Millions of TV viewers who watched ABC News’ interview with Sarah Palin Thursday night never saw her take issue with a key question in which she was asked if she believes that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is “a task that is from God.”
The exchange between Palin and ABC’s Charlie Gibson, in which she questioned the accuracy of the quote attributed to her, was edited out of the television broadcast but included in official, unedited transcripts posted on ABC’s Web site, as well as in video posted on the Internet.
But in the version shown on television, a video clip of her original statement was inserted in place of her objection, giving a different impression of how Palin views the Iraq war.
In the interview, Gibson asked Palin: “You said recently in your old church, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a Holy War?”
Palin’s response, which appears in the transcript but was edited out of the televised version, was:
“You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.”
“It’s exact words,” Gibson said.
But Gibson’s quote left out what Palin said before that:
“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”
The edited televised version included a partial clip of that quote, but not the whole thing.
Gibson’s characterization of Palin’s words prompted a sharp rebuke from the McCain campaign on Thursday.
“Governor Palin’s full statement was VERY different” from the way Gibson characterized it,” read a statement circulated by McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
“Gibson cut the quote — where she was clearly asking for the church TO PRAY THAT IT IS a task from God, not asserting that it is a task from God.