fox blog to protect Palin after CNN–with whom Van Susteren had a less-than-friendly break-up in 2002–named her to its year-end list of “politicians who fell from grace in 2008.” That particular all-star team included Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards and Rod Blagojevich. Van Susteren protested, and CNN quietly (and gutlessly) removed Palin from the list.

“Why didn’t CNN PUBLICLY apologize for this one?” Van Susteren blogged. “They sure unfairly trashed her publicly on that list.”

Unfairly? Palin’s vicious and duplicitous attacks against Obama on the campaign trail alone reserved her a spot on that roster, not to mention all the lies and half-truths she spewed along the way, nor her moose-in-the-headlights moments with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric.

Two days ago, Van Susteren ripped into comedian David Letterman for his riff on Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston and the governor:

Letterman: You remember that Sarah, one of the deals was one of her children, daughters, a very young girl, was pregnant and was going to get married to the young man that knocked her up. And her name was Bristol, and the kid’s name was Levi Johnston. You remember these kids? Well, they have broken up. Yes. So if you were going to send them a gift…[Laughter]

Okay. Let me say from the outset that I also found the jabs at Bristol and Levi insensitive–but then a lot of the humor on late-night talk shows tends toward the insensitive (that’s why we laugh). It wasn’t out of line by typical late-night standards.

But Van Susteren threw a hissy fit about it. She brought on as a guest, Jane Swift, the former governor of Massachusetts, to tag-team Letterman and excoriate him for his joke:

Van Susteren: He took it 15 steps further and picks on the kid. We left the Bush children alone. We left Chelsea Clinton alone. That was always something that people were respectful towards the children, recognizing it was different….Do you really have to go that far to make a buck, to make a laugh?

First of all, it’s an outright lie that the Bush and Clinton kids were left alone. They took plenty of heat. It goes with the terrain.

But more importantly, the reason that Bristol Palin has now been elevated to late-night talk show fodder is precisely because Van Susteren brought the 18-year-old Bristol on her show and conducted an in-depth interview with her, one that led to chastisement from across the political spectrum, including the conservative right.

It was Van Susteren who made Bristol Palin a public figure, who pulled her out of her privacy with her child, and who played the ratings game with Bristol’s private life. Not once did Van Susteren acknowledge that fact, reflect on it, nor express any regret for doing so. Not once. So much for insight and compassion. Bristol Palin has Van Susteren to thank for her being the butt of late-night jokes. Because Van Susteren went that far to make a buck.

Moreover, this was the second time in recent weeks that Van Susteren had used her bully pulpit to come to Palin’s defense in respect to issues surrounding Bristol. She did it again with hack-man Bill O’Reilly against “the far left” who was “making fun of Bristol.”

Van Susteren: But I mean, they live with themselves. They live with themselves. I’m just — I am appalled because this is an 18-year-old kid.

Neither Van Susteren nor O’Reilly had the integrity to note that the far right was going after Bristol, too. So they skewed the news to do a hatchet job on the left. What else is new?

Even more troubling, however, was this exchange between O’Reilly and Van Susteren:

O’Reilly: Joining us from Washington, FOX News anchor Greta Van Susteren, host of “On the Record,” who knows the Palin family well.

Van Susteren: Well, you know, you say that I, just as an aside, that I know them very well. The only way that I’ve met them is by interviewing them. So, you know, I don’t socialize or spend a lot of time with them. But I do have a little bit of a sense having interviewed them multiple times.

What she didn’t acknowledge then or any time before–and only acknowledged after being busted by the Washington Post–was that her husband, Coale, has been “helping” Palin’s presidential campaign. He’s not helping her run the State of Alaska–which is her current job and for which she is being paid $125,000 annually, plus, of course, per diem–he’s helping her with her exploratory campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination for President.

Coale apparently has some sort of fixation on powerful women, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. It’s more about their position than it is about their ideology. (I’ll leave it to Letterman to compose a crack about that.) But when Van Susteren failed to disclose her husband’s relationship to Palin, whether he was paid or not, and claimed only a professional relationship with the Palins, she was engaging in out-and-out duplicity and covering up a blatant professional conflict of interest.

There are rumors that Coale, a powerful attorney in Washington, D.C., guided the formation of SarahPAC and that he even helped raise money–or put up some himself–to form Palin’s political action committee (one that looks a whole lot like Hillary’s) in Arlington, Virginia.

How weird is it? The Baltimore Sun reported that Coale admits to being “enamored” with Palin and that he refers to her as “his girlfriend.” The Washington Times quoted Coale as saying in January, just before the Obama Inauguration, that “I am getting as far from D.C. as I can. I may go to Alaska and see Sarah.”

