The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Pappas-Palin Drama

Posted on | August 16, 2011 | 49 Comments

Last night I wrote a post at The American Spectator entitled, “Dear Governor Palin: Please Call Me,” an attempt to clear up a misunderstanding of an incident that transpired Friday while Sarah Palin was at the Iowa State Fair.

While the governor has not yet called, I have spoken to people familar 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.

Now, let’s get one thing clear up front: McCormick is among many Palin supporters who believe that she is going to announce a 2012 presidential campaign within a matter of weeks. I have gone on record as rejecting that belief as a delusion. However, there are enough people telling me not to rule out the possibility — and some of those are swearing up and down they definitely know she will run — that I’m beginning to question whether I’ve completely misread the tea leaves. So . . .

A headline appeared online suggesting that Palin had endorsed Romney, and Palin decided to personally intervene to correct the record. That much of the Palin-Pappas tale is true, and I think it may be highly suggestive that she is indeed seriously considering an entry into the 2012 field. 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 conversation 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.

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. Pappas says that the aide did not actually apologize, but I have no idea what was said in their conversation, so I can’t speak to that. But Palin’s supporters are furious at Pappas for “whining” (note the quotation marks) about the incident, and incensed by Hillyer’s characterization of Palin’s behavior as that of a “difficult diva.”

Now the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin has jumped on the dogpile, accepting Hillyer’s characterization of the incident as gospel, and what is being lost amid all this unnecessary drama is the actual political news value: Sarah Palin is serious enough about a 2012 presidential bid that she evidently considered it an urgent matter to knock down any suggestion that she had endorsed another candidate.

UPDATE: Let me direct a word or two toward some of the people who are saying that it would be crazy for Palin to get into the 2012 field at this point, and impossible for her to win, if she did.

First, I’m inclined to agree, which was why I was willing to declare last night that anyone who still believes Palin will run is suffering from a True Believer delusion.

Second . . . eh, not so fast, buddy.

Dan Riehl is about the last person on earth I’d accuse of being a True Believer, and yet his own reading of tea leaves leads him to think that Palin is absolutely serious when she says she’s still considering a 2012 run. Knowing Dan like I know Dan, I consider that highly significant.

Furthermore, many people who are disparaging Palin’s chances are supporters of one or another of the current GOP candidates, and some of them are conspicuously aboard the Rick Perry bandwagon. But let me point you to a Tweet that Tony Lee of Human Events sent yesterday in which he suggests we may now learn how much of Perry’s victory over Kay Bailey Hutchison in last year’s GOP primary was due to Palin endorsing Perry. And then there’s some guy predicting that Perry’s campaign will “self-destruct” within a month.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been hearing from people who say that Perry is a lot weaker candidate than Perry’s supporters imagine. We will wait and see about that. There have also been people telling me that they expect the Bachmann campaign to “implode,” and we’ll wait and see about that, too.

But if Bachmann does implode, and/or the Perry machine proves to be less than the unstoppable conservative juggernaut it has been hyped up to be, then the GOP field could develop a vacuum of the kind that nature proverbially abhors. So it may be that Palin is preparing a contingency plan for a campaign just in case such a scenario develops.

If the mood strikes her and the opportunity seems right, she could announce her candidacy on short notice and then quickly mobilize such a contingency organization. The money from tens of thousands of small donors would come flooding in and at that point I, for one, would be unwilling to wager $20 against her chances of being the Republican nominee when all is said and done at Tampa next summer.

Should Sarah shock the world by running in 2012 and confound conventional wisdom by winning the nomination, there are many who contend that she could not possibly beat Obama in the general election. Yet those would be the same people who now say she won’t run at all, so why should we believe their forecasts then, after she will have already twice proven them wrong, first by deciding to run so late, and then by winning the nomination against their advice?

UPDATE II: Stacy Drake at Conservatives for Palin also communicated with Michelle McCormick to set the record straight. I am loath to blame my friend Quin Hillyer for this kerfuffle — he’s a Southern hothead like me, and perhaps too prone to quick judgments — while Alex Pappas is, after all, a recent University of Alabama graduate whose youth might excuse his unfortunate part in the drama. What I don’t understand is why other reporters aren’t seeing this as I do, namely as a tiny yet tangible clue that Palin is seriously considering a 2012 run.


