The Corner

Vanity Fair Writer Responds to Palin Piece Critiques

This morning, the writer of the Vanity Fair Palin piece, Michael Joseph Gross, responded to some of the criticisms. Gross defends the story that Palin considered when a Bristol/Levi wedding would be most politically opportune, saying that he had a different source than the former McCain aide who went to Politico’s Ben Smith denying the story. He also defends his use of anonymous sources for the piece:

Forced to rely on anonymous sources for certain information, I made an effort to get to know those sources well, talking with them over periods of weeks or months. If I sensed that sources were motivated by the desire to attack Sarah Palin, I did not use the information they gave me. Those who told the most startling stories about Palin spoke not with glee or satisfaction but with trepidation and sadness.

First off, there is no journalistic criteria that says that if the source shows trepidation and sadness, they’re less likely to be misinformed (or lying) than if they show glee and satisfaction. The catch with anonymous sources has always been the lack of accountability. They face no repercussion for outright lies. Even if Gross’s source — the former Palin senior aide — is telling the truth when she said that Palin discussed the Bristol/Levi wedding in that way, there still are anonymous sources that gave inaccurate information. Gross hasn’t admitted that he was wrong to say Ivy Frye, Kristan Cole, and Meghan Stapleton were on “bad terms” or had “deteriorated” relationships with Palin. He hasn’t responded directly to Shannyn Moore, who says she was misrepresented in the article. And according to Smith, Gross is still wrong about the claim that a group was created just to give money to Palin. Here’s Gross’s “correction”:

A second blog post by Smith on Politico contained a complaint by Karladine Graves, the president of Preserving American Liberty (PAL-PAC), the organization that sponsored the event at which Palin spoke in Independence. I had written that the organization seemed to exist mainly for the purpose of putting on this one event, but Graves maintained that (in Smith’s words) it “continues to put on its regular slate of smaller local events.” Graves’s contention is not true—there is no “regular slate of smaller local events.”…

Smith responds:

On the second point, I was arguing with his original description of the group: “Palin’s tours around the country are supported by a network of organizations that are not always what they claim to be. The Winning America Back conference was organized by a Missouri political-action committee called Preserving American Liberty (PAL-PAC)…. PAL-PAC seems to have been created for a single purpose: to pay Sarah Palin to give a speech.”

The group, according to its Facebook page, recently hosted another gathering, with anti-illegal immigration lawyer Kris Kobach and Sherrif Joe Arpaio. It sponsored a float in a parade in Parkville. Its members rallied for a conservative candidate.  The event at which Palin spoke was a large gathering with other speakers from the conservative circuit like J.D. Watts and Fred Thompson. Its website has grown a bit out of date, its founder told me, because the woman maintaining it has been busy with other things. This isn’t necessarily terribly high-impact, but I don’t understand why it should be seen as shady, mysterious, or as a front for Palin.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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