Update, see here.

In Alaska’s legendary Bristol Bay watershed, an enormous open-pit mine would damage vital wildlife habitat, including the world’s greatest spawning grounds for wild salmon: here.

McCain disses Palin on Leno: here.

US Christian Fundamentalist Group Preaches Patriarchy and Women’s Fertility as Weapons for Spiritual Warfare, here.

40 thoughts on “Sarah Palin, Scientology, and Fox News

  1. Hi CJ, I hope that you are right about Sarah Palin and that no one cares about her anymore. Still, there are people, including people in the Scientology cult, who want to make her Republican Presidential candidate in 2012.


  2. Apr 3, 5:51 AM EDT

    Alaska Gov. Palin dismisses political road bumps

    Associated Press Writer

    Palin’s agreement to reimburse state for family travel

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — It would seem like a bad week for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but she said she’s looking past snubs from a major Republican fundraising event and her former running mate to focus on Alaska.

    Nationally, Sen. John McCain said he wouldn’t commit to supporting her for president if she ran in 2012. Then she was replaced as the keynote speaker at June’s Senate-House Dinner in Washington, though she said she never accepted the invitation.

    In her home state, she’s drawn fire from Republican legislators on the state’s use of federal stimulus funds, from Democrats on her state Senate nominee and from Alaska Natives for her choice for attorney general.

    Such setbacks could make any politician reel, but Palin breezily insisted it’s been a great week.

    “I would never accomplish anything and our administration would be ineffective if all I did was try to please those who look for anything to be negative about,” she said Thursday.

    Sitting in the hallway outside her Juneau office in clogs and a puffy down vest, Palin chatted with lawmakers, looking more like the small town mayor she once was than the self-proclaimed “pit bull” in the glamorous garb who electrified rallies last fall as McCain’s presidential running mate.

    But ever since the McCain-Palin ticket failed to take the White House in November, Palin’s name has been among the top tier of plausible presidential candidates for 2012. She’s done little to discourage such talk, even forming a political action committee last January.

    It’s colored how many onlookers view her actions since she returned to Alaska, and Democratic and Republican colleagues alike are concerned she’s trying to balance the state’s needs with her national ambitions, to the detriment of the state.

    Palin said she has one thing on her mind: “My ambitions are to be the best governor that I can be. That’s what I wake up thinking about, that’s what I go to sleep thinking about and that’s what our efforts are all day long.”

    Many Alaskans were shocked when Palin announced last month that she was rejecting half of the state’s stimulus funds, though it turned out to be closer to a third.

    The news was confusing enough in a state that is unusually dependent on federal dollars and where many residents still revere former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens for his legendary ability to bring home the pork.

    Her staff hastened to assure Alaskans that Palin was simply opening up a public debate on the money she had denounced as a “bribe” that would bind the state with federal strings.

    Legislative leaders have said they’ve found very few strings attached. Palin said it appears a majority of lawmakers want to spend the federal money.

    “Legislators hold the purse strings,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press without acknowledging that she holds the veto power.

    “We’re working together, though, to find a mutual comfort level that includes asking the public to acknowledge this is an unsustainable, debt-ridden package of funds,” she wrote.

    Senate Democrats on Wednesday turned down Palin’s pick to fill a vacant Senate seat, and on Thursday the state’s largest native organization released a scathing critique of her choice of Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general.

    Ross, a National Rifle Association director, has been an outspoken opponent of the federal law giving rural Alaskans a preference in subsistence hunting and fishing in the state, arguing it’s unconstitutional.

    The Alaska Federation of Natives criticized his views on subsistence, tribal sovereignty and his ratings in past surveys by Alaska attorneys.

    Palin dismissed their concerns, saying her husband and children are part Native.

    “I’m not anti-Native and Wayne Anthony Ross is not anti-Native. I would never hire anybody who is,” Palin said.

    Political experts agree that if Palin does want to succeed nationally, she’s got to do a good job at home. But Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker said it’s been a rocky road so far.

    “I think she’s still ill at ease as a national figure,” Baker said. “She just hasn’t been very good at juggling her state responsibilities versus her new national image.”

    Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney said all the nation’s governors are under stress given the current economic downturn.

    But Palin needs to “drive home her competence” if she wants to move forward, and the recent bumps in the road haven’t helped that effort, he said.

    Though Palin has not said if she will seek re-election next year as governor or run for higher office, few doubt her desire to remain a political player.

