November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin Newsweek Cover Controversy

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Governor Sarah Palin is making waves this week and that's probably why she landed on the cover of Newsweek magazine, but now that magazine cover itself is stirring up controversy. Some are calling it sexist for the way that it depicts Palin. And take a look at the governor's reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Have you seen the cover of Newsweek? It's a picture of you in shorts from a photograph that was taken for a Runner's World magazine. So how do you feel about they're showing you like that on the cover?

SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that it's so cheesy. Had I known then that a picture of me in shorts would end up on the cover of Newsweek I would not have allowed Runner's World to profile me.

I think that that — for me, personally, it's a wee bit degrading. Newsweek should be more — more policy oriented, more substance oriented than showing some gal in shorts on the cover.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Not only that, but Runner's World shot the image featured by Newsweek and used it for a specific purpose to feature well-known runners and promote health and fitness among its readers. Now the magazine is now going out of its way to make clear that it did not provide Newsweek with this image.

And in an editorial note, Runner's World writes, quote, "Runner's World did not provide Newsweek with the image. Instead, it was provided to Newsweek by the photographer's stock agency without Runner's World knowledge or permission."

So I wonder if it's standard practice for Newsweek to swipe images that have appeared on other magazines or if they only do that when they think it will make Governor Palin look bad.

Joining me with reaction to all of this is former White House press secretary Dana Perino and from the Fox Business Network Stuart Varney.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Governor Palin is actually now — and I'll ask her about this tomorrow night when she's on the program. She said the out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh so expected by now. Do you think it's sexist?

DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's worse than sexist. I think it is demeaning and degrading and Newsweek knew exactly what it was doing. They made sexuality a part of her performance. And this is something that if it had happened to someone on the left, the feminist organizations would be screaming about.

And the other thing is that the editor of Newsweek said that they chose a cover that was most interesting. One that was available to them to illustrate the theme of the cover, and that they apply the same test of photographs of any public figure.

Oh really?

HANNITY: Yes.

PERINO: OK, so how would they have depicted John Edwards? I'd love to see that photograph.

HANNITY: Yes, where is it? That's such a great point.

STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: I'll go a little further. I think it was deliberately demeaning. Explicit and deliberately demeaning. The left can't tolerate a woman like Sarah Palin. She's the mother of five. She's the willing and loving mother of a down syndrome child.

She did not go to an elite college. She handles a gun. She shoots things. She's from Alaska. She goes at issues head on. They can't tolerate this kind of woman. So they demean her and her agenda.

HANNITY: Have they been effective to some extent in besmirching her name and her character? I mean, because I think it's she's paid a price. I mean I've been around her a lot. I've interviewed her a lot. We'll have her for the full hour tomorrow night. But I think she has paid an unfair price for these unfair attacks. Do you think?

VARNEY: Yes, I do. I think the sheer volume of these attacks and the nasty negative nature of these attacks. The sheer volume has had an effect. There's an awful lot of people, if you say can Sarah Palin run and win? And they'll say, I don't know. Look at the publicity she gets. I just don't know whether she can do it or not.

That's the price she's paying.

PERINO: There is a special burden for women in politics. And we saw that even for Hillary Clinton. And especially if you're an attractive woman and a conservative woman, then that burden is even greater. But the great thing for Sarah Palin is she's having a wonderful book tour, she's done some great interviews. She'll have one with you for an hour tomorrow night. She's going to tour the country.

What's interesting to me is that Newsweek can't find a photograph that could work? They had to steal one from Runner's World magazine. This is a woman who could at the drop of a hat get 10,000 women — men and women to come and hear her speak.

HANNITY: But, Stuart.

VARNEY: She becomes an issues machine. That's what I would like to see.

HANNITY: I'm going to tell you right now and I'll preview this with the audience. We're going to spend a lot of time on issues tomorrow.

PERINO: Right.

HANNITY: And actually I — look, I saw a couple of the interviews. And I was confident that the people that were doing the interviewing did not read the book. I read the book cover to cover. And there's so much about her that I learned that I had not known before. But would this happen to a liberal woman? Is there any instance we can find?

PERINO: No. Can I read you one other point?

VARNEY: Never.

HANNITY: Never.

PERINO: The article that goes along with Newsweek's story written by Evan Thomas says that, "Obama knows the long odds against a right-wing populist winning the presidency, no matter how good she looks in a skirt or running clothes, brandishing a gun."

HANNITY: Wow.

PERINO: Can you imagine them saying that about any other woman? And I think that what we are witnessing is a continuing decline of the mainstream media. And Newsweek did not help itself with this. And let's be honest, we know why they did this. Because they wanted to create a controversy. They wanted to sell more magazines. And they wanted to demean Sarah Palin.

HANNITY: They also — it's ironic because they're using Sarah Palin.

PERINO: Sure.

HANNITY: They know if she's on the cover they're going to sell more magazines.

PERINO: It's a silly, ridiculous magazine at this point.

HANNITY: Well, we're all socialist now, Dana. Come on, remember the cover.

PERINO: It's silly.

VARNEY: But has all this media coverage created an electricity around her? You've been close to Sarah Palin. There is a buzz around her.

HANNITY: I have been to many political events. But I have never seen the reaction to any one candidate — and maybe Obama is right there on the Democratic side — to any Republican or conservative than the reaction to Governor Palin.

VARNEY: She should be.

PERINO: I was outside the beltway and outside of Manhattan this week, in Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. And the words I heard most often used to describe her were I can trust her and I can relate to her. That doesn't mean that everybody thinks that she could be president of the United States, or that she should run for the presidency. But that as a governor she had accomplished a lot and that they identify with her.

HANNITY: I think Dana and Stuart would be a really good ticket.

PERINO: For what?

VARNEY: I wasn't born in the United States of America.

(LAUGHTER)

PERINO: A ticket to the prom maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: I'm flattered.

HANNITY: Is that right? You just made Stuart's year.

VARNEY: She surely did.

HANNITY: Interesting, so what's the net result of this? Is there going to be a backlash?

VARNEY: It could be. It could well be. Yes.

PERINO: Against what? Against Newsweek?

HANNITY: You know, a backlash.

PERINO: Sure.

HANNITY: Frankly, a backlash against all the Palin haters because there really is a visceral hatred. And it's not based on substance interestingly enough.

VARNEY: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

PERINO: What are they afraid of?

HANNITY: That's it. Are they afraid of her?

VARNEY: Yes. When you start to hear her talk about issues, when she goes after Obama on the economy — boy, there's some meat to go at there, is there not? When she starts doing that, and you listen to what she's actually saying about the issues, that's when you get the backlash.

HANNITY: All right. I'm going to give you a preview of everybody for tomorrow night. I am going to ask her questions and let — sort of like Governor Palin in her own words, which nobody's interviewed her and really allowed her the opportunity to talk about significant issues. And I think people can then judge for themselves.

VARNEY: Let's see who she really is and what she's really talking about, what she really thinks.

PERINO: I've always wanted to respect Newsweek.

HANNITY: Good luck.

PERINO: I would love to see a lot more news coverage.

HANNITY: I left them behind a long time ago.

PERINO: But this is just a sad — very sad. And if this wasn't so sad I'd be embarrassed for them.

HANNITY: The media is dead. I've said it last year. Journalism is dead in this country.

VARNEY: Yes.

HANNITY: Guys, good to see you.

VARNEY: Yes.

HANNITY: Thank you for being here.

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