Several hours ago on Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin claimed that “we have the tape that proves” that local reporters in Alaska were conspiring against Joe Miller, the Palin-endorsed Senate candidate.
This afternoon, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron aired a portion of a tape that Andrew Breitbart has posted and which Breitbart claims is a recording of a voicemail that reporters at Alaska's KTVA left with an aide to Miller's campaign. Cameron reported that Fox News “cannot verify” what Palin claimed. Cameron also said, “We have not been able to confirm it, nor have we been able to listen to the entirety of the message before the conversation that wasn't supposed to be recorded.” Cameron further reported that Fox News was “not exactly sure what the authenticity of this is.”
Fox News did not explain why it aired a portion of an audio whose authenticity it could not verify, or why Sarah Palin, who is employed by Fox News, is allowed to make claims that the network itself cannot substantiate.
In contrast to Palin's characterization of the recording, Politico's Ben Smith wrote, “The transcript does not, in fact, make it terribly clear what they're talking about.”
KTVA station manager Jerry Bever subsequently confirmed that “the recording is real,” but he said that the allegations Palin had made about them are false. Bever said, “That phone call was placed near the end of a coverage planning meeting in our newsroom regarding that evening's Miller rally in downtown Anchorage. The group of KTVA news personnel was reviewing potential 'what-if' scenarios, discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news.” Bever further said:
The perception that this garbled, out of context recording may leave is unfortunate, but to allege that our staff was discussing or planning to create or fabricate stories regarding candidate Miller is absurd. The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do.
Media Matters CEO David Brock released a statement calling on Palin to release the full audio of the tape that she claimed proved that journalists were conspiring to fabricate stories about Miller on Fox News Sunday:
“Sarah Palin has made serious accusations of journalistic malfeasance. Either Palin accurately described the tapes, or she did not. America's news consumers need to know the truth about these serious accusations. The public in Alaska needs to know the truth so they are fully and correctly informed before they cast their ballots Tuesday. Palin has a responsibility to release the full, unedited tapes publicly and to all media.”
Fox News previously came under criticism and acknowledged a “breakdown” after running with misleading video pushed by Breitbart that smeared former USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a racist.