    “She has plenty of opportunity to move ahead but she definitely has work to do,” Pitney said. “Because if she loses re-election or has an unexpectedly difficult re-election, that could damage any prospects for other jobs down the line.”

    © 2009 The Associated Press.


  3. Well, if she ends up being the candidate (which I seriously doubt – BTW I am a Republican) it will be up to voters -just like this election was and will continue to be. Not sure if you attached the article below it but I see no story there. Every governor of every state could probably have the same thing written about them with just different names and different situations (it’s politics). The only reason it is being wrote about regarding her is because she was McCain’s VP pick otherwise no one would care. And to assume she is making decisions based on future political aspirations, # 1- you can’t read someone’s mind, # 2 – which politician doesn’t do that?


  4. Hi CJ, I hope that your doubts that Sarah Palin will be Republican Presidential candidate in 2012 will become reality; unless, of course, it would be an even worse candidate like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. The fact is that the Republican party now does not have a leader. McCain will not be the candidate in 2012. According to many analysts, the closest thing the Republicans have to a leader are Palin or Limbaugh or Coulter, or (the Australian) Rupert Murdoch.


  5. Please clarify -you are hoping my doubts become reality or you are hoping a 2012 Palin candidacy will become reality? Obviously, McCain will not be the candidate in 2012 – duh. Why would he? Obviously, it would not be Rush or Coulter either. In the first place, why would they? They are entertainers, not politicians. In the second place, any sane Republican would not want them to be the candidate. Would you please name the many analysts? And, no comments to my second post?


  6. Hi CJ, very obviously I do not want Sarah Palin to become candidate. A creationist with links to Scientologists who would risk nuclear war with Russia would be a great danger to science and human lives in the USA. About Limbaugh and Coulter: “any sane Republican would not want them to be the candidate.” However, there are also not so sane Republicans.

    On Limbaugh and Republican party leadership: see Google here.


  7. Palin sister-in-law accused of breaking into home

    Associated Press Writer

    Palin’s agreement to reimburse state for family travel

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Police say Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s sister-in-law is accused of breaking into the same home twice to steal money.

    Deputy Wasilla Police Chief Greg Wood says 35-year-old Diana Palin was arrested Thursday after she was confronted by the homeowner in the governor’s hometown of Wasilla. She faces two counts of felony burglary and misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and theft.

    Wood says tire tracks and shoe prints tied Palin to another break-in Tuesday in which $400 was taken. Police have not tied Palin to another burglary at the home last week.

    Governor spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton says Palin is the half sister of the governor’s husband and the family has no comment.

    Diana Palin’s husband says his wife has a court-appointed attorney.


  8. Who cares about her sister-in-law breaking into someone’s house? That is not a reflection of Sarah Palin. Come on…how stupid. I’m glad everyone doesn’t know how many stupid things my drug addict brother has done. Who doesn’t have a nut job somewhere in their family?

    Yes, there are insane Republicans just like there are insane Democrats. You do know that, right?

    Let her run for whatever she wants to run for – this is America – then let the voters decide. She made us the laughing stock of the world? Nothing insane or over the top about that comment – there is some deep thinking there. The only reason she is even on the radar any longer is because of the people who hate her so much. Very odd…I can’t imagine investing so much energy into hating the way people do. You would have thought that maybe she killed that eight year old girl in Tracy, CA this week. Wanna hate someone? Hate someone who has done something to hate instead of someone who has different ideas that you. How weak is that.


  9. One other comment about Limbaugh…that story is the creation of the democrats (the Obama administration in particular) – they want the public to think he is the leader. The Republicans don’t recognize him as the leader of the party. He is just an entertainer.


  10. Re #11: it would be right that noone would talk about Palin’s family IF PALIN HERSELF WOULD HAVE SAID: “I, as an individual, am a candidate. My family has absolutely nothing to do with the candidacy. They will not be at the party convention etc.” The problem is, she did not. She used Republican campaign money for expensive clothes for her family. She used Alaska state money for family travel. And, she used her family members for political photo ops, at the convention and elsewhere. She forced her pregnant daughter’s boyfriend to attend the Republican convention; which he did not want, he wanted to go hunting then. Ms Palin wanted to project an image of a “perfect” fundamentalist Christian family, with no sex before marriage … err… at least marriage after pregnancy …. err … err … She dragged her family into politics. So, blame Palin, not Associated Press or other reporters.


  11. And which politian doesn’t do all of those things? Which politian running in a presidential campaign left their family at home? Which politian doesn’t have their clothes, travel, etc. paid by their PACs. Come on…you really think she was first? THEY ALL DO! Do you think Hillary and Nancy shop at discount stores? Come on, think critically. So what, if the boyfriend came or not? What her daughter’s boyfriend does is not relavant, not at all. He is a goofy kid who got his girlfriend pregeant. If she wanted to project this “perfect” image why did she have the boyfriend come? If she wanted to project that image why didn’t she make them both stay in Alaska? Or if she really cared so much about her image why didn’t she have her daughter kill the baby? Your argument that she wanted to project a certain image and did stuff completely opposite of that image does not make any sense. Which politian doesn’t try to project some sort of image? That is what politics was, is and will continue to be. I am not blaming AP or other reports. If anyone is to blame it is the consumer of this stupid side bar garbage. It has zero to do with issues but they like to distract us with it and we go along with it. It is so much easier to discuss this stupde stuff than the stuff that actually counts (like the economy, like terrorism, like healthcare, like energy, etc.).
    Republicians can defend him but that does not make him the leader. That was a creation of the left and once again another non-issue.


  12. Re #15: the point is that the Republicans do not have an official leader right now. That, of course, makes Republicans, Democrats, and independents look if maybe people are “unofficial” leaders of the Republicans, and they look at Limbaugh, Palin, Ann Coulter, Rupert Murdoch, etc.


  13. My reply – so what! Who cares? None of these people are going to be contenders in 2012 so really they are not relavant when discussing the “leader” of the Republician party. There really isn’t a leader right now, just like there wasn’t really one when the Democrats lost in 2000. It is the natural progression of things. The loser has to retreat, reevaluate and at some point a new leader will emerge. This is actually the norm and there are serious Republicians who are “in the running” to be the next “leader”. To find them you have to be seriously looking (not reading Drudge or People magazine). To name a couple…Newt and Mitt.


  14. Re #15: if a politician, any politician, brings his/her family into the campaign; then, that politician should not be surprised if, eg, a sister in law is suspected of burglary, that issue turns up in media despatches and blogs.

    Sarah Palin wanted to project an image of a fundamentalist Christian family. As part of that, she forced her daughter’s boyfriend to come to the convention and said the two would marry soon. That proved to be untrue. Part of the reason for the breakup may be that Levi Johnston resented being used as a party political prop. Of course, if Sarah Palin would have forced her daughter to have an abortion (“kill her baby” might only be true if one believes in the sectarian religious axiom that individual life supposedly starts at pregnancy) that would have been an almighty row with her fundamentalist religious supporters. And the Republican presidential ticket would have had even less votes than they did now.

    By the way, the issue of the Scientology cult and it trying to get politicial influence, is wider than just Palin (look at Ros-Lehtinen etc. in Florida).


  15. A consistent politician won’t be found in the Republician or Democrat parties – period. Both those parties are flip floppers – not really big news there. They will say one thing and do another all day long. Not true?

    Of course, stuff like her sister-in-law will end up the news because our news media is so pathetic. My point is – who cares? I am not going to vote for someone becuase of what their sister-in-law did or if there their teenager got pregeant and got married or didn’t get married. – IT HAS ZERO TO DO WITH ISSUES THAT MATTER! Yeah, I’m sure them breaking up had to do with Sarah having him attend the convention. If that is all it took to break them up then he made the right decision about not getting married because obviously he is not ready for any real problems in life. And why do you make comments about him like you know him? Like he confided in you about wanting to go hunting and being unhappy with attending the convention. That is weird. And again who cares why they broke up? STUPID, STUPID STUFF that keeps Americans roaming around like dumb sheep. But these stories are presented as something that matters. Of course, she included her family in the campaign. Name one (just one) presidential candidate that left their family at home during the convention or the campaign. My point is, she campaigned just like all the rest did – the rules were just applied differently to her.


  16. Hi CJ, quite some candidates of third parties (like in the 2008 campaign, the Green Party, Socialist Equality Party and quite some others) leave their families out of their campaigns.

    If really both Democrats and Republicans are flip-floppers, then maybe you should consider joining a third party, or founding one of your own. I don’t agree that all, eg, Republicans are equally flip-floppers. Ron Paul has some really wrong views but sticks consistently to them. Huckabee is a fundamentalist religious wingnut, but much less of a flip-flopper than Romney, who sometimes plays at being a fundamentalist religious wingnut, and sometimes at being a moderate.


