The Hal Blog II

NOVEMBER 5, 2008 9:27PM

Off The Record Till Election Day, Palin Truths Now Spill Out

Rate: 14 Flag

In what is sure to be the beginning of a tidal wave of gossip about Sarah Palin, her beliefs and conduct, Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Carl Cameron shares some of his knowledge about the behind-the-scenes goings-on. Let's just say, in addition to her well-known belief that man and dinosaur co-existed, it seems Gov. Palin also didn't understand that Africa was a continent. And that's just the tip of the iceberg... 

Meanwhile, my American friend who lives on that mysterious continent wrote a letter yesterday to Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic. He printed it. Here's what she said:

I'm an American living in Gabon, in west central Africa. After reading what other international readers have written you tonight, I thought I'd add that the Gabonese (and many Africans living here from numerous countries across the continent) are euphoric at the thought that a man with (as they call it) "African blood" could possibly become president of the United States. There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air, and as I sit here at nearly two in the morning watching the US news from thousands of miles away I feel proud to be from the country that made this possible. I can only begin to imagine what an Obama election could mean for the entire world. 

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Well, now they've been relegated to the dustbin of history as candidates, we can actually have a laugh about the silliness of their campaign. Of course, it's still disheartening that this campaign ever happened as it did; it says a lot about how far America has fallen.

Thank you Stelaa. That was my thought too as the reporter was talking about Gov Palin's alleged ..shortcomings. Clearly what she lacked in knowledgibility, she made up for in charisma-ble...ness... :p
Maybe George Bush didn't know that Africa is a continent, too. It will be fascinating to see what other revelations come out in the coming days and weeks.
Your piece reminds how happy I am now that I need not see, hear, or read anything that has anything to do with Palin again--(or at least for three more years) and what a sweet relief that is.
George Bush did not know that Africa was a continent, or that it comprised different nations. He referred to it, stupidly and famously as the nation of Africa.

And isn't it frightening that this guy could reveal gross inadequacies in Palin's knowledge(or intelligence) and still point out how great she was for the ticket. Says a lot about a large chuck of America. And even more about the win-at-all-costs philosophy of the right.
Let's remember 2 things:
1) Palin was picked by James Dobson & Ralph Reed of the far right Council on National Policy. This very disturbing group is part of the Focus on the Family organization. She had also been trumpeted by Rush Limbaugh for months before the Republican Convention. John McCain took her on short notice because his choice, Lieberman, was unacceptable and Rove's choice, Romney was also persona non grata to the right wing, which still weilds considerable power.
2) When Palin was picked, she and McCain surged ahead for about 2 weeks in the polls. If not for the meltdown in the financial markets we may very well be slitting our collective wrists today.
America really needs a fresh start, but expect that Palin will be sniffing around in 4 years, unless she gets canned by whatever commission in Alaska has the power to do so over her abuse of office in the "Troopergate" affair (or whatever else will be dug up between now and then)>
Wait a second, what's a continent?
And this catty attempt to tear down a woman matters because?
People just can't get away from the bump in the polls after she was picked vs. the economic crash argument. Sarah Palin was a popular pick for the base, and for other Republicans because it fit with this dopey "maverick" image. She remained popular until she opened her mouth without a teleprompter in front of her face. The Gibson and Couric interviews exposed her glaring lack of substance.

McCain may have been pressured to pick her over Lieberman, Romney or Ridge, but he picked. He was the candidate. He "approved the message."

And I see we still can't criticize her without a charge of sexism being leveled.

Stephanie -- my wife is from West Virginia. Get west of the Mississippi and folks think you mean "western Virginia." Sarah's not the only one who needs a Geography textbook in the Christmas stocking.
The Newsweek behind the scenes coverage of both campaigns is coming out now, and from what I can tell, Palin was more or less McCain's big "F-You" to the GOP for not letting him make the more maverick choice with Lieberman.
She was the dull blade he used to spite his face.