49 Responses to “The Pappas-Palin Drama”

  1. adolph.stephens
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

    I think she’ll run, and I’m fired up and ready to be boots on the ground when she does.  I do not have any knowledge that she will, it’s just a gut feel, and admittedly hopeful thinking.  Hopeful because, in my view she clearly articulates the Anti-Obama message better than anyone else does, and/or seems willing to do.

    That said, it seems that anything Palin oriented necessarily has to be tinged with a dash of controversy.  In my opinion, that’s because she is an opportunity.  An opportunity to raise ones own profile by taking a pro/con stance on a topic sure to drive a lot of traffic.  Regardless where one comes down, the hits go up.

  2. Zilla of the Resistance
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

    I don’t trust the Daily Caller, that is the same entity that blew up a “big story” about Michelle Bachmann’s migraines and has also done some other hit pieces on prominent Conservatives. I certainly don’t trust Politico.  Thanks for clearing away all the jibber jabber. I hope Sarah Palin DOES call you, it would be a wise decision on her part to talk with The Last Real American Reporter. 

  3. abigail florence
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

    If another viable candidate with the right values and the guts to back them would emerge, I think Sarah might endorse them, but I’m sure Romney does not match that description.

  4. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

    I’m gonna go on the record and say that Palin is intentionally trying to sabotage her employment with fox news as a way out of her contract and thus clearing a major hurdle towards running for president.  

    Earlier in her tour, she criticize a story from FNC stating that her bus tour had ended.  Now she’s slamming a headline provided by FOX on the Pappas.

    Every is not as it seems in Palinland.

    As for Quin, as renowned and respected as he is as an editor and a commentator, he’s also human, and thus ego driven.  He would’ve never given up this opportunity to inject himself into a Palin narrative (check out his follow up

    He couldn’t resist making himself part of the story. 

    No hard feelings, though.

  5. GAHCindy
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    When she finally does call you, will you please let her know that I am very angry with her, because my husband and I only have one fight: whether she is going to run or not. I say yes, he says no. There is no peace at our dinner table until she announces. She has to run, or my reputation in this house as the political know-it-all is busted. Run, Sarah, run!

  6. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    Although I think she will run…..why would she endorse anyone, it is too early in the game.

  7. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    Oh please. Palin can submit a resignation letter to Roger anytime she wants. 

    In fact, she could probably file for a Leave of Absence and it would probably be acceptable to both sides, providing the Little Murdoch doesn’t completely purge FOX News Channel of Conservatives and turn it into MSNBC, Part Deux, and hire Olbermann to do Hannity’s Show.

  8. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

    The Daily Caller is staffed by Lickspittle Romneybot Running Dogs who, in a more just world, would have gotten caught up in the Cultural Revolution with cones on their heads.

    (Just kidding. Everyone actually likes Jedediah Bila…).

  9. PhilipJames
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

    Look, its absolutely terrible what has been done to little Alex Pappas…  a young man, trying to make his way in the cruel world as a “real” reporter and being attacked and destroyed by Sarah Palin. I was wondering how I could contribute money to a fund to pay for all the psychoanalysis he will have to undergo for the next few years and for his stay in the institue while he recovers.

    I find it very interesting that Pappas never posted anything about this but a dolt like Hillyer, a Mittens guy at another blog, and Jennifer Rubin, normally a strong Sarah Palin supporter (yah, right) at another site are now on the save Pappas from total personal destruction bandwagon. Can we assume that there is more to this than meets the eye….  that these people have some agenda to advance…. nah, can’t be.
    I guess Pappas is so devasted he just can not defend himself.

    Just to be clear… here are those dasdardly words that Palin said to Pappas that have s0 terribly damaged his psyche – “”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.”

    I know all of you are just horrified by what Sarah Palin said and would have immediately dropped to your knees and had a nervous breakdown.