  17. Name me a candidate that has actually been a contender – that has actually had a convention and a campaign that the media covered for more than 30 seconds. You can’t name one in the Rep or Dem party. My point being, she was doing the same campaigning as the other party, just different rules were being applied. Third party candidates don’t count (unfortunately). It would be great to have a 3rd party contender that could actually compete but it will only happen once everything collaspes. The Reps and Dems will not allow it. They hold the power and are not going to let go.
    Ron Paul may not flip flop but he is not a real contender. Huckabee may not flip flop as much as Romney but he will never be the candidate – he is to fringe. Don’t you see that the candidates from the Rep and Dem parties that actually make it to the race are usually almost identical? They’ll say one thing and do another. They care about their power.
    There isn’t any point in starting another party until people realize we really only have one right now. Once everything collapses, then people will want change but right now they are too busy pondering the big issues like Palin’s sister in law and her pregeant daughter.


  18. Re #24 “Palin’s sister in law and her pregeant [sic] daughter” would not have become issues if Palin would not have preached “traditional family”, “abstinence only”, “no sex before marriage”, etc. The contrast with practice in her family, which she used as political props, was somewhat too obvious.

    But I agree, there are much bigger issues around Palin.Like the connection to the Scientology cult, where the original post in this thread is about; her anti science creationism; and her eagerness for [nuclear] war with Russia while knowing nothing about Russia, not knowing what the Bush doctrine was, etc. Being under 50 (so unlike McCain, still with potentially a long time political career) and being probably better known nationally than Republicans like Romney, she does have at least some chance of being Republican candidate in 2012.



    Todd Palin’s half-sister arrested for burglary

    Posted by Alaska_Politics

    Posted: April 3, 2009 – 12:00 pm

    Comments (65) | Recommend (35)

    >From Zaz Hollander in Wasilla:

    Todd Palin’s half-sister was arrested Thursday after police say she
    broke into a Wasilla home for the second time this week to steal

    Palin is the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin. He declined comment.

    Diana Palin, 35, entered a home near Wasilla’s Multi-Use Sports
    Complex and attempted to steal cash from the owner’s bedroom, police

    She also broke into the same house on Tuesday and stole $400, they

    She was arrested Thursday morning on felony charges of first-degree
    burglary and misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and theft,
    police said. Friday morning, she remained jailed at Mat-Su Pretrial
    Facility in Palmer in lieu of $10,000 bail and court-approved third
    party custodian.

    Diana and her husband, Scott McLean, live in a different
    neighborhood from the location of the home she is accused of

    McLean said Friday he didn’t recognize the street where his wife was
    arrested and had no idea why she might do what police say she did.
    McLean described Diana Palin asa stay-at-home mom who takes good
    care of their two young children.

    McLean said he got a call Thursday around 10:30 a.m. from police,
    asking him to come pick up their 4-year-old daughter, and has heard
    nothing since.


  20. Do you really think she can control her daughter’s sex life? She can hold those beliefs and preach them all day long and because her daughter doesn’t do what she says that does not make her beliefs invalid. Anybody who has ever raised a teenager knows you can point them in the direction you want them to go in but ultimately they are going to do what they want. She can still hold her values regardless of her daughter’s actions. My son broke the law when he was 18, so does that mean I can’t speak out against law breakers? Flawed logic.
    Drop the political prop thing already – we have determined that all Rep and Dem candidates do the same thing with their families. Is she had left them at home and never brought them out the media would have had a field day with that also. It was a no win for her once they decided to take her down. Maybe they should have sent their daughter to a home for unwed teens? Would the left have been happy with that? No matter what she did with her family, it was or would have been critized. But once again, it is such a non story. The left should be happy if she is the candidate in 2012 – she could probably be beaten easily. I don’t remember her being overly eager for war with Russia and I’m not really concerned about her view of creation. And I don’t believe there is Scientology connection – I think it is all hype.


  21. “I don’t remember her being overly eager for war with Russia”. See here.

    “I’m not really concerned about her view of creation.” She believes that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time. That is anti science nonsense. As president, she would have powers to defund bona fide science and give research money instead to creationist pseudo scientists with anti biology views like hers. A very dismal prospect.

    The Scientology connection: see the original blog post which started this thread.


  22. Kurtz: Should media steer clear of Palin-Johnston saga?

    * Story Highlights
    * Kurtz asks if media should focus on personal lives of Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin
    * Johnston told his side of the story in recent television interviews
    * Gov. Sarah Palin accused him of lying “in a quest for fame”
    * Palin introduced them at RNC: She can’t hide them when things go sour, Kurtz says

    By Howard Kurtz
    CNN “Reliable Sources” Host

    (CNN) — On last Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” I made a last-minute decision to add an item about Bristol Palin’s ex-boyfriend — not because I’m particularly fascinated by the ex-boyfriend, mind you, but because Sarah Palin had just ripped Levi Johnston apart.

    Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin appeared together at the Republican National Convention in September.

    “We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship,” the Alaska governor said in a statement released by her office.

    Not since the last time she opened fire on a caribou has Palin used that kind of ammunition — which had the effect of boosting interest in the young man’s appearance with Tyra Banks. And the Tyra sitdown got Levi an even bigger audience, with Maggie Rodriguez on CBS’s “Early Show.”

    What a mess. But is it a highly personal mess involving two 18-year-olds that we in the media should avoid?

    I put that question to Deborah Norville of “Inside Edition” and Washington Post gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger for a segment that will air Sunday morning at 10 ET on “Reliable.”

    Why would Levi Johnston, having just split up with the woman whose baby he fathered, seek out the TV spotlight?

    “It’s very intoxicating,” says Norville, a former “Today” co-host, “when the producer from New York calls you up and says, we’d be happy to fly you and your mom and your sister to New York, we’ll put you up in a nice hotel, we’ll have fancy cars for you, maybe we can even get you tickets to go see the Statue of Liberty.”

    Argetsinger is conflicted about the media’s role in the saga. “I feel a little bit hypocritical here,” she says. “On the one hand, would I like to have an interview with Levi Johnston? Heck, yes. I would. I’d be delighted to talk with him.”

    Norville, meanwhile, says this wasn’t high-quality journalism: “If you’re going to do the interview, do a good interview. Please ask follow-up questions.” On the “Early Show,” when Johnston was asked about the governor’s insistence that he hadn’t lived with the family, “he said, ‘Yes, I stayed there.’ How many nights did you stay there? Did you stay there for weeks at a time? Did you stay one night on occasion? Did the governor know when you were staying there?”

    My gut instinct is that journalists ought to leave these young people alone. Bristol Palin is famous only because her mother ran for vice president, and Levi is semi-famous because he happened to be the boyfriend who knocked up the daughter. Neither one, in other words, asked to be a public figure.

    But here’s the rub. Gov. Palin trotted out Levi at the Republican convention and said he’d be marrying her daughter, all to present a nice family image for her debut as John McCain’s running mate.

    Once you do that, you can’t hide the kids behind a curtain when things go sour.

    And Bristol did an interview a few weeks back with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News in which she said Levi was playing an important role in the baby’s life and did not mention the breakup. Under those circumstances, you can hardly blame Levi for wanting to tell his side of the story.

    A more public figure who also hit the airwaves this week is Eliot Spitzer, or, as I still think of him, Client No. 9. The former New York governor, who resigned a year ago over his involvement with prostitutes, clearly wants to be a player on financial issues.

    He’s already written pieces for Slate and The Washington Post. But he couldn’t keep ducking his sordid past forever. So he sat down with Matt Lauer.

    Spitzer said he had only gone to high-priced call girls a few times, but Norville is critical of the “Today” interview. “He didn’t talk about how many times when Matt asked him, how often did you frequent these kinds of people? He didn’t say, even though prosecutors say as much as $80,000 was spent. You can’t say it was just a few times. But Spitzer managed to do the interview and not really say anything.”

    A question for my colleagues: Should we care about Spitzer’s views on AIG when he broke the law with Kristin, and humiliated his family in the process?

    There are, without question, more pressing issues right now than hookers and one out-of-wedlock baby. But if national programs are going to devote precious airtime to this sort of thing, we ought to examine what they’re doing and why.


  23. Sarah Palin Suffers Massive Political Fallout from Her Latest Nutcase Nominee

    By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted April 14, 2009.

    The governor is reeling after nominating for attorney general a man who allegedly defended the right of men to rape their wives.


    While priming her political machine for a likely 2012 presidential primary run, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fomented a scandal that threatens to further erode her reputation in the Last Frontier.

    In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation. However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” hailed the “courage” of a student who lionized the Ku Klux Klan, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives. According to two sources close to the confirmation hearings, Palin may ask Ross to withdraw before his appointment comes to a vote.

    Palin’s hopes for a swift confirmation process were dashed April 10 when Leah Burton, a veteran lobbyist on children’s issues and domestic violence, submitted a letter to the Alaska State Judiciary Committee claiming that Ross publicly defended spousal rape. According to Burton, who detailed the allegations for me, Ross allegedly declared during a speech before a 1991 gathering of the “father’s rights” group Dads Against Discrimination, “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?” (In a subsequent letter, Ross denied the remark and claimed, “I don’t talk like that!”)

