Well, now we know what it takes to get a response to legitimate questions about their candidate out of the McCain/Palin campaign: Appear on CNN.
I did so today, on Rick Sanchez's CNN Newsroom program, where we discussed the Salon piece Max Blumenthal and I co-wrote and its ramifications. Sanchez was particularly focused on Palin's connections to the Alaskan Independence Party, so that was the bulk of our discussion. (I'll update with the transcript when it's available.) [Update: Here is the transcript.]
Now, when we were preparing the Salon piece for publication, I contacted the McCain/Palin campaign first by phone to ask for their reactions to our report's findings. They asked me to send an e-mail, which I did. But I never heard a word back from them.
So today, after CNN picked up the story, they were in fact able to elicit the following response:
CNN is furthering a smear with this report, no different than if your network ran a piece questioning Senator Obama's religion. No serious news organization has tried to make this connection, and it is unfortunate that CNN would be the first.
We are trying to arrange to have one of the Governor's people come on air to respond in the event you do run this piece.
A few points about this:
-- A smear by definition is untrue. However, everything in our story is fully documented. We've even posted the relevant documents here so readers can judge the accuracy of the story for themselves.
-- This is not about Sarah Palin's faith; it's about her conduct as a public official.
-- In fact, CNN is not the first network to pick up on this story. Rachel Maddow at MSNBC in fact featured Blumenthal on her Thursday night broadcast, when the story first broke, to talk about it.
If Team McCain wants to convince anyone this is merely a "smear", they're going to have to demonstrate some falsity or distortion first.
What we've already heard from some Palin defenders is that this report is merely another attempt at "guilt by association."
But "guilt by association," by definition, involves an entirely irrelevant association (which describes the William Ayers "connection" to a T). Palin's associations with the "Patriot" right, however, are entirely relevant, because they reflect directly on her conduct as a public official and her judgment. They also, I should add, reflect on a deeper level the kind of right-wing populism she's been indulging in recent weeks.