I don't see this as "a caddy attempt to tear down a woman." These stories merely confirm what most of us suspected about THE woman whose hubris and ambition got the better of her.
Palin is not a child. Palin is not a meek and delicate flower.
She could have said no to the job for which she is clearly not ready.
What makes Sarah Palin's lack of knowledge of geography, history and political science so pathetic is that it is shared by the vast majority of Americans. Our schools no longer teach geography, history in any real sense or the basics of governmental structure ( what was once called Civics). Now kids get a hodge podge of information in a course called Social Studies with little discrimination between what is vital to know, ie the Bill of Rights, and how to weave a Navaho basket. Sarah Palin is a result of this education. Her handlers could not "brief" her adequately because she had no framework of knowledge to hang new information and make it meaningful to her. Consequently, when cornered, she spoke convoluted nonsense.
It is disheartening that the Clintonistas, so horribly upset over Hillary's demise attacked with impunity a woman who was her obvious better.
The only one in the campaign who was not aware that Africa was a continent was Obama.
Lilian, please expand.
A few thoughts:

(1) My geography knowledge is not the stuff of legends---but even I grasp major concepts--like continents.
(2) I originally hail from NJ. When I moved to CA I was astounded by the number of people who didn't realise that NJ was a state and not part of---say--NY. Again, the 13 original colonies, major concept.
(3) Not only is Palin dumber than dirt, she's dumber than George Bush. Just let that sink in for a minute. And even though I don't agree with a single breath Bush has taken, I'd be hard pressed to call him a racist. (New Orleans, not so much about race as about being a total buffoon.) I think under Palin's raven locks, there is a skinhead yearning to break free.
(4) Don't call this sexist. There are many, many qualified women who could have run for President or VP---In fact, I find it ridiculous to even have to "qualify" that statement --It's time we stopped mentioning woman/man/black etc. --pols are either qualified or not--Palin is not!
Thank you for the opportunity to get this off my chest. Now, I'll put the coffee cup done for the rest of the day.
That would be "down" for the rest of the day:)
Hal, I saw this on HuffPo and elsewhere. It's stunning, really.

But I can't help but be grateful. Were it not for Sarah Palin, this would have been a much closer election, I think.

Also, even though I feel guilty about it, I'm really enjoying the anticipated cascade of revelations of just how big a disaster she really was.
Wait a minute...Africa is a continent?
I know that y'all are just having fun but it is at the expense of someone else. How 'bout we ease up a while?
Oh, and keep in mind that Obama (whom I voted for) didn't know how many states there are in the Union.
You know what disturbs me? This "reporter" (read my air quotes, please!) for Fox admits he couldn't reveal the problems behind the scene because it was off the record. That's BS. That's big BS.

Reporters can REPORT what they observe. He may not have been able to name sources, but he could have indicated all was not well, and given some examples to clue America in on the dysfunctional nature of the campaign. Or of Sarah's credentials. (He might have lost his seat on the Straight Talk Express, but did that really matter in light of news of national importance?)

That he and Fox remained silent says a lot. It's not surprising, but it speaks volumes. My view: Don't come back to us now and say, "Oh, we knew, we just weren't at liberty to say." Sure you were. You chose not to, and therein lies the problem with large, biased MSM outlets like Fox. "We malign, you deride."
Lisa, the "off the record" thing is of course a courtesy, but it's a necessary one for a practicing journalist.

If you defy it, no one will ever talk to you again. Ever. And if you don't have access, you can't report.

Admittedly, it's a pretty "embedded" relationship if you're a political reporter, but I can't see how else it could work.
That's it Lisa! This is something that they should have divulged but chose not to. I think I learned about Continents in 5th grade?
Nice one, Stellaa. I caught that too.
I thought it seemed like a made-up word - sort of like "strategery." However, it actually is a word. According to knowledgeability is a noun meaning: "wisdom as evidenced by the possession of knowledge; 'his knowledgeability impressed me'; "his dullness was due to lack of initiation."

