Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. (Photo: Henny Ray Abrams / AP)
I don't know what Fox News producer Shushannah Walshe's angle is. While posing as a completely impartial Fox News journalist, she is deliberately trying to create a horrible composite view of Sarah Palin!
She must know - as we all do - that her job is to be fair and balanced. Yet, for weeks, while embedded with the Sarah Palin campaign, Walshe has been recklessly disclosing entirely accurate information about the governor of Alaska, mostly on her FoxNews.com Embeds Blog, but at times even on air, with absolutely no regard for its subversive effect. Fortunately, however, the McCain-Palin campaign's deputy communications director, Michael Goldfarb, is on high alert for just this type of stealth journalism and he is not shy about making his feelings known.
Goldfarb knows a thing or two about biased reporting. Before jumping on the Straight Talk Express, the Republican candidates' online spokesperson was the Internet voice of that eminently neutral publication The Weekly Standard. Furthermore, in 2007, he received a $25,000 fellowship to write a magazine-length piece entitled "The Upside of Global Warming." Who provided the funds for this project? The Phillips Foundation, which, as it explains in its own web site, is specifically dedicated to both the promotion of "objective journalism" and the Republican College Leaders Scholarship Program.
So, there you go. Goldfarb is a fellow in an organization that is dedicated to objective journalism. So when he speaks, or at least writes, about The New York Times's journalistic standards, we should listen. Here, in part, is what Goldfarb posted on the McCain-Palin web site in the wee hours of the morning of September 24, by way of response to the Times September 23 article about McCain aide Rick Davis's connections to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
We all understand that partisan attacks are part of the political process in this country. The debate that stems from these grand and sometimes unruly conversations is what makes this country so exceptional. Indeed, our nation has a long and proud tradition of news organizations that are ideological and partisan in nature, The Huffington Post and The New York Times being two such publications. We celebrate their contribution to the political fabric of America. But while the Huffington Post is utterly transparent, The New York Times obscures its true intentions - to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama - under the cloak of objective journalism.
O.K. The Times is so busted. In fact, looking back at things now, it's clear that they've had an anti-John McCain agenda for years. And what better way to obscure the paper's underlying hostility than by shoring up McCain's bogus arguments for war with the publication of baseless articles about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction?
It was a brilliant deceit. And even more brilliant on the part of Goldfarb to figure it out. But now he needs to take a closer look at Fox News. Those guys have been much, much sneakier, hiding their true intention to boost Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid by mindlessly trashing not just Obama, but all Democrats - except Joe Lieberman - for years. What a great setup for tricking people into paying attention to Walshe's partisan truth-telling about Palin.
Walshe is a remarkably clever con artist. In early September, on camera with Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, Walshe acted excited about Palin and her own good fortune in being assigned to travel with the campaign. She may have seemed ecstatic, fairly jumping out of her chair as she talked about the inside access she would have as an embed. But that pretense was undoubtedly part of the scam.
It was just days later, in fact, that Walshe began shedding her disguise as a fair and balanced pro-Palin Fox News journalist. She became relentless, making comments and posting blogs in a faux straightforward manner, undoubtedly designed to advance her covert plan to advance Obama's campaign. Here is just a sampling of these outrageous partisan attacks:
On September 8, Walshe told Fox's Brian Wilson that the press was not getting much access to Palin at all: "But, as you know, the more access we get, the more press availability, there may be more gaffes, more mistakes and they don't want that." The same day, Walshe quietly pointed out that the McCain-Palin campaign's new commercial claims the "duo will take on Washington," but "does not reveal that Governor Palin did support the Bridge to Nowhere, the much-maligned bridge to a tiny populated island in her home state when she ran for governor in 2006, but opposed it when she became governor of Alaska." Still later, from Lee's Summit, Missouri, Walshe lobbed another zinger: "Governor Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama today for requesting earmarks while she touted her own budget-cutting record at a rally here ...She didn't mention the earmarks she has accepted for Alaska which amounted to 52 earmarks valued at $256 million in her first year, and 31 earmarks valued at $197 million this year." On September 9, she wrote, "There's no doubt about it - she's a superstar. Well, at least to her supporters." September 10: "Palin is staying completely on message. Her stump today was word for word to the speeches she gave at their two rallies yesterday." September 13: "In response to a Boston Globe article today, the Palin camp has been forced to clarify exactly where Sarah Palin traveled in her July 2007 trip to the Middle East to visit Alaskan National Guard troops. Previously, the campaign said she had traveled to Iraq to visit Alaskan soldiers, but the Globe reported today that it was just a border crossing between Kuwait and Iraq ... Today, the Palin camp responded that the vice-presidential nominee did cross into Iraq, but it was a quick trip." From Carson City, Nevada, on September 13: "In her first campaign event since she left her native state of Alaska, Sarah Palin brought back some lines to her stump speech that she took out for the hometown crowds in Fairbanks and Anchorage.... To prove her maverick past she repeated an anecdote wildly told on the trail, but eliminated in Alaska. That she got rid of the Alaska governor's private jet and put it on EBay. She does not add that the plane did not sell on EBay and it had to be taken off the web site and then sold through a broker." September 15: "Both Palin and John McCain have touted the statistic that Alaska provides 20 percent of the domestic energy supply. But, the nonpartisan group, Factcheck.org says it is not true. Instead they say it is much lower." September 16: "The governor of Alaska spoke first and blasted Barack Obama insisting that he would raise taxes on Americans ... Obama has consistently said that he would not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than 250,000 dollars a year. The Democratic nominee has said that he would give credits of 500 dollars to people making less that 150,000 dollars and up to 1,000 dollars per family." And here, in a post headlined "Where's Sarah?" is what Walshe had to say on September 19: "Sarah Palin is spending her weekend in Orlando and for most of that time she has no schedule. On the campaign trail, it is called down time, and due to the maddening pace of covering a presidential campaign it is usually a welcome relief for their harried press corps. But, the Alaska governor has a lot of down time - the campaign usually says she is in meetings or prepping, but no real specifics on what she is exactly doing. Most of this weekend, she will be off the trail in Orlando."
Why would the Fox News embed producer, with the closest access to Palin, smear her this way day after day? Why would she neutrally print facts, which leave the definite impression that Palin - whether she does or does not talk - inevitably reveals herself to be not only spectacularly unqualified to hold the second highest office in the land, but also dishonest to her core?
Could it be that Walshe is merely trying to provide the public with accurate information?
Well, that strains credulity. Far more likely, is that the suspiciously forthright Walshe is trying to obscure her true intent - to undermine the Republicans and support the Democrats - by hiding under one of those New York Times-like "cloak[s] of objective journalism." Maybe McCain-Palin campaign spokesperson Goldfarb hasn't caught on to the Fox News embed producer's scheme yet, but, as far as I'm concerned, the jig is up. Goldfarb should start calling out CBS's Katie Couric, too. She's acting really elitist.