Twenty years ago, NBC's "Today" devoted three days of interviews to the insufferable Kitty Kelley, who unspooled baseless allegations against Nancy Reagan, like her supposed love affair with Frank Sinatra. That kind of tabloid bilge belched back up the garbage disposal on Sept. 16, when "Today" promoted the new Palin-bashing book "The Rogue," by leftist author Joe McGinniss.
NBC doesn't have an evidence standard when its conservatives are being gored. With liberals, it's a different story. NBC didn't give a second to McGinniss after liberals roundly condemned him in 1993 for his Ted Kennedy book "The Last Brother." In 1996, after the Clinton White House complained, "Dateline NBC" canceled an interview with author and former Secret Service agent Gary Aldrich on his anti-Clinton book "Unlimited Access."
This time, McGinniss was out to destroy Sarah Palin, and NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie rolled out the red carpet. McGinniss called Palin "An utter fraud. An absolute and utter fraud." Guthrie added: "You called her a tenth-grade mean girl." McGinniss insisted "those are kind words compared to a lot of what you would hear in Wasilla...the people who know her best like her least."
Who are "the people"? When the target is a conservative, NBC's "news" programs clearly don't find it necessary to prove damaging personal charges from anonymous character assassins before spreading them. Guthrie enabled McGinniss as the personal attacks mounted. "He accuses the famed hockey mom of using her children as props and reports she was not much of a mother at all." She was "virtually nonexistent as a mother," insisted McGinniss. Guthrie also forwards that Todd and Sarah Palin were "fighting incessantly and threatening divorce."
The Palins also used cocaine, according to the NBC manure-spreaders. Guthrie touted: "Another bombshell, McGinniss writes that both Todd and Sarah have used cocaine in the past, a claim that has not been verified. How do you substantiate something like that?"
Better question: If it isn't verified, why the hell did you report it?
McGinniss replied: "Well, you talk to somebody who snorted it with her, and you talk to many of Todd's friends who describe him as having been on the end of the straw frequently in his youth. I'm not saying that Todd and Sarah Palin today abuse cocaine or even use it. But there's no question that they both did at one point in their lives."
Who are these "many friends"? How about naming just...one?
How are liberals treated when the story deals with drugs? On Dec. 14, 2007, this same NBC program put on the shame-shame faces when one of Hillary Clinton's campaign co-chairmen resigned after suggesting "Republicans could attack Obama for using drugs." His source?
That would be Obama's 1995 memoir "Dreams from My Father," page 93, about his high school years and cocaine: "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it."
Still Hillary Clinton was scolded and had to apologize. In an Andrea Mitchell report, NBC replayed a clip of a 2004 interview when Tom Brokaw asked Obama if Republicans could exploit it, and Obama dismissed it: "They already have." Mitchell said the American people didn't like these stories: "Clinton allies have been openly frustrated that people are not paying more attention to Obama's teenage drug use. And their problem now is that that is exactly the kind of politics that Iowans say they don't like."
But that "kind of politics" is fair game for the GOP — even when Sarah Palin isn't currently running for anything.
After Mitchell's report on Clinton's apology, the late Tim Russert even mourned the lack of journalistic ethics: "But the difference is, there used to be more of a filter. Now with so many media outlets, this explosion of the information spectrum with cable and radio and the Internet, little things like this suddenly explode because, they're, quote, 'in play.' And we're talking about it this morning." This line is a sick joke when you look at the network promotion of hatchet-job authors like Kelley and McGinniss.
NBC's Guthrie also helped champion McGinniss' claim that Palin slept with a pro-basketball star: "McGinniss also quotes friends who speak of a sexual encounter Palin had with basketball star Glen Rice in 1987, while she was a sports reporter for a local Anchorage station, prior to her marriage." Who needs proof of Palin's romances at 23?
Then Guthrie wrapped up: "McGinniss portrays Palin as hands off when it came to governing Alaska, but a ruthless political opportunist who crushed her enemies and rarely lived up to the fiscal conservative image she championed." He said "At best, she's a hypocrite...At worst, she's a vindictive hypocrite."
Truer words were never spoken...if they were applied to the news manufacturers at NBC.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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