    Burton said Ross’s statement was consistent with his overarching attitude toward women’s issues. She claimed that he once said during a debate on the Equal Rights Amendment, “If a woman would keep her mouth shut, there wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence.” Burton also maintained she has been in touch with “a number” of domestic-violence victims who witnessed Ross make “horrible” statements, but are too intimidated to speak out. “Alaska is a very small state and it’s terrifying for these victims to come forward because they’re afraid of retribution,” Burton told me.

    Since Burton’s testimony, her father, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Richard Burton, wrote a letter of his own demanding to Ross that he withdraw his nomination. “You sir, speak and act like the kind of bully I met many times when responding to domestic-violence calls, some of the most dangerous situations police officers are often in,” Burton wrote. Ross reacted with characteristic fury to the Burtons’ broadsides, barking to reporters that if “anybody said that to me, we’d have a little confrontation because that’s a bunch of crap.” At the same time, a grassroots group raising support for Palin’s presidential bid called Conservatives4Palin attacked Leah Burton as an anti-Christian “fringe nutcase.”

    But as pro-Palin forces attempted to push back against Ross’s critics, dozens of op-eds Ross authored during the 1980s and 1990s surfaced as key exhibits in the case against his confirmation. Among them is a 1993 piece entitled, “KKK ‘art’ project gets ‘A’ for courage,” in which Ross cheered on a local college student who had offended an African-American classmate by creating a statue of a Klansman with a cross in one hand and a flag in the other. “It might have been fun to see [the African-American student] try to remove the display,” Ross wrote. “Then she could have been arrested and her future as a student of the university could have been resolved through the university disciplinary proceedings.”

    During the early 1980s, while Anchorage residents grappled over renaming the city’s 15th Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and state legislators mulled establishing a state holiday honoring the assassinated civil-rights leader, Ross wrote several manifestoes attacking King as a communist subversive, according to University of Alaska-Anchorage music professor and local progressive activist Phil Munger. Munger also told me Ross has routinely appeared at public events beside his friend, Don Tanner, a white nationalist who moved to South Africa for a period during the 1980s to support its apartheid government, and who reveled crowds of conservatives with anti-black “South African jokes” upon his return to Alaska.

    A glance at Ross’s published archive shows he never limited his resentment to minorities. He taunted environmentalists (“It is time we quit crying over the oil spill” was the title of an editorial he wrote in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster); he denounced homosexuals as “degenerates” during a 1993 legal fight over a local gay-rights ordinance; and announced that his final wish before dying was to overturn Roe v. Wade. While rising through the ranks of the NRA’s national leadership in the 1980s, Ross published a piece in the mercenary magazine Soldier of Fortune, defending the right to form antigovernment militias.

    “Ross’s profile fits where Palin wants to go after the current legislative session ends,” Munger remarked to me. “She seems to be planning some behind-the-scenes movement to stir up the crazies, especially by convincing them the federal government is going take their guns away. So nobody here is surprised by this selection.”

    While Ross sustained withering criticism for his views on social issues, Native American tribes denounced his vociferous opposition to their subsistence rights. The tribes were especially disturbed by his vow during a 2002 gubernatorial debate to “hire a band of junkyard dog” attorneys to gut federal laws guaranteeing natives subsistence preferences. “It almost looked like she was rubbing our face in Anthony Ross’s appointment,” said Tim Towarak, co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, told The Bristol Bay Times. “Like rubbing our face on the ground, saying ‘Here, take this.’” With increasingly powerful tribal groups mobilizing a united front against Ross, Palin was compelled to defend her own record, pleading, “Obviously I am not anti-Native and would never appoint anyone who is.”

    If Palin withdraws Ross’s nomination, she could end another embarrassing political spectacle before it registers on the national press corps’ radar. Alternatively, if she manages to ram his appointment through, Palin can begin implementing a hard-right legal agenda that will appeal to the elements she is cultivating as the base of her likely 2012 presidential campaign. However Palin decides to proceed with W.A.R., by nominating him, she has staked out the culture war as the fuel for her national ambitions.


    See more stories tagged with: politics, native americans, alaska, sarah palin, max blumenthal, palin 2012, richard burton, alaska politics, palin controversy, wayne anthony ross, alaska attorney general, palin appointment, rape his wife, leah burton, palin presidential candid

    Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is forthcoming in Spring 2009. Contact him at


  24. After twenty per cent of conservatives voted for Obama, the Republican party was left in tatters. Oliver Burkeman asks key figures – what next?

