The Palin scoop that wasn't

A big new political book promises a juicy detail that isn't really all that juicy

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 9, 2010 12:26AM (EST)

"Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime" comes out next week. Written by Time's Mark Halperin and New York's John Heilemann, it's supposed to be perhaps the big literary summary of the 2008 presidential election. And it's already getting some press, including a feature on "60 Minutes" this weekend. But some of the press it's gotten so far seems, well, less than deserved.

The big detail from the book that's gotten attention this week is a story about Sarah Palin and her preparation for the vice-presidential debate, against Joe Biden. The press release for the "60 Minutes" story -- published on Drudge, who got the book and this story covered elsewhere as a result -- tells the story this way:

Palin had a reflexive tendency to refer to Biden as “O’Biden,” says [Steve Schmidt, former chief campaign strategist for John McCain], something that had to be fixed before the debate. He says others in the campaign came up with a solution. “It was multiple people -- and I wasn't one of them-- who all said at the same time, ‘Just say, Can I call you Joe,’ which she did.” Schmidt says he took over the prepping, simplified it, and says she “more than held her own” in the debate. But not without one “O’Biden” slip on national television.

In Politico, Mike Allen turned this anecdote and the release into a full story. And it got pickup elsewhere as well.

But it wasn't exactly a scoop, or even as embarrassing to Palin as one might have thought.  In fact, as you can see in the image included below, Palin herself told the tale in her own book, "Going Rogue."

Everyone wants to sell their book, and that's understandable; but this particular tactic seems a little dishonest, and the people who've run with it as a big story since seem just a little lazy.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Game Change Going Rogue Joe Biden Sarah Palin War Room