    Can I stop laughing? I got to The Daily Caller frequently just to keep up and I know for a fact that many times they will post a story with a headline and photo, you make a comment on that story and if you go back to it a couple hours later, you can find the story is still there, but in a different form (edited a bit) with a new headline and posted on another part of the site…  with your comment not appearing anymore. This has happened to me many times.

    In addition, ever since Tucker “Bowtime” Carlson got his panties in a twist after being smacked down by Sarah Palin for his milfistan comment, The Daily Caller has gone out of its way to post up many liberal attack and smear stories about the Palins and have even authored a number of them as well. So, whether they portray themselves as a conservative site or not, they sure are not a pro-Palin web site.

    At the end of the day, WTF is the fuss all about anyway, except to try to find anything, just anything that can be used to attack Sarah Palin because the pickings are slim in that department. (i.e. Andrew Sullivan has to dig deep to attack her for her toenails).

  10. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

    I’ll certainly let the governor know that her long delay is disturbing your domestic tranquility, Cindy.

  11. Adjoran
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

    I find it very odd that we are outraged when we find out Obama’s minions have complained about news coverage to reporters, editors and executives, but it’s just fine when one of our own does it.

    Palin should have bothered to get the facts straight, at the very least, before rushing to complain to Pappas, who had nothing at all to do with the offending headline at another site.  No matter the specific sequence surrounding the call, the fact that it was made in the middle of a crowd at the fair as soon as news of the headline hit shows questionable judgment.

    The diehard psycho-stalker Palin fans will need to learn that just because they believe Palin can do no wrong doesn’t mean the general public will feel the same way.

  12. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

    Hmmm. Quin says he’s “amused,” but others might see him as . . . defensive?

    By God, wouldn’t it set his hair on fire if the Governor gave me an exclusive now?

  13. Dan C
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

    Classic LIES from Quinn Idiot over at Spectator and Daily Caller who has a history of lying about Palin. If anyone wonders why our movement gets its ass kicked by the left, this is why. These are so called “conservative” media outlets acting like this! 

  14. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

    From what I remember, the closest you ever got was when you flew up to Alaska and interviewed….Todd?

  15. ltw
    August 16th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

    Spectator’s Mr. Hillyer made much ado about a headline that he couldn’t provide  “(The headline is no longer available at
    Fox Nation, so I can’t say exactly what the wording was.)” as Mr. Hillyer put it.

    Here is how the Alex Pappas article was tweeted out by the Daily Caller and retweeted by Alex Pappas.

    Including the Palin quote in the tweet (Daily Caller) implies to me that was the scoop the reporter (since he retweeted it) was going after in the article.!/DailyCaller/status/102087074320097280

    Sarah Palin tells TheDC’s @alexpappasdc in Iowa: “Could I support somebody like Mitt Romney? Yeah!”

    12 Aug

    via web

    I agree with your statement “lost amid all this unnecessary drama is the actual political news value”.

  16. GAHCindy
    August 16th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    It is very important. ;0)

  17. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

    Adjoran: “The diehard psycho-stalker Palin fans will need to learn that just because they believe Palin can do no wrong doesn’t mean the general public will feel the same way.”     

    Heh! I love how so many love to take shots at Palin supporters, but never mention their candidate. Adjoran, who is your candidate?

    Also, I wish the  conservative ‘journalist’ and bloggers would spend more time actually vetting the announced GOP candidates instead of whining about Palin’s every move.

    As much as some would love to put Perry, like Cain and Bachmann before him, in a protective bubble it’s not going to work.

    The GOP can run the ‘Bubble Boy’ against Obama if they want, but Obama and his sychophants in the media will easily pop that bubble during the general election.

  18. TR
    August 16th, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    Pappas did get his big “sistertoldjah” to write a whinny patronizing post from “phineas” about his sensitive feelings and how the poor young Pappas was only in Jr. High when he/she Phineas knew him. Paging Shakespeare? “Alas Poor Yorick, I knew him…”  as the drama goes on.

  19. Charles
    August 16th, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    Sarah Palin is playing an interesting game called undermine Mitt Romney. That’s why she was angry at the headline that she was endorsing Mitt Rimney. Not because she is going to run.