However, it's not a word I would use. I think most of America already decided that Gov. Palin was the real "empty suit." There are probably only two kinds of people who will remain to defend her: feminists who view nearly every attack on her as sexist and christian conservatives who dismiss the opinions of the "media elite." The good news is that the former can't actually bring themselves to actually vote for her.
I think she's the new Dan Quayle - in four years she'll be back (which is why this is relevant) but will struggle to get a real campaign off the ground. If I was in that evangelical camp, I'd much prefer Mike Huckabee.

For what it's worth, I find it hard to believe she really didn't know Africa is a continent. The rest of it, I find more plausible.

Read more at ABC News:
Strains Between McCain and Palin Aides Go Public
Leigh - Yes, that's the issue with being embedded.... It seems like you get access, but really it creates a cozier relationship between source and reporter that makes it damn near impossible to betray any perceived trust. I'm against embedding for that reason.

Still, if all reporters - to gain access to sources - have to become embedded, then I fear for the future of the fourth estate. Because really, the info at this guy's disposal could have been passed off to another reporter, addressed in some kind of other way that could have revealed more about her lack of qualifications while protecting his position within the fold.

Imagine if she'd won. Would this guy still be saying, "I knew"? I'm thinking not, haha!
Last night my 5 year old daugher told me what she learned in school. She learned the continents. She told me they were "North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Ant-articitia." She then had trouble remembering the "E" one as she called it. "England?" she guessed.

But my five year old knows that Africa is a content. She could even show you where on a world map. The fact that my five year old knows more about the world than Sarah Palin is why Palin will be a flash in the pan. This talk of her running in four years is an unrealistic dream on the part of fellow, stupid rightwingers.
And again, "knowledgibility?"
Perhaps I am more cynical than the average bear, but an important element of the media today is ownership. Who owns what. Fox News is part of News Corp. Need I say more. Yes, "off the record" is polite journalistic necessity, but it is necessity of a certain era gone by, more like that of Watergate. This is 2008, and owner's censor news and tell editors what they can and can't print. Didn't we just hear all about that with the WSJ tekeover. Same owner, btw. In this case, the reporter/Fox is hiding behind what has become an archaic and outmoded expression for their own convenience to obscure censorship. Come on Hal, what has happened to truthiness.
I hate when people call Africa a country. It is beyond ridiculous, look at a map. I guess its no wonder the GOP ignore Darfur, and the DRC ceasefire. They must not know where they are.
The problem with this and what makes it sexist is that you have one reporter quoting anonymous aides. I have heard on the news today that these leaks are an organized effort to crush Governor Palin before the 2012 election campaigns kick off.

Please remember that Senator McCain picked her to be his running mate and he bears responsibility for that.

How typical for the men to now attempt to blame the woman for their screw ups and loss.

It reminds me of how the media was screaming for weeks that Senator Obama's loss would all be Senator Clinton's fault.

