This video of Fox News’s Carl Cameron dishing on McCain insiders’ views of Sarah Palin has gotten a lot of attention today.
It is pretty remarkable that McCain staffers would claim to a reporter that Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent — remarkable if true, for obvious reasons, and remarkable if false because that would show an incredibly intense smear campaign. (It sounded implausible to me at first, but Andrew Sullivan* points out that nobody has denied the claim. Plus if it’s not true, why make it up when there are surely plenty of other true embarrassing tidbits they could have told instead?)
But something else struck me in watching the video. Two-thirds of the way through (starting at 2:05), Cameron switches to reporting the spin from those in the McCain camp who are still defending the Palin pick.** He says (or rather they say) that McCain was leading from the time he picked Palin until Lehman Brothers failed. In other words, the economy, not Palin, lost it for McCain.
Then, before you can say fair and balanced, anchor Shepard Smith smoothly counters:
“You know, I was actually in a meeting last night before the election coverage began. We were going over the charts of when Barack Obama’s numbers actually went up. And the reading of the polls by our decision team was that in fact it didn’t start there but it started four days earlier — the day after the Palin interview with Katie Couric.”
That leaves Cameron speechless for almost three seconds. And his response has nothing to do with Smith’s polling point.
This video comes a day after another striking Shepard Smith performance, in which he presided over Ralph Nader’s final descent into crazy-old-man irrelevancy. Here’s Smith asking Nader if he wanted to retract his comment from earlier in the day that Obama’s “choice, basically, is whether he’s going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations”:
And that video came a week after Smith pushed back against one Mr. Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (aka Joe The Oh, Enough Already) when the living campaign prop kept spouting nonsense about Obama being a danger to Israel. At the end of the segment, Smith said (as quoted in a New York Times editorial praising the anchor):
“I just want to make this 100 percent perfectly clear. Barack Obama has said repeatedly and demonstrated repeatedly that Israel will always be a friend of the United States no matter what happens once he becomes president of the United States. His words. The rest of it, man — it just gets frightening sometimes.”
So here’s my question: What’s gotten into Shepard Smith? Has he always dissented from the Hannity-and-terrorist-fist-jabbing wing of Fox News? Or is this something new — something in the Fox News water fountain, perhaps, that Major Garrett is also drinking? Either way, let’s hope we see more of it.
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* Andrew Sullivan has a great post about the implications of reporters waiting until after the election to mention that McCain’s people, contrary to their public statements of support, thought Palin was horribly unprepared: “the McCain campaign and their media enablers were putting this country and the world at serious risk by perpetuating this farce.”
** My favorite part of the Cameron report is when he describes McCain’s reasoning for picking Palin:
“McCain and his aides concluded that the then-shortlist wasn’t [sic] inadequate to, quote, change the game. In their own vernacular, they had to throw the ball downfield. Translation: hail Mary. That was what Sarah Palin was.”
I love that he has to “translate” one cliche — “throw the ball downfield” — into an even more cliched cliche.
UPDATE: And Shepard Smith does it again: