Wednesday’s Early Show picked up where The Tyra Banks Show left off in interviewing Levi Johnston, the ex-fiancé of Bristol Palin, as well as his sister and mother, and continued the media’s coverage of the “family feud” between the Palins and the Johnstons. Anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Levi’s sister Mercede if the Palin family was “snobby.” She also asked the young man if the Palin family was “lying” about the circumstances of his relationship with Bristol and the subsequent breakup.
Rodriguez asked Levi Johnston some obligatory sappy questions, such as what his son Tripp meant to him, and if his “heart was broken” over the way things turned out. She devoted nearly the entire interview to trying to get the Johnstons’ side of the story, and only brought up the Palin family’s side in one question to Levi: “Sarah Palin, through a spokesperson, has denied a lot of the things that you’re saying. So either you’re lying or Sarah Palin is lying. Which is it?” After trying to get the young father to be more specific in his less than direct answer to the question, the anchor asked again, “So they’re lying?” He answered, “Yeah.”
Later, as she interviewed Mercede Johnston and her mother Sherry, Rodriguez asked the sister, “Did you ever get that impression, that they were snobby in that way?” When she answered affirmatively, she followed up by asking, “How so?” Despite asking about her son’s reaction to the “feud” and how he was responding to be a father, Rodriguez did not bring up the topic of the recent drug charges against Mrs. Johnston during the segment.
The anchor concluded the segment with some details about Levi Johnston and his family’s plans for the future: “Levi says that he is working odd jobs to try to help provide for his son until he can get a career going. He says that he will either be an electrician, like everyone else in his family, or maybe all this publicity will lead to a modeling or acting gig, which he is open to. The family says they really hope this custody fight doesn’t end up in court, because they fear any judge in Alaska will side with the governor and her family.”
The full transcript of the interview, which aired at the bottom half of the 7 am Eastern hour of Wednesday’s Early Show:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is caught in a family feud with the father of her grandson, 18-year-old Levi Johnston, whom we met during the presidential campaign -- that he says killed his relationship with Bristol Palin. He, along with his mother and sister, sat down with me last night for an interview to clear up the ‘lies’ they say the Palins have been telling about them.
LEVI JOHNSTON: And we’re not cashing in on their name, you know. I’m just trying to get my side of the story out there and letting people know who I am.
RODRIGUEZ: What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
JOHNSTON: Probably that my family’s white trash.
RODRIGUEZ (voice-over): Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin have a 3-month-old baby boy, Tripp.
RODRIGUEZ (on-camera): What does Tripp mean to you?
JOHNSTON: Tripp’s everything to me. He’s my little -- he’s my little boy. I don’t know what I would do without him. When I hold him, it’s -- it’s an amazing feeling. I just shake.
RODRIGUEZ: Was it a mistake?
JOHNSTON: Not at all -- no. I wouldn’t call any baby a mistake. I mean, I love him more than anything. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
RODRIGUEZ (voice-over): But now Levi and Bristol have split, and he says he isn’t allowed to have private time with Baby Tripp, even though he once lived in Sarah Palin’s house. Palin’s camp says he never lived there.
RODRIGUEZ (on-camera): Sarah Palin, through a spokesperson, has denied a lot of the things that you’re saying. So either you’re lying or Sarah Palin is lying. Which is it?
JOHNSTON: They said I didn’t live there. I stayed there. I was like, okay, well, whatever you want to call it. I had my stuff there. So if you want to call it ‘staying there,’ that’s fine, but --
RODRIGUEZ: You had all your things there?
RODRIGUEZ: Toothbrush, pajamas?
JOHNSTON: Yeah. It was all --
RODRIGUEZ: Stayed there every night?
JOHNSTON: For a while, yeah. So --
RODRIGUEZ: So they’re lying?
MERCEDE JOHNSTON, LEVI JOHNSTON’S SISTER: He was living there. I didn’t see him for two months. He lived there. They can’t say, oh, no, he just stayed. That’s an absolute lie.
RODRIGUEZ (to Levi Johnston): What was Sarah Palin like when times were good with you?
L. JOHNSTON: She was great. I mean, she treated me like a Mom. I think she’d do anything for me at the time, and now, I don’t know.
RODRIGUEZ: So times were good and she gets the call to be the vice presidential nominee. At that point, do you think things changed?
L. JOHNSTON: I think it was all when we -- when she lost, is when it started happening. When she got back, I think that’s when it went downhill. I can go over there whenever I want and see my baby, but nine times out of ten, I’m not allowed to take him. It’s not as comfortable -- they don’t think of me the same way anymore.
RODRIGUEZ: Do you ever feel like they think you’re not good enough for her?
L. JOHNSTON: Yeah, probably.
RODRIGUEZ (to Mercede Johnston): Did you ever get that impression, that they were snobby in that way?
M. JOHNSTON: Snobby -- yeah.
RODRIGUEZ: How so?
M. JOHNSTON: I mean, look what they’re doing. They’re lying, trying to save their -- theirselves [sic]. And they’re the one that asked for it. They brought him to the campaign. They should have known what was coming. They can’t, you know, turn around and try to take it back now.
RODRIGUEZ (to Sherry Johnston): How does it feel to see your son go through this?
SHERRY JOHNSTON, LEVI JOHNSTON’S MOTHER: It’s -- it’s very devastating.
RODRIGUEZ (to Levi Johnston): Let’s go back to -- you’re happy, you’re living as part of their family, she finds out she’s pregnant. What’s your reaction?
L. JOHNSTON: I was -- I was extremely happy. We just -- I just got up and we hugged, and I was really scared, too. And then we went upstairs -- I was stoked, told my mom.
RODRIGUEZ: And your mom’s reaction?
L. JOHNSTON: She was crying. Yeah, she was -- she was happy. She’s always talked about that day.
RODRIGUEZ: What was Sarah Palin’s reaction?
L. JOHNSTON: I don’t know -- she wasn’t excited as my parent were. They weren’t mad, I don’t think -- didn’t give me that impression. But, I mean, they weren’t -- definitely weren’t excited at the same time.
S. JOHNSTON: I never expected the natural father instinct to come out of him from the hunting and fishing and the rough hockey, and then to hold that little baby with no fear whatsoever. And to change a diaper and not be afraid, and --
RODRIGUEZ (to Sherry Johnston): Your little boy was a man, all of a sudden.
S. JOHNSTON: He was -- he was ready for -- I mean, I was shocked. I really was.
RODRIGUEZ (to Levi Johnston): What is he like as a baby?
L. JOHNSTON: He’s starting to giggle and do -- you know, rolling over, that kind of thing. He’s getting excited. I can’t wait for him to start talking.
RODRIGUEZ Do you think that you would still be together with Bristol if -- if Sarah Palin hadn’t been the running mate?
L. JOHNSTON: I think so. I think the media and all the drama that comes with her running for that made a big impact on -- on us.
RODRIGUEZ: Do you think it’s heartbreaking the way that it all turned out? Did you get your heart broken?
L. JOHNSTON: Yeah. I did. But I got an amazing little boy out of it.
RODRIGUEZ: Levi says that he is working odd jobs to try to help provide for his son until he can get a career going. He says that he will either be an electrician, like everyone else in his family, or maybe all this publicity will lead to a modeling or acting gig, which he is open to. The family says they really hope this custody fight doesn’t end up in court, because they fear any judge in Alaska will side with the governor and her family. We will keep you posted.