    Now, if all other the players challenging Romney on the field fail, …

  20. ThePaganTemple
    August 16th, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

    Damn good point. There’s nothing they can throw at Sarah that she won’t be prepared for, and if she’s the nominee I almost guarantee she’ll dish it right back to them, in spades. All the others? I’m not so sure. Some I know they can’t deal with the heat. Romney will be one of these types that will try to stay above the fray and act “presidential” in other words, like an elitist ass.

  21. Stacy McCain Seems Strangely Interested in Facts - The NeoSexist
    August 16th, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

    […] the Politico, Daily Caller, AmSpec version of the Palin-Pappas tale?  Why you always gotta be reportin?  Why can’t you just play along with the narrative?  Why would you want to just […]

  22. Barbaric Thoughts » Look Before You Maul – Update
    August 16th, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

    […] McCain did a little research on the situation. This is what he found: I have spoken to people familar with the situation who are aghast at how the Daily Caller’s Alex […]

  23. postaldog
    August 16th, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

    Also being missed here is the fact that Hillyer is hardly impartial, he’s an avowed Romney fan, having either written a biography or co-written Mitten’s autobiography.  To think that he would gin up a story to blemish Palin, who would crush Romney in the primaries, is certainly possible.

  24. rosalie
    August 16th, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I’ve had it with the ” elitist ass”.     I want a fighter like Palin.    

  25. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    PT of course she will run, consider the alternate.

    She will be from the Tea party as a leper, will have no voice for consideration. The Gov is in it and doing an admirable job of watching the demolition debry call the GOP primary.

    Perry will peak out before the MFM even gets atrted on his analization

  26. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    Anyone else notice how quickly Rubin has gone over to the “dark side”.  The Force was truly weak in that one.  Two weeks ago, it was Tea Partiers are terrorists.  Now she’s baggin’/raggin’ on Palin.

  27. Anonymous
    August 16th, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

    Treacher’s not bad either. Just sayin’.

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  30. Bob Montgomery
    August 17th, 2011 @ 1:37 am

    Whether Palin is considering or not, the attribution of an endorsement is a very, very, very serious matter.  Not only the fate of the candidates, but the future ofthe country is at stake.  How about first taking Fox Nation to he woodshd, then asking Papps and Hillyer if they understand how much is at stake.  It’s more thean the feelings of a political writer at the Caller.

  31. Bob Montgomery
    August 17th, 2011 @ 1:37 am

    Whether Palin is considering or not, the attribution of an endorsement is a very, very, very serious matter.  Not only the fate of the candidates, but the future ofthe country is at stake.  How about first taking Fox Nation to he woodshd, then asking Papps and Hillyer if they understand how much is at stake.  It’s more thean the feelings of a political writer at the Caller.

  32. jeffp
    August 17th, 2011 @ 1:51 am

    Isn’t it equally plausible that Palin wants it crystal clear that she’s withholding her endorsement until she’s ready to award it to someone? (My guess would be Perry, but she may be waiting along with the rest of us to see if he’s all that and a bag o’chips.) Wouldn’t that supply as strong a motivation for the call as preserving her own viability as a candidate?

  33. Waldomer
    August 17th, 2011 @ 2:15 am

    With this craven public promise to make any concession your source desires, you have effectively surrendered your reporter’s card. It’s sad to see someone with no shame. 

  34. Cube
    August 17th, 2011 @ 2:18 am

    In my amateur opinion, Sarah Palin will run for President and if so, I hope the voters have enough sense to elect her.  I have held that opinion since her speech at Madison, WI.  There were several tantalizing hints prior to that speech but although I hoped she’d run, it was always possible to find a way to interpret previous statements either way.  No longer.  There have been several statements since Madison that individually could be interpreted either way, but taken together they reinforce the conclusion I stated at the beginning of this post.  Obviously I have no inside knowledge so take this opinion for what it’s worth.  But it would be freakin’ awesome if she runs, if only to watch lefty heads exploding.  It’ll be even more fun to watch them when she wins.

  35. ThePaganTemple
    August 17th, 2011 @ 2:27 am

    So do I, Rosalie.

