While a story on Sunday’s 60 Minutes about the new book, ‘Game Change,’ about the 2008 campaign, focused heavily on attacks against Sarah Palin by McCain staffers, it ignored numerous revelations of controversial statements by prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid describing Barack Obama as “light skinned” and lacking a “negro dialect.”
Acting as a guest correspondent, CNN’s Anderson Cooper cited the book’s liberal authors, New York magazine’s John Heilemann and Time’s Mark Halperin, who claimed that Palin was picked by the McCain campaign out of “desperation” after manager Rick Davis found her name on Google. At one point, Halperin went so far as to declare that: “They said, ‘there’s one Sarah who you see in public’– upbeat. But the other Sarah was the one that frightened them. It was someone whose eyes were kind of glazed over, who was literally not responding to questions, who was keeping her head down.”
Cooper made sure to highlight CBS’s role in Palin’s supposed downfall with the Evening News Katie Couric interview: “In her book, Palin accuses CBS News of editing the interview to make her look bad. But [McCain campaign advisor] Steve Schmidt told us Palin did poorly because she didn’t do her homework.” Schmidt slammed Palin, claiming she was “focused that morning on answering ten written questions from a small newspaper in Alaska called the ‘Matsu Valley Frontiersman.’” After Cooper mentioned Palin’s criticism of Couric’s “gotcha questions,” Schmidt proclaimed: “I don’t think that Katie Couric asked a single unfair question in that interview.”
The story briefly turned to the book’s detailing of problems on the Democratic side, mentioning Hillary Clinton’s surprise at being overtaken by Obama in the primaries as well as her concern that husband Bill Clinton would be an embarrassment if she were to be named secretary of state in the Obama administration. However, a controversial comment made by the former president that Obama would have “been getting them coffee” a few years before he decided to run in 2008 was not mentioned.
Also missing was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s controversial comment suggesting Obama would do well in the campaign because he was “light skinned” and did not have a “negro dialect.” In addition, there was no mention of the book’s discussion of the strained marriage of John and Elizabeth Edwards amid the Senator’s affair.
Near the end of the segment, Cooper concluded: “Schmidt now believes, if Palin is the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, it’ll be catastrophic for the party, even though he’s one of those most responsible for making her a national figure.” No such dire conclusion was made about any Democratic political figures.
Here are excerpts of the 60 Minutes story:
ANDERSON COOPER: Barack Obama is just ten days away from completing the first year of his presidency, but surprising revelations about the historic campaign that got him there are still coming to light. It turns out Hillary Clinton was so confident she would become president, that a full year before the election, she’d already started planning for her transition into the White House. That’s in a new book by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who’ve also unearthed secrets from the Republican campaign, and some of them directly contradict what Sarah Palin wrote in her book. Palin said she’d been misunderstood and mishandled by top McCain staffers. The new revelations quote McCain staffers saying Palin created most of the problems. John McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, had a major role in choosing Sarah Palin. Just days before the Republican convention, John McCain thought he’d be running with Joe Lieberman. Schmidt told us why McCain pivoted from Lieberman to Palin.
STEVE SCHMIDT: Roughly up to a week before the convention, we were still talking very seriously about Senator Lieberman. But once word leaked out that he was under serious consideration, the blowback was ferocious.
COOPER: ‘Ferocious’ because many conservatives thought Lieberman was far too liberal. Schmidt says they feared the Republican convention might reject him. McCain couldn’t risk that, so they needed a last minute replacement. So, suddenly you’re in a jam.
SCHMIDT: We were.
JOHN HEILEMANN: That’s the state of desperation they’re in as they sit down with McCain that Sunday night over a dinner of deep-fried burritos and say to him, ‘what about Sarah Palin.’
COOPER: John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of ‘Time’ covered the campaign, and spent the last two years interviewing some 200 political insiders for their book ‘Game Change.’ Among their revelations is how McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, spotted Sarah Palin while searching Google and Youtube for possible female vice presidential candidates.
MARK HALPERIN: Rick Davis saw one interview she did with Charlie Rose where she was very much the Sarah Palin that people find appealing. She was lively, she was engaging, she popped off the screen. McCain boxed himself in. He needed a game-changing pick for vice president. And that left them with a last minute pick of someone who was, to McCain, a virtual stranger, and was, to his senior staffers, an absolute stranger.
COOPER: In public, Palin looked like the game-changer McCain had wanted. But in private, the authors say, she was struggling to learn too much too fast.
HEILEMANN: Her foreign policy tutors are literally taking her through, ‘this is World War I, this is World War II, this is the Korean War, this is the – how the Cold War worked, this is the new war on terror.’ They’re trying to teach her everything, because Steve Schmidt had gone to them and said, ‘she knows nothing.’ A week later, after the convention was over, she still didn’t really understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea. She was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11. And, literally, the next day, her son was about to ship off to Iraq. And when they asked her who her son was going to fight, she couldn’t explain that.
COOPER: Still, Schmidt says she was a quick study.
SCHMIDT: Her focus was extraordinary. She was working 15, 16 hours a day. And we were pleased with the results. We were very pleased with the results.
COOPER: Pleased, he said, until that interview with Katie Couric.
PALIN: When you consider even national security issues with Russia – as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.
COOPER: In her book, Palin accuses CBS News of editing the interview to make her look bad. But Steve Schmidt told us Palin did poorly because she didn’t do her homework.
SCHMIDT: I made the case to her that, in my view, the reason that that interview was a failure was because she did not prepare for it. She was focused that morning on answering ten written questions from a small newspaper in Alaska called the ‘Matsu Valley Frontiersman.’
COOPER: She thought Katie Couric was kind of going for ‘gotcha’ questions.
SCHMIDT: I don’t think that Katie Couric asked a single unfair question in that interview.
COOPER: Palin declined to be interviewed for this report or to respond to any specific allegations, saying she’d dealt with a lot of this in her book. In their book, Halperin and Heilemann say though Palin always seemed upbeat in public, in private to campaign staffers, she was anything but.
HALPERIN: As things started to go bad, particularly after her interview with Katie Couric, she was feeling a lot of pressure. The debate was coming up. She became what they called ‘the other Sarah,’ the Sarah Palin-
COOPER: They actually called her ‘the other Sarah’?
HALPERIN: They said, ‘there’s one Sarah who you see in public’– upbeat. But the other Sarah was the one that frightened them. It was someone whose eyes were kind of glazed over, who was literally not responding to questions, who was keeping her head down.
COOPER: The authors say she hit bottom trying to prepare for her vice-presidential debate. The person in charge of her debate prep made a desperate call to Steve Schmidt.
SCHMIDT: He told us that the debate was going to be a debacle of historic and epic proportions. He told us she was not focused, she was not engaged, she was really not participating in the prep.
COOPER: So Schmidt and campaign manager Rick Davis sat in on the debate prep, and Schmidt says Palin seemed overwhelmed.
SCHMIDT: She did a good job in the debate against Senator Biden. I think she more than held her own.
COOPER: But Schmidt now believes, if Palin is the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, it’ll be catastrophic for the party, even though he’s one of those most responsible for making her a national figure. For you, picking Sarah Palin was about winning an election, not necessarily about who’s going to be best as vice president?
SCHMIDT: My job was to give political advice. We needed to do something bold to try to win the race.
COOPER: If you had it to do over again, would you have her on the ticket?
SCHMIDT: You don’t get to go back in time, Anderson, and have do-overs in life.
COOPER: I guess a viewer would read into the fact that – that you didn’t say, ‘I would do exactly the same’
SCHMIDT: I believe, had she not been on the ticket, our margin of defeat would’ve been greater than it would’ve been otherwise.