But keep on bashing Governor Palin. It is how the world works.
Maybe if you people would take more time to discipline your children at home (instead of waiting for the admins at school to do so), Teachers could focus on teaching (not skimming) geography, history and political science during the school day. As it is now, Teachers have to play judge, jury and oh... educator. These kids act like animals, from drinking, to defiance, to disrupting the class. Kids will be kids, I know, but at some point Parents have to be held responsible for their child's behavior and education, instead of pointing fingers. When this does happen, the kids will learn to be students, and that Africa is continent and not a country all to it's own.
Like LT, I sympathize with Governor Palin. But she has chosen politics and she understands the game. Character assassination has become a political norm in this country since the 80's, and it has been an equal opportunity tool (more like weapon). Reporting based on unnamed sources may be disinformation, but it is not necessarily sexist unless it also exploits sexual stereotypes or traits. This is not about 'women are dumber than men', but it is about an individual being held accountable for what they have said, albeit somewhat after the fact. Keep in mind that there is now a power struggle within the Republican Party. Since this article started with a FoxNews video, maybe the real significance of all this is that RM doesn't much like Governor P.
I have so much to say on this topic, all scattered thoughts:
1. (Why doesn't this say "editor's pick" even though it's on the cover?)
2. I just saw a clip b/t Carl Cameron (CC) and Bill O'Reilly about the same topic, but CC went way more into depth and BO'R kept trying to diminish the story and give Palin a break by suggesting that "anyone can be brought up to speed when it comes to information or knowledge." Well, he--and anyone who defends her on this issue--is missing the point entirely. It's her incuriosity and anti-intellectualism, stupid. In other words, how did she get here to begin with? Why do salon readers know what she doesn't? Why do many Joe the Plumbers know what she doesn't? Not only did we all learn it in school (BO'R seems to think she'd be learning it for the first time now--sorry, but she already learned it at least once), but most of us read and follow events in the nation and around the world. How could she possibly not have known the countries of the NAFTA agreement?? (Can't remember if this was on this clip or the other one). She lives in an insular world. I've said from the beginning that she's Bush all over again, and this new information completely confirms it. She's one of those who pays zero attention to anything--anything--that doesn't directly relate to her right now.
3. Nevertheless, this, combined with that other segment with Bill O'Reilly, feels like a hit piece. Can't explain why; maybe it's because I don't trust CC and FOX in general and feel they must have an ulterior motive. It's just so very unusual for them to hang out the Republicans' dirty laundry. Either that or...
4. Carl Cameron is getting more balanced. (? It's possible.)
5. What's with this "off the record" junk? I want Glenn Greenwald to do something with this. I mean, all this about a woman who was literally a heartbeat away from the US Presidency during wartime and economic disaster didn't know the countries involved in Africa or basic world geography? Not to mention the temper tantrums, etc? It feels insane and wrong to me that FOX (and other?) reporters had this knowledge but didn't expose it until after the election. In a world with very limited access to the candidates--great stadium crowds at once--how on earth are we supposed to make judgments on these people without all the information? Isn't that what the reporters are for? Why were they protecting this woman and the McCain campaign? Sure, I wasn't going to vote for her anyway, but this kind of information would have sent droves more over to Obama. It's just unconscionable that it wasn't released sooner.
As someone who has always admired Campaign Carl Cameron, I am now taking my blinders off. He sounds like an old woman gossiping across the fence about the pretty neighbor across the street. Carl, is SO beneath you!
It's not character assassination when someone running on a presidential ticket doesn't know that Africa is a continent or what countries comprise North America (not knowing what countries are a oart of NAFTA... named after our continent). If someone is going to accept running as VP with one of the presidential candidates, they sure as hell better have a grasp on the continents and countries of the world. So, to all who have a problem with nit-picking Palin, it's all justifiable. Who in the hell wants a VP who doesn't know shit about geography? I don't.

On a related note, I saw a segment on TV a while back on Bill Maher where Bush was asked what a sovereign nation is... and this was his answer, "A sovereign nation is a nation that is sovereign."

But then, of course, we discovered long ago that he's a complete dumb ass!
One of my co-workers, who's boyfriend is from the Toronto area, travels to Toronto every other weekend to visit him. She told me that there are billboards all over Canada making fun of Bush, and some of them are about illiteracy!!!