    The Republican party was in “a world of pain”, the centrist Republican columnist David Brooks argued shortly after Obama’s victory. “It’s just a circular firing squad, with everybody attacking each other and no coherent belief system, no leaders. You’ve got half the party waiting for Sarah Palin to come rescue them. The other half waiting for Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, to come rescue them. But no set of beliefs. Really a decayed conservative infrastructure.”


  25. Shane Murphy, second-in-command aboard the ship seized by Somali pirates this month, is happy to be home. But he’s not happy to be sharing turf with land-lubber Rush Limbaugh, who politicized the pirate affair by referring to the pirates as “black teenagers.”

    “It feels great to be home,” said Murphy in an interview with WCBV in Boston. “It feels like everyone around here has my back, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh, who is trying to make this into a race issue…that’s disgusting.”

    Limbaugh made the remark to suggest why President obama might have appeared preoccupied at church on the day of the operation to rescue the ship’s captain, who was taken hostage by the pirates until Navy SEAL snipers shot them in a daring rescue effort.

    “He was worried about the order he had given to wipe out three teenagers on the high seas,” Limbaugh said. “Black Muslim teenagers.”

    “You gotta get with us or against us here, Rush,” Murphy said. “The president did the right thing…It’s a war…. It’s about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It’s hate speech. I won’t tolerate it.”


  26. May 10, 1:57 PM EDT

    Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future

    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Dick Cheney made clear Sunday he’d rather follow firebrand broadcaster Rush Limbaugh than former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell into political battle over the future of the Republican Party.

    Even as Cheney embraced efforts to expand the party by ex-Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the House’s No. 2 Republican, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the former vice president appeared to write his one-time colleague Powell out of the GOP.

    Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”

    Powell, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush and held the nation’s top military post under President George H.W. Bush, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president last year. Nonetheless, since the election he has described himself as a Republican and a right-of-center conservative, though “not as right as others would like.”

    Cheney, citing Powell’s backing of Obama over Republican nominee John McCain, said, “I assumed that that is some indication of his loyalty and his interests.”

    Cheney’s remarks on CBS’ “Face the Nation” were the latest step in his slow-motion estrangement from Powell since the two worked closely together to manage the Persian Gulf war in 1991 – Powell as the Army general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Cheney as defense secretary for the elder Bush.

    Under the younger Bush, Powell initially backed action against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and delivered a famous U.N. speech laying out the U.S. case. But Powell and Cheney increasingly parted ways over the Bush administration’s policies on the war and terrorism, with Cheney usually prevailing. Powell left the administration after Bush’s first term.

    Wading into the debate over the GOP’s future, Cheney called efforts by George W. Bush’s brother Jeb, along with Cantor and Romney, as “a good thing to do,” but set a limit on how far the party should go.

    “The suggestion our Democratic friends always make is somehow if you Republicans were just more like Democrats, you’d win elections,” Cheney said. “Well, I don’t buy that. We win elections when we have good solid conservative principles to run upon.”

    Powell has argued the Republican Party needs to move toward the center and reach out to growing black, Hispanic and Asian communities, but instead has been shrinking because it hasn’t changed as the country changed in the face of economic distress. “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less,” Powell said last week.

    For months, Powell has urged the party to turn away from the acid-tongued Limbaugh. “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without,” Powell said.

    “Colin Powell is just another liberal,” Limbaugh retorted. “What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat.” Limbaugh said Powell is “just mad at me because I’m the one person in the country that had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama. It was purely and solely based on race.” Both Powell and Obama are black.

    On other topics on the CBS interview, Cheney:

    -said transferring suspected terrorists from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States would be a bad idea that would enlarge their legal rights. Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James Jones, told ABC’s “This Week” the White House isn’t going to do that if it would make Americans less safe.

    -reiterated his belief the U.S. has become more vulnerable to a potential terrorist attack since the Obama administration renounced harsh interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, that Cheney said provided good intelligence. Jones said he didn’t believe the nation was at greater risk and that even some in the Bush administration disagreed with Cheney on that score.

    -renewed his call for the administration to release two CIA memos he said list successes derived from those interrogations, including “attack planning that was under way and how it was stopped.” The Obama administration is reviewing Cheney’s request. Obama has said the memos are not so clear-cut and do not address whether the information could have been obtained without such methods.

    -said he has been speaking out about the Obama administration although George W. Bush remains silent, because if he didn’t, “then the critics have free run, and there isn’t anybody there on the other side to tell the truth.”


  27. Pingback: Katie Holmes breaks with Scientology, Cruise | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  28. Pingback: Scientology cult still hounding critic after forty years | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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