CNN-Palin Interview: Who Really Deserves an Apology?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We don't think CNN gets it. Pay close attention to this drive-by hit on Governor Palin. Now, this is CNN reporter Drew Griffin interviewing the governor. The quote he confronts the governor with is wrong.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor, you've been mocked in the press. The press has been pretty hard on you. The Democrats have been pretty hard on you. But also, some conservatives have been pretty hard on you, as well. "The National Review" had a story saying that, you know, I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above?

PALIN: Who wrote that one?

GRIFFIN: That was in "The National Review." I don't have...

PALIN: Who wrote it?

GRIFFIN: ... The author, but...

PALIN: I'd like to talk to that person.


VAN SUSTEREN: The real quote from "The National Review" is this. "Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or, well, all of the above."

Now, CNN, quote, "apologized," but to "The National Review," not to Governor Palin, as far as we know.


GRIFFIN: The exchange aired just once in your show, Wolf. And as soon as "The National Review" brought it to our attention at 7:05, we immediately realized the context could be misconstrued, and we cut that portion of the interview. It never aired again. We also sent a statement directly to "The National Review" explaining what happened and that we do not plan to run it again. And I've since called Byron York and his editor, Rich Lowry, explained what happened and told them both that I regret any harm this may have brought.


VAN SUSTEREN: Byron York, the man who wrote that column that was misquoted and apparently got the apology from CNN, joins us live. And apparently, you've had some communication with the reporter.

BYRON YORK, "NATIONAL REVIEW": That's right. Drew called me yesterday and couldn't have been nicer, said he was sorry, he didn't mean to mangle the quote and that it was all an accident. So he explained it to me. And he also called Rich Lowry, the editor of "National Review," and did the same thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's interesting, Byron, is, like, look, every single one of us can make a mistake. Every single one of us has made a mistake. The thing that I don't get is that the mistake wasn't really made to you, the harm. She's running for office. We're 11 days out. And it seems to me that the right thing to do is for CNN to give it as large an audience and repeat -- and maybe more than once, the fact that they got it wrong because that was a profoundly insulting and personal insult to give to her.

YORK: Right. You know, the victim in this is not me or even "National Review." It was Governor Palin, who was really sandbagged with this just out-of-nowhere question because it -- you know, when she asked who wrote that, well, nobody wrote that. I mean, nobody had written it quite that way. And they have distorted the meaning of it.

So I think it -- you know, it did leave the governor, you know, sort of out of sorts because it was -- you know, it was very unexpected. Now, I have been told that CNN has talked to Governor Palin's staff. They didn't do an apology on air. They did one -- they did a correction as far as "National Review" is concerned. They did that yesterday. But as far as directing a statement toward the Palin campaign or toward Governor Palin herself, they didn't. But they did speak privately with the Palin people. And as far as I understand, the Palin camp is not interested in pursuing this any further.

Watch Greta's interview with Byron York

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the problem, is that they should -- they should turn on their cameras, look straight in the cameras because we're 11 days out, and there are people out there voting who have heard the remark pushed right in her face, shoved right in her face -- incompetent, stupid, whatever it was -- and it was wrong and it was cruel. It was mean and it was a terrible act of journalism. He may be a great journalist, but in this instance, he made a big mistake. He can undo it. CNN can undo it. But they're going to sit and tag themselves the most respected or most trusted name in news, well, they need to step up to the plate and correct it because we are 11 days out from a very important election.

YORK: It's true. It was a sledgehammer of a question. And in this case, you have what's going on in public and then what's going on in private. And I'll you what I'm told from both sides, is that, as you can imagine, the Palin camp feels that outside of FOX, they really haven't gotten a fair shake in most of the media. But of the rest of those reporters, they think Drew Griffin is a pretty fair guy. They feel like...

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) I don't mean -- I don't mean...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... Mean to indict his entire career. You know, and don't -- I mean, and if he's watching, I don't mean to indict him. I'm also not saying that -- you know, that -- you know, I'm not capable of making an egregious mistake, either. The criticism I have more is their failure to correct it 11 days out from an election, you know, after this woman has been literally pummeled with personal insults. You know, I -- you know, if I did this to someone, you know, 11 days out from an election in such a cruel fashion, you know, I'd -- you know, I -- I'd have a stroke.

YORK: Well, I agree with you. What they needed to do, in addition to making amends in private with the Palin campaign, was to simply come out in public and say, We asked the governor this question, it was based on a mistake, we made a mistake, it made her look bad, and we regret doing it. And that could have taken care of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. Indeed. That would have been the end of it. And they can still do that and make it the end of it, and I'll let it go. I'm not -- I'm not going to be a dog on -- I'm not going to be a dog on a bone about it, you know, but anyway, Byron, thank you.

YORK: Great to be here.

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