I had to laugh my ass off!!!
La Captiana13, the minute one of the "sources" goes on record, I will be willing to evaluate the claims being made about Governor Palin for veracity. Until then, all of this is spurious gossip being deliberately leaked to smear her as the cause of the Republican defeat.
ok, there are several issues at play here and I may as well weigh in on them:

1) Palin's lack of "knowledgeability" (sp?) - it became pretty clear as the campaign went on (whether on the record or off) that she was neither well-informed or particularly aware/interested in foreign affairs. Whether she knows the particulars of NAFTA or whether Africa is a continent is less important to me than that her statements about Putin, some of U.S. geography, the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan and foreign policy reflect a very simplistic, naive view.
and oh, btw - I think Obama does actually KNOW how many states there are in the U.S.; he misspoke on one occasion - that's kinda a different thing.
2) Whether she cost McCain the election will be examined and discussed for some time. I see this as neither character assassination nor sexist. Nor idle gossip.
2a) I think she cost him votes, but it would have been tough no matter what. I believe that she cost him mostly because it was a hard tack to the right. If McCain had run as a moderate/centrist/reach across the aisle kind of campaign, it would have been close. The overall direction/abdication to the angry, rabid right-wing hurt him.
2b) Why isn't anyone saying that it IS sexism that pretty much the primary reason she was chosen was because she is an attractive female (i.e., it was a tactical choice to go after women voters)?
2c) I think it is more than valid to discuss what qualifications/characteristics we would want in our candidates. I don't know whether she is stupid; I do know that she doesn't strike me as someone who considers issues very deeply or has a terrific grasp of complex issues - both of which are requirements for a world leader, in my book.

3) the issues of the media - on/off the record. corporate ownership. hmmm...I'll let others tackle those; I have nothing more to add, but it is an issue and the media needs access.
Thanks lpsrocks for that last comment and thanks to everyone else commenting here as well. I think the bottom line for me is that Sarah Palin was frighteningly ill-prepared to be a candidate in this race. I'm certain she lost votes for John McCain, but at the end of the day, it's John McCain who needs to take responsibility for that. He chose her, whether forced to or otherwise, he allowed it to happen and it was a grossly irresponsible choice. Did it cost him the election? We'll never know. But it certainly didn't help.

As for sexism, that is not an issue here, so far as I'm concerned, in regard to criticism of Palin. The absolute ridiculousness of the very notion that Sarah Palin could hold such a position as VP or President of the United States is clearly apparent to anyone with their eyes even half open. Had she been qualified, I myself may have liked her, regardless of whether or not I agreed with her ideologies or vision of America. But Sarah Palin is scary. And not just because she is geographically illiterate. That's just added justification for her not getting elected and another reason America can now breathe easy. No, Sarah Palin is a fascinating character in American history. Whether fleeting or not. And like the short but destructive role Joseph McCarthy--another American whom Sarah Palin reminds me of--played in American politics, Palin's legacy will not be a good one. She saw an open door and she went for it. And it seems she tapped into something, knew it, and ran with it. But like Joe McCarthy, people eventually realized how dangerous she was, what she was saying, preaching, inciting, and the majority distanced themselves from her. I'm sure the GOP and McCain are doing the same. And it doesn't surprise me if Fox News is as well. I have to give credit where credit is due, though. Like McCain's speech Tuesday night, which was gracious and touching regardless of whether it was made by necessity, simple common sense, or was truly heartfelt, there have been anchors at Fox this past week that have made it clear that even they have boundaries. Shep Smith's comments after interviewing Joe The Plumber last week (, or Rick Sanchez's interview of Michael Goldfarb (, the right questions were asked and there was some integrity to be found. And believe me, I have no love of Fox News. But I am nonetheless glad that these comments were made, even if the reasons were ulterior, which I have no way of knowing if they were. We have to remember, many die-hard Republicans endorsed Obama, in part because of Sarah Palin, but ultimately because of John McCain, the tenor of his campaign, the choices he made, and the people he aligned himself with.

I believe people need to take a good, close look at Sarah Palin and the people who rabidly support her. We've seen these people in American (and world) history before. Whether in the past or in the present. I think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney fall into different variations on this theme. If we don't look closely, if we don't discuss, then we're liable to forget, as is so easy to do.

