ABC Touts NYT 'Conservative' David Brooks to Bash Palin, Features Anonymous Fact Check

Good Morning America on Monday began a week of coverage on Sarah Palin's new book by repeatedly fact checking claims from the Republican and highlighting a attack by the liberals' favorite "conservative," New York Times columnist David Brooks. Reporter Kate Snow asserted that "even conservatives are on the attack" against Palin.

She then played a clip of Brooks from Sunday's This Week, who has previously gone after Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others: "Yeah, she's a joke. I mean I just can't take her seriously. The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination, believe me, it'll never happen."

Snow began the piece on Palin and her book Going Rogue by pointing out that "the blitz has begun and so has the fact checking." She then launched into a series of supposed corrections:

KATE SNOW: In her book, Palin says top aide Steve Schmidt yelled at her over the phone. "The force of his screaming blew my hair back. How could anyone be so stupid?" But, staffers say there was no yelling, just an e-mail saying "Who set this up? Are you kidding me?" And then there's Saturday Night Live. In her book, Palin says she wanted to appear on the show. "Let's go on and neutralize some of this and have some fun." But, in an e-mail Palin writes "These folks are whack. What's the upside in giving them or any celebrity venue a ratings boost?"

The 2008 campaign is over. Why is GMA relying on anonymous e-mails from disgruntled staffers to rebuff Palin? (Secondly, is it possible there could have been both e-mails and yelling?) Snow closed with more gossip:

SNOW: And what about Senator John McCain? There was a conference call, we've learned on Friday between McCain and many of his top Former aides. On that call, McCain essentially told them he would prefer they stay out of the Palin book coverage and not engage her. He apologized that they were going through this and told them he understood if they needed to refute factual errors or protect their own reputations. But he also said something like "This will pass and will pass faster if you all just keep quiet." He, by the way, does have a copy of the book signed by Palin. But I'm told he hasn't spoken to her in months.

Since Palin is going on the record, wouldn't it seem justifiable for news outlets to expect the same from those criticizing the former governor?

And Snow's insistence on fact checking is odd, considering that she repeatedly fawned over Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign and didn't challenge the Senator very often. On October 1, 2007, she described Clinton as "the master of a shrewd political skill, disarming her critics with a gleam in her eye and a roar straight from the belly." On October 25, 2007, as the then-presidential candidate turned 60, Snow marveled that "instead of facing gray hair and retirement, for Hillary Clinton, being a member of AARP is fund-raising gold."

To ABC's credit, a follow-up segment did critique Newsweek for putting Palin on the front cover in running shorts. Co-host Diane Sawyer wondered, "And, as we know, a lot of the guys have done running shorts pictures for running magazines. Was it fair of Newsweek to put that on their cover?"

Guest Cokie Roberts chided, "Look, she posed for that picture. So it's fair game, but it is- it is a way of saying, don't take this person seriously. She's just a chick in shorts."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:07am EST on November 16, follows:  

DIANE SAWYER: Okay, well, all of this seems ripe for a comment from our political observer ABC's Cokie Roberts. Cokie, come in this morning. Governor Palin, as you know, firing from both barrels at her own former camp. They're firing back. Ever seen anything like this before?

COKIE ROBERTS: No, this is quite remarkable. And she will be out, you know, in her bus which is covered with her picture, the cover of the book, out around the country expecting to draw huge crowds and she'll have- she'll have the loudest voice on this, for sure.

SAWYER: We have a brand-new ABC News/Washington Post poll out this morning that shows 60 percent of all Americans say they do not feel she is qualified to be president. Do not feel it, but it seems that her book strategy is gaining ground among Republicans. Because, our poll shows her numbers are up, 61 percent of Republicans do think she's qualified. Go out on a limb here. You think she's running for 2012?

ROBERTS: I think she's finding out if she's running for 2012 I think that she'll see how this goes. She'll see how bruised she gets, whether people take her seriously, whether, you know, she is the joke that you just heard David Brooks saying of her or whether she's the new Ronald Reagan, which Newt Gingrich says she might be.

SAWYER: That's right. What about a Hillary Clinton/Sarah Palin, what, coffee summit, I think they're calling it instead of the beer summit this morning. Think it'll ever happen?

ROBERTS: Wouldn't you and I like to be there with them?

SAWYER: Oh, please invite us.

ROBERTS: Well, I think it might happen someday. But, it's not likely to happen while Sarah Palin's running as a Republican and Hillary Clinton is in the Obama administration, but they could share some true stories about the sexism during the last campaign aimed at both of them.

SAWYER: I want to ask you about something going back to this Newsweek cover, and Kate showed in her piece, because the cover picture was a picture that Governor Palin did for Runners World. And, as we know, a lot of the guys have done running shorts pictures for running magazines. Was it fair of Newsweek to put that on their cover?

ROBERTS: And we haven't seen those guys in shorts on Newsweek's cover, have we? Look, she posed for that picture. So it's fair game, but it is- it is a way of saying, don't take this person seriously. She's just a chick in shorts.

SAWYER: All right. Well, thanks to you, Cokie. Checking back in with you later. And a reminder to everyone, you can see Barbara Walters' exclusive interview with Sarah Palin this week on ABC. And, of course, you know, she's also appearing other places this week and beginning tomorrow on GMA be sure to tune in to see Barbara's interview and, of course, on Friday night on 20/20.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.