Us Weekly Defends Controversial Cover

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: Well, Us Weekly, the magazine, is under some serious fire today for its new cover. The headline grabber "Babies, Lies and Scandal" is what's causing all the stir. The story, not only focusing on Sarah Palin, but also on the governor's 17-year-old pregnant daughter. It got a lot of attention. So did it cross a line?

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Here with us now, Bradley Jacobs, the senior editor for Us Weekly. Hi, Bradley.


KELLY: All right. So the problem that a lot of folks have about this and I have to tell you, we have gotten tons of E-mail over this, is that the headline, in and of itself — we'll start with this. It sounds like an attack "Babies, Lies and Scandal." What are the lies?

JACOBS: Actually, if you read the story, you will see it's actually very measured. It's a very even-keeled story.

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KELLY: I've read the story. What are the lies?

JACOBS: Actually, the lies that we point out are some of the liberal bloggers who were speculating that the daughter was actually - had given birth, that there was a cover-up there. We're one of the few magazines that actually did call to task those liberal bloggers for the news stories over the weekend.

KELLY: Bradley, do you think the cover, in any way, suggests to viewers looking at your magazine while standing there in the grocery store that the lies are lies about Sarah Palin by her attackers?

JACOBS: I don't think we can talk about all that here. We've gotten a lot of press today, but a lot of people haven't read this story. You may disagree that is fairly —

KELLY: I have read the story.

JACOBS: It is a very balanced story. We interview strategists on both sides. We interview Sarah Palin's deputy —

KELLY: Bradley, Bradley —


KELLY: OK. You say — first of all, you point out her husband Todd's DUI arrest. Do you point out that that DUI arrest came 22 years ago, in 1986?

JACOBS: Of course. The DUI arrest ..

KELLY: No, you don't.

JACOBS: ... read everywhere.

KELLY: No, you don't. You don't, Bradley. That's not in there. Do you mention an official — you mentioned so-called "trooper-gate" talking about — and I'm quoting from your article, an official who refused - She's under investigation for dismissing an official who refused to fire her sister's state trooper ex-husband. Do you point out that the allegations that that trooper she allegedly wanted fired tasered his own stepson who was only 10 and made death threats against Sarah Palin's father. Do you mention that in the article?

JACOBS: We didn't have time to get into everything that you have mentioned. This story was breaking over the weekend. Everyone was talking about it, and Us magazine has a very distinctive voice and we cover the news.

KELLY: Do you mention the fact — you mentioned her, quote, "involvement" with the Alaska Independence Party, a group that wants Alaska to secede from the union. Do you mention the fact that the McCain campaign has denied that and even Alaska state officials have denied that and said that's a lie?

JACOBS: OK, we're missing the point here. This is a big news story that everyone is talking about. It is a very measured story just pointing out a few things in it that you are dissatisfied with. But this was a —

KELLY: Bradley, what I'm satisfied with is fair and balanced reporting where you tell the whole story. You make one accusation, then you tell what the other side is saying. You give context to allegations rather throwing things out that are incendiary.

JACOBS: It is very balanced. You don't mention the fact that we talked to friends of the Palin family. We talked to students who go to school with Bristol. We talked to Sarah Palin's deputy mayor. We talked to Republican strategists and Democratic strategists.

KELLY: So because one part of the report is fair in your view, the other unfair reports are excused. I've got to leave it at that because we're out of time. I wish we could have given a full discussion.

JACOBS: Well, I disagree, and I hope the readers will actually read the story for themselves and make up their own mind.

KELLY: I will leave it at that. Good final word. Bradley, thanks so much.

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