CBS’s Early Show was eager to host Levi Johnston when he was trashing the Palin family last year – 5 segments totaling more than 24 minutes of airtime. But since admitting that some of his attacks were untrue, the morning show has barely noticed, making only two brief mentions of Johnston's reversal and apology in a July 6 People Magazine interview.
On Friday, fill-in co-host Erica Hill offered a scant 42 second discussion of Johnston's apology in the show's weekly 'Early Wrap' segment. She actually admitted that it had been "highly under-reported." On Wednesday, amidst 2 minutes and 32 seconds of coverage of Johnston's re-engagement to Bristol Palin, a total of 25 seconds was given to his apology.
During the Wednesday coverage, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "How many times was that young man on this show talking really horrible things about the Palins?" Later, Hill declared that Johnston "said some rather unflattering things," causing Smith to once again describe how "Levi was on this show a bunch, several times in that era, and did interviews with [fellow Early Show co-host] Maggie [Rodriguez]."
Of the five 2009 segments about Johnston, three were exclusive interviews between him and Rodriguez. The first interview aired on April 8, while the second was aired in two parts on October 28 and 29. In addition, the show did September 3 segment on Johnston's anti-Palin Vanity Fair interview and a November 17 story previewing an interview with him on the CBS entertainment news program 'The Insider.'
During each of those broadcasts, Johnston's allegations were hyped as important breaking news. On September 3, Smith declared: "The father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild is talking again. Someone won’t be pleased. We’ll tell you what Levi Johnston is saying." On October 27, Smith announced: "The father of Sarah Palin’s grandson is here with some stunning allegations about the former Alaska Governor." Teasing the November 17 segment, Rodriguez proclaimed: "Still to come, Levi Johnston says he is winning the war of words between Sarah Palin and him. We’ll hear from him when we return." A clip was later played of Johnston: "I just look at her in disgust. It’s almost funny that she’s like 46 years old and she’s battling a 19-year-old and I’m winning and I’m telling the truth. She’s lying and losing."
After airing the second part of her interview with Johnston on October 29, Rodriguez read a response from Sarah Palin that said in part: "CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies." Rodriguez defended herself by claiming "...we raised all those questions about credibility and his motivation for doing this." Now that Johnston has admitted to making false statements, when will CBS admit its mistake in providing him a media platform.