Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Getting the Facts Straight on Quin Hillyer’s and Politico’s Stories

Quin Hillyer at the American Spectator wrote a piece yesterday that’s getting a lot of attention regarding a phone conversation between Governor Palin and Daily Caller writer Alex Pappas which took place on Friday when Governor Palin was at the Iowa State Fair. Hillyer states as a matter of fact that Governor Palin purposely called over a Politico writer to take notes while she "berated" Pappas for writing a misleading article about comments she made concerning Mitt Romney. There’s only one problem with that: Governor Palin never called any reporter to listen to her conversation.

Today, Robert Stacy McCain spoke with Iowa O4P coordinator Michelle McCormick, who was with Governor Palin at the time at her side. McCormick provides a much different version of these events than those that are being repeated all over the internet by bloggers and columnists. RS McCain writes:

…I have spoken to people familiar with the situation who are aghast at how the Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, Politico and the Spectator‘s Quin Hillyer have misinterpreted the incident. One of the people to whom I spoke was Michelle McCormick of Iowa for Palin, who was with the governor at the time she called Pappas to dispute a headline (which, it turns out, was from Fox Nation, not from the Daily Caller) suggesting that Palin had endorsed Mitt Romney…

What is false about the developing media version of the Palin-Pappas narrative, according to McCormick and others, is three things:

1. Governor Palin did not personally dial up Pappas’s number. She asked around among her aides if anyone knew how to get in touch with Pappas. One member of her advance team, Jason Recher, had Pappas’s number, called him and then handed the phone to the governor.

2. Governor Palin did not summon a Politico reporter to listen in on the call. Palin was in the middle of a gigantic crowd of people at the Iowa State Fair, and her half of the conservation may have been overheard by others. There was no way, amid the press of the throng, that anyone outside that swarm could have been summoned at all, and the idea that Palin would be doing favors for a Politico reporter is ridiculous.

3. Governor Palin wasn’t screaming angrily at Pappas. Again, Palin was in the middle of a crowd, which was quite noisy, and if her voice was loud, it was because she was trying to make herself heard amid the hubub.

I reached out to Michelle McCormick myself to confirm Robert Stacy McCain’s report. She sent me the following:

I was with Gov. Palin in the afternoon while she walked around the fair grounds at the Iowa State Fair. I was also near her when she spoke with Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller. Politico wrote:

while at the State Fair, according to POLITICO’s Kasie Hunt – [Palin] audibly called up a Daily Caller reporter to complain about a headline she felt suggested she was open to supporting Mitt Romney

That is not true. Gov. Palin did not "call up" the DC reporter. A phone was handed to her by an aid, and she took it from him to speak with Pappas. Additionally, this statement by Quin Hillyer is false:

What was even more absurd is that she and her team deliberately played it up by inviting one reporter over just to hear her berate another reporter.

Gov. Palin did not "invite" any reporter over to listen in on her conversation. The phone was handed to her by an aid and she proceeded to speak with Pappas. Frankly, it was impossible for a reporter to be invited anywhere near Gov Palin because the crowd cluster around her was so thick. Unless the Politico reporter was already next to Gov Palin, there is no way she could have made her way through the crowd to Gov. Palin’s side.
Gov. Palin also did not "berate" the other reporter as Hillyer would have you believe. Here is what she said as transcribed by Politico:

So you’re saying that I said that I support Mitt Romney?" she said to the reporter. "And what’s your headline? You need to be clear, otherwise people really lose faith in the state of journalists today and that is, I said ‘ABO’—anybody but Obama. And I would support the candidate who surfaces to take on Barack Obama. But no, your headline leads readers to believe that I’m supporting Mitt Romney at this time in this process, and no that’s not accurate.

Gov. Palin’s tone was not nasty and she was not yelling into the phone. She spoke at a volume that one would speak at if she were outside with a large and noisy crowd nearby. Like at a state fair. 

Gov. Palin was incredibly gracious to the massive crowd that came out to see her. She never broke a sweat, never got flustered and never complained. She genuinely enjoyed meeting all those folks, and after all that she conducted a live interview with Sean Hannity in front an even larger crowd. 

Any person who had doubts about her ability to campaign hard and extensively in Iowa or anywhere would have been disabused of them after Friday.

Robert Stacy McCain also notes:

After the conversation was over, and Palin realized that the misleading headline wasn’t Pappas’s fault, she asked one of her aides to contact Pappas and apologize for the mistake.

As I wrote above, this story from Hillyer is being repeated all over the internet, but Mr. Hillyer’s version of events is inaccurate. I hope all of the people who people who rushed to report this now update and/or correct their stories. It’s bad enough that the leftist media consistently make things up about Governor Palin, they don’t need any help from conservatives.

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