Sarah Palin, Joe Miller Allege Alaska TV Station Conspiring Against Campaign
A last-minute story in Alaska is throwing allegations of media bias into an already contentious Senate race:
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is accusing staffers at CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA of conspiring to fabricate a story about Republican senate candidate Joe Miller.
Sunday on Fox News, Palin said a cell phone recording shows two of the reporters were trying to discredit the Miller campaign.
“It was revealed and we have the tape that proves it, that the CBS reporters, the affiliate in Alaska, conspired to make up stories about Joe Miller,” said Palin on Fox News. “We have the tape, [Host] Chris [Wallace], that proves it and I can’t wait till it busts out all over the nation.”
Here’s an audio recording of the portion of the message that the Miller campaign has made public:
The station in question, which is a CBS affiliate but not owned by CBS, has acknowledged the genuineness of the recording but denied the interpretation:
A press release issued Saturday October 30, 2010, by the Joe Miller campaign claims that KTVA personnel, “openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller.” KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever says, “It’s unfortunate that this recording has happened. It’s unfortunate because it does not accurately reflect the journalistic standards of our newsroom and the garbled context will no doubt leave more questions than answers. The Miller campaign’s analysis of the recording is incorrect in many material ways ranging from personnel involved in the conversation, the interpretation of conversation snippets and the reported transcript of the perceived garbled conversation.”
“While the recording is real, the allegations are untrue,” said Bever. “The recording was the result of a cell phone not being hung up after a call was placed to Randy DeSoto, Joe Miller campaign spokesperson, Thursday afternoon to discuss Joe Miller’s appearance on that evening’s newscast. That phone call was placed near the end of a coverage planning meeting in our newsroom regarding that evening’s Miller rally in downtown Anchorage. The group of KTVA news personnel was reviewing potential “what-if” scenarios, discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news.”
Bever continues, “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. The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do.”
While Bever would not discuss any personnel issues linked with the recording, Bever says “Have we had internal discussions about the level of professionalism we need to bring to our conversations, internally and externally? Of course we have, this is a lesson to learn from.”
It’s hard to tell exactly what was going on in that phone call. It sounds like a bunch of reporters sitting around joking among themselves, to be honest, rather than a revelation of some vast conspiracy. Media Matters, which obviously has it’s own dog in this fight, has called on Palin and Miller to release the full recording, and that would seem to be a fair request given the fact that this story originated on own of Andrew Breitbart’s websites, which have already been known to release selective portions of full recordings.
In either case, it was a dumb move for the reporters not to hang up the phone when they were done, and it just plays into Palin’s “victim of the media” meme, which she’s been playing very skillfully since the end of the 2008 Presidential campaign.