Palin Versus the Media

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Does Governor Sarah Palin blame the media? Is that a big part of her decision to resign?


GOV. SARAH PALIN, R-ALASKA: ... With the attacks on the kids. I'm, like, You know, kind of a double standard that's applied to us. It's a bit perplexing because most candidates, most public officials, they get to look into a camera and they say, you know, You better leave your hands off my kids. And I haven't been able to say that, and that double standard that's been applied, that's been a little bit frustrating.


VAN SUSTEREN: Just when the controversy has finally died down about his attack on Governor Palin and her daughter, Letterman could not resist making more jokes about the governor.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Oh, now, how about this, ladies and gentlemen? The governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, has announced that's she's stepping down. She will no longer be the governor of Alaska. And yes, today she went, first thing, woke up, went out on her porch and waved good-bye to Russia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waved good-bye to Russia!

LETTERMAN: Waved good-bye to Russia. Obama was waving to her...


LETTERMAN: And people are puzzled by this. They say, Well, Governor, Sarah, what are you -- what are you going to do? What's going to happen? And the insiders believe that she hopes to be the next "Octomom." But I don't know. I don't know. But friends of Governor Palin are saying that she is resigning because she is tired of attacks from the media. That's why she's resigning, tired of the attacks from the media. Thank God I didn't say anything!



VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us live is FOX News contributor Tucker Carlson. Well, Tucker, how about this time? (INAUDIBLE) he didn't pick on the kids.




CARLSON: That didn't work as well for him. No, this was pretty restrained. It's -- there's clearly, obviously, a double standard when it comes to Sarah Palin. The press, comprised mostly of liberals, obviously, doesn't like her and what she represents, the fact she's against legal abortion and she's got all these kids and she's an evangelical, and everybody hates evangelicals. All of that hurts her and draws negative coverage. That's kind of to be expected, though.

And I have to say I think she needs to change the storyline fairly quickly on this. Bowing out and explaining that by saying, you know, They hit me and hit my kids, makes you look like you can't handle it. I think Sarah Palin's probably tough enough to handle this and more and if she runs for higher office, of course, she's going to get this and more. So I think fairly shortly, she's going to want to devise another explanation.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but there's one thing, not being able to handle it. OK, you say she can handle it. Others...

CARLSON: I think she probably can, sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: You can -- you can be able to handle it, but you can just say, I don't care. I quit.


VAN SUSTEREN: That's not particularly good for someone who wants to run for office, if you've got that -- that bull's-eye on you, that you quit.

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, I think, look, there are a lot of ways to explain this, to spin it. You know, you could say, I give up. You were so mean to me, I'm out of here. That's clearly not a winning strategy for a long-term political...

VAN SUSTEREN: Did she do that?

CARLSON: You know, it depends how you interpret it. She can't leave the impression she did that, or it's over. She can't be president. Normal people can't be president. People whose feelings are easily hurt cannot be president. You have to be tough in an almost superhuman way. I've covered a lot of campaigns for president, and the one thing every candidate who gets within striking distance has is toughness, serious steel in them.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know how I think she does that? Right away, when she gets out in front -- when she gets finished with fishing, which she's a lot tougher than the rest of to go fishing, but we sit our nice warm studio, she goes out fishing with (INAUDIBLE)

CARLSON: And good for her.

VAN SUSTEREN: And good for her. Right. Is that she needs to get really quickly up on the horse, come down to the lower 48 and really start working the lower 48.

CARLSON: It depends what she wants. I mean...

VAN SUSTEREN: If she wants it, right.

CARLSON: If she wants that...

VAN SUSTEREN: If she wants that.

CARLSON: I mean, you can imagine -- I'm not completely convinced she wants a political career from this point forward. I don't think this decision makes a ton of -- I know a lot of people disagree with me, smarter than I, but I still don't think this makes a ton of sense if she wants to be president. But you know, there are other jobs that are pretty significant, not president, but I mean, she could be the leader of the conservative movement, which God knows needs one.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's -- it really is difficult to run for president or to have -- be a national figure in politics when you're up in Alaska. It is really hard to get up there. I mean, I've flown up there. I mean, the flights are very -- they're terrible flights. They're in the middle of the night. You're sleep-deprived, and you -- and you -- every time she was gone, everyone in Alaska was complaining that she wasn't up there doing her work for Alaska. Every other -- I mean, Bobby Jindal can get away with going around the country down in Louisiana and he doesn't get criticized. But every time she left, she got criticized.

CARLSON: Well, that's right. It's hard to build a national base when you're not even connected to the continent, the continental United States, as she isn't up there. But look, I mean, again, you can imagine a scenario where she becomes, you know, the marquee dinner speaker for conservatives. Ronald Reagan spent years during this, of course, first as a union guy in California and then as an employee of GE, traveling around, giving speeches on behalf of conservative ideals. And by doing that, he built his -- what became his base. I mean, you could see her doing that. She's certainly a talented communicator, and that fact has gotten lost in all this, and you know, lost partly because if a mistake she has made, mostly because of the hostility of the press.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's funny about the hostility of the press. Every time the press goes after her, I think that it just drives her supporters out in droves because it really -- it really enrages some people every time the press goes after her.

CARLSON: Yes, and it does, and there's a certain group of Americans. It's not a majority, it's a large percentage -- who think the press is biased and -- and I think they're right -- and they reflexively support whatever the president doesn't support. On the other hand, look at Barack Obama. He became president, I would argue, largely because of the fawning treatment he received from the media.

VAN SUSTEREN: But there's a big difference...

CARLSON: It helps to have the press love you, actually.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would imagine that it does help. But it's a big difference between going after a candidate aggressively about policy...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know and -- you know, and challenging and scrutinizing. I don't think that's the treatment she got. I also don't think that's the treatment Hillary Clinton got, largely. I think that they got a special treatment.

CARLSON: Well, there's a complicated psychology here, but there was something going on in the press. There was something about her having five children, one of them with Down syndrome, talking about that, tying that to the issue of abortion that infuriated lifestyle liberals. And I'm not one of them. I don't really understand...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I won't say who...

CARLSON: ... the psychology...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... but I -- I heard -- I won't tell you who but...

CARLSON: It's true, though, don't think?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'll just say that someone said to me, quipped that the reason why so many of the liberals hate her is because she's happy.


CARLSON: I think there may -- there may be something to that, but they certainly...

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know! I'm not -- I'm not saying that's true, but...

CARLSON: They hate her family arrangement. Again, I'm not a shrink. I don't exactly understand why. But I live in Washington, where 94 percent of the people vote for Obama. I hear this at dinner all the time.


CARLSON: They hate that.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is a woman, though -- she should be -- she's the consummate feminist because in the '60s, when women wanted to be able to have families and have jobs and big careers and have the husband who helped -- I mean, she actually did -- she does have that, and people are mad at her for it!

CARLSON: She's the governor of a state!


CARLSON: You know what I mean? She got the highest ratings in any political convention in American history on the basis of her speech, her talent, and yet she doesn't qualify as a real woman because she's against abortion. I mean, it's -- you know, it's a little ludicrous, I have to say.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never dull, though! Never dull!

CARLSON: Never dull!

VAN SUSTEREN: Tucker -- anyway, good to see you, Tucker.

CARLSON: Great to see you. Thank you.

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