Palin Accuses Alaska Media of Conspiracy

Posted October 31, 2010 at 10:28am

Updated: 4:11 p.m.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Alaska television reporters of being “corrupt bastards” and conspiring against her endorsed Senate GOP candidate in Alaska during her appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Fox News commentator and former vice presidential nominee also predicted a “political earthquake” in the midterm elections, while encouraging conservatives who win office to avoid compromising on policy and principle once they get to Washington.

Asked about her presidential ambitions, she left open the possibility that she would seek the nation’s top elected post in 2012. “I don’t need to run for office. I know that I don’t need a title,” she told host Chris Wallace. “If the country needed me, and I’m not saying that the country does … I would be willing to make the sacrifices if need be for America.”

But asked first about Tuesday’s midterm Congressional elections, Palin said voters will send a specific message to the White House: “They’re going to say, ‘You blew it, President Obama.'”

Wallace said, however, that some of Palin’s endorsed candidates, such as Senate hopefuls Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in Alaska, are struggling. Palin campaigned in Alaska last week for tea party favorite Miller, who is trailing a Palin rival, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in recent polling. The incumbent Republican is running as an independent write-in candidate following her GOP primary loss to Miller.

Palin largely blamed the Alaska media for Miller’s struggles, saying some members of the media are “complicit” with the Murkowski campaign in doing “anything” to get Murkowski elected. Wallace asked whether she was accusing Alaska reporters of conspiring with the Murkowski campaign.

Palin responded: “I’m saying that CBS reporters in the affiliate up there in Alaska on tape are saying, ‘Let’s find a child molester in the crowd as a supporter for Joe Miller; let’s blast that. Let’s concoct a Ron Paul moment there; let’s find any kind of chaos so that we can Tweet an alert saying, ‘Oh, there’s chaos. Joe Miller got punched.’ That’s sick. Those are corrupt bastards, Chris.”

Palin may have meant to refer to Rand Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Rand Paul is the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky, and video of one of his supporters assaulting a liberal activist made national news last week.

Palin did not share the recording on the show, but Miller’s campaign posted the garbled audio and a transcript on its website. The campaign said the voice mail of campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto recorded a conversation that it attributed to CBS affiliate KTVA’s assignment editor Nick McDermott and others when McDermott failed to disconnect after leaving a message. The campaign said McDermott later sent a text message to DeSoto apologizing for leaving a long message and saying he thought he had hung up.

The recording picked up laughter and snippets of conversation, which included talk of finding registered sex offenders among the crowd at a Miller rally Thursday night. There was also discussion about the potential for violence at the event. The Miller campaign said the KTVA staff members “openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about” the candidate in the recording by planning to try to identify a registered child molester among Miller’s supporters and by “hoping for violence.”

“Frankly, when I first heard this I was shocked,” DeSoto said in a statement. “Though a bit garbled at times, there are disturbing comments in this conversation that never should have occurred.”

KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever confirmed the recording’s authenticity in a statement Sunday, but he said the Miller campaign’s “analysis of the recording is incorrect.” The recording resulted from a failure to hang up a cell phone after a call to DeSoto during a coverage planning meeting Thursday afternoon, and the staff was “reviewing potential ‘what-if’ scenarios, discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news,” the statement said.

“The perception that this garbled, out of context recording may leave is unfortunate, but to allege that our staff was discussing or planning to create or fabricate stories regarding candidate Miller is absurd,” Bever said. “The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do.”

Bever declined in the statement to discuss personnel measures taken in the aftermath of the recording.

Palin is among the most popular figures in the tea party movement but remains deeply unpopular among independents and in many parts of the country, particularly in the Northeast and on the West Coast. She has campaigned with just three Senate candidates in the general election cycle and has not been invited to share the stage with her endorsed candidates in places such as California, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. But she has been used in targeted robocalls in the Pennsylvania Senate contest pitting Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak against Republican Pat Toomey.

When asked Sunday morning whether newly elected conservatives should compromise on policy or principle in Congress to make progress, Palin said no. “We want to make sure that the fundamentals are there, the fundamentals, the principles, that can allow this base of security and economic prosperity for this nation,” she said. “We can’t afford to compromise on principle thinking that we’re ever going to reach those goals.”