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After Taking Some Shots, She Fires Back

Someone's in the kitchen with Sarah: Matt Lauer talks to Palin and her family in the governor's first network interview since the election.
Someone's in the kitchen with Sarah: Matt Lauer talks to Palin and her family in the governor's first network interview since the election. (Nbc)
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Van Susteren says she is "scandalized" by the way journalists are using blind quotes to denigrate Palin. "I think anonymous sources have a place in journalism, on government malfeasance and whistle-blowing," she says. "But when did we become the National Enquirer that we're reporting gossip? It's very unfair."

Cameron, her Fox colleague, says he stands by what sources told him on condition that he not report it until after the election. "This was a circular firing squad, and they let me watch," he says. "To the degree people thought I was enjoying my reporting -- some thought I looked overenthusiastic -- I may have blown the execution."

Politico's Allen says of the whack-job quote: "I found it illuminating because it came from an extremely senior McCain person, clearly reflecting the views of others in the inner circle. I would not have used it from the peanut gallery, internal or external."

Palin did not use these forums to back off her harshest campaign rhetoric. Asked by Blitzer about her charge that Barack Obama was "palling around with terrorists," she said: "Well, I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers. And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist."

The onetime sports anchor told King last night that the media need to "get back to who, what, when, where and why. . . . If I can help restore that credibility in the press . . . I want to be able to help."

While taking swipes at bloggers -- "probably sitting there in their parents' basement, wearing their pajamas" -- Palin also misstated some facts. She complained to Lauer about "the rumors, the speculation, even in mainstream media, that Trig wasn't actually my child, that Trig was somebody else's child and I faked a pregnancy," calling that "absolutely ridiculous."

In fact, no mainstream outlet published the Internet rumors until the McCain campaign issued a statement, during the GOP convention, that Palin's teenage daughter Bristol was pregnant. McCain officials told reporters they were putting out the news because of inquiries about whether the governor was really Trig's mother.

Palin told Lauer she found it "annoying" when Couric asked, "What do you read up there in Alaska?" as if it were a remote corner of the Earth. But although Lauer did not point it out, Couric, his former "Today" co-host, had simply asked Palin what newspapers and magazines she regularly reads "to stay informed," with no reference to her state. In response, the governor declined to name a single publication.

Palin told Van Susteren that "mainstream media" kept publishing questionable stories "instead of just coming to me and, you know, setting the record straight." She said of critical female journalists: "I just would have loved to have the opportunity to have sat down and spoken with them." In fact, after her encounters with Couric and ABC's Charlie Gibson, the campaign all but cut off media access to Palin and rejected most interview requests.

David Zurawik, the Baltimore Sun's television critic, says Palin has "run rings around" those questioning her.

"I was really disappointed in Matt Lauer," he says. "I thought he was so accommodating and letting her get away with stuff without following up." Zurawik calls the Van Susteren interview "beyond friendly," saying: "Greta Van Susteren is totally sympathetic to her and makes no secret about it."

With the campaign over, Palin seems more than happy to fill the media void. "Being in the limelight is good," says Persily, a former Anchorage Daily News editor. "She's smitten by it, just like McCain was smitten by her. She loves the attention."

Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program, "Reliable Sources."

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