I don't think Sarah Palin is a dumb woman. There are different kinds of smart. However, I believe she is a very dangerous woman if allowed to have access to a certain kind of power and any type of control over the lives of millions of people worldwide. And just like there are different kinds of "smart", there are different kinds of weak and strong. Sarah Palin may have a strong will, but she is weak, I believe, in the same way Joseph McCarthy was weak, in the same way the people who believed Barack Obama was a terrorist, a muslim, an enemy of Israel are weak.

I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief. What Sarah Palin does next is now, in part, up to us. She is a part of us, a part of America. She represents something greater than one person. I think it serves us to try and understand her and, yes, to have compassion for her. And I think, at the end of the day, it will serve us all and make us more aware to have had her so in the public eye. This whole campaign has been eye opening and phenomenally educational. I think we learned a lot about one another and ourselves. And we're still learning. And still curious.
Watching the"Today" show's bit in Alaska, I was once again incredulous at how flippantly, and without hesitation, Sarah Palin lies. In a response to a reference of her alleged "librarygate" activity, Sarah Palin said it was not possible, as the Harry Potter books hadn't been written yet. Two lies occurred here: Mrs. Palin was mayor of Wasilla from 1996-2002, while the first Potter book was published in 1998, obviously during her time in office. However, librarygate wasn't about the alleged censoring of Harry Potter, and did not even occur while Palin was actually mayor. Laura Chase and the former mayor of Wasilla, John Stein, claimed that Palin, as a city councilwoman, objected to the book "Daddy's Roommate". How is it that Mrs. Palin cannot deal, truthfully, with the (brief) time line of her political career and any controversies that may have occurred? If she didn't like a book on the shelf, it was her right as a citizen to say so. However, if as an elected official, she manipulated the situation, and people, in her efforts toward censorship, that's a different issue. Moreover, the continuing verbal discrepancies speak to something much more alarming.

How is it Mrs. Palin, or any person of public accountability, can so effortlessly speak misinformation (lies) about any issues without blinking (winking)? During the two months of Mrs. Palin's campaigning, she never spoke substance. Every stump speech was a mess of innuendo, exaggerations, and "truth stretching" (lies) spoken in the timbre of utter gossip. One of her many questionable positions, her claim of not accepting earmarks, was outrageously inconsistent with her actions as mayor and governor. Yet, no one called her on it. What's scary is that since Mrs. Palin has become so used to pitbulling everyone in her path; and, since she has not met much opposition up in Alaska (population of 600,000?), she, apparently, BELIEVES the fabrications coming out of her mouth.

Sarah Palin is a prevaricator of exceptional ease, and the mainstream, televised/published media just does not call it. And, because she may seem appealing, energetic, and charismatic, people fall for what she says. If it comes from her mouth, it must be fact. There are so many people, like Sarah Palin, who do not speak or read anything of substance. They willingly believe anything, because the packaging looks good. By golly, you betcha, if you like the sound of it, it must be true. And, this is symptomatic of what is much more alarming. We, in this country, have embraced the soundbites and have abdicated our role of learning and speaking the truth. It is apparently too difficult and time consuming to read and research the truth. And, now, in this election, we have shown that we are willing to elect someone who, so easily, demonstrates the same lack of personal accountability for learning and speaking the truth.

Of course, this does not speak well for future elections. However, the immediate implications are far more serious. If we cannot deal with the truth, if we want to put our fingers in our ears and shout "la-la-la-la!", how are we ever going to deal with the enormous economic/social/international mess in which this country now finds itself?
Onthemesa, I'm guessing from your last 2 paragraphs that you don't think highly of Barack Obama any more than Sarah Palin. Did I read that correctly? Up until that point, I share your thoughts and observations. I watched family members vote for McCain/Palin out of laziness and an inability to really try and understand what they were actually voting for and, in my opinion, an inability to be a good judge of character. However, I have more faith in Barack Obama than I have in any other candidate in my personal lifetime. That said, I will also wait and watch and hope he is what he seems to be. Truth in action. We'll see. But one thing is certain, Barack Obama is no Sarah Palin.