  36. ltw
    August 17th, 2011 @ 4:14 am

    There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and I’d like the information outlets to be really careful on how they report or report/opine on each candidate or politician’s endorsements.  I think Palin was right to get on top of the situation, and speak with the reporter rather than the editor of the Daily Caller.

    “Up until now, I’ve held that view that Christie needs to finish what he started in my home state as a lot of heavy lifting still needs to be done. But after listening to T. Carlson in New Orleans I’m beginning to warm to the idea that the country can’t wait until 2016 to get started on restoring its financial standing. It’s also worth noting that there could be more openings on the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t know too much about Gov. Rick Perry of Texas who sounds like he’s running. I do know that if he doesn’t catch on there is an opening for someone else.”

  37. ThePaganTemple
    August 17th, 2011 @ 4:48 am

    I just got through watching Santorum on Hannity. He’s complaining about Perry’s civil tone. I can think of a couple of things about Perry that make me wary of him, but his tone isn’t one of them. Santorum kind of wrecked what little chance he might have had there. Somebody needs to send all these people a memo-“Piss on the tone”. That’s why I think if Sarah was to get in people would acclimate themselves to her real quick. Nobody is as down to earth and as REAL as she is. She does it better than Perry, better than Bachmann, really better than anybody I can think of.

  38. Deetz
    August 17th, 2011 @ 7:23 am

    I think it all stemmed from the original Daily Caller tweet that was left wanting for disambiguation.

    It made an apparent political endorsement during a historically important political event.

    GOP’rs were making choices based on all the info at hand. 

    Info as such, could sway opinions & diminish the willingness of many to write Palin in.Tweets have been made into headlines before. Just sayin.tD

  39. Bob Belvedere
    August 17th, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    A couple of points…

    -Based on ltw’s comment above, I think it obvious that Fox Nation was merely picking-up on the Tweet from TheDC.  Mr. Pappas probably had nothing to do with that ? if you have a problem with a headline [and that’s what this was, in a sense] then talk to to the Editor. [nice work, ltw]

    -Quin Hillyer is a good and decent man, someone who possesses that fighting Wolverine Spirit and much wisdom.  I believe he overreacted in this matter, but that just shows that he’s Human, not that he’s of low and base character like…of, I don’t know…oh yeah: Tucker Carlson.

  40. Anonymous
    August 17th, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    Stacy: someone wrote a “John Smith” post that got posted to C4P last night that appears to explain what Palin is doing.

    It is a very interesting read that explains Palin’s approach to Rick Perry. As is is anonymously sourced, I suspect it has the imprimatur of the Campaign.

  41. Bob Belvedere
    August 17th, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

    Link, please.

  42. JD777
    August 17th, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

    Does Sarah Palin have a secret Nixon strategy?

    Accidental Good Fortune? Or Strategic Genius By The Woman Tony Knowles Called ‘Alley Cat Smart

  43. ltw
    August 17th, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

    Found the original headline at fox nation, I believe. Linked at
    buzzbox from mediamatters, no less.…..Id=4723837

    Headline: Palin: ‘Could I support somebody like Mitt Romney?

    And the daily caller tweet that Pappas retweeted!/DailyCaller/status/102087074320097280

    Sarah Palin tells TheDC’s @alexpappasdc in Iowa: “Could I
    support somebody like Mitt Romney? Yeah!”
    12 Aug via web

    Retweeted by AlexPappasDC and 10 others

  44. JD777
    August 17th, 2011 @ 3:11 pm


  45. ltw
    August 17th, 2011 @ 3:14 pm…..romney.png

    Link at buzzbox doesn’t seem to work, try this link.

  46. ltw
    August 17th, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
  47. Bob Belvedere
    August 17th, 2011 @ 3:19 pm


  48. Anonymous
    August 17th, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    Calling the Fed Chairman treasonous was dumb. It makes it difficult to bash the Social Democrats for insinuating that conservatives are deliberately harming the country for political gains (and by implication treasonous) if we do the same. Calling for civility polls well nowadays. Perry would do well to be a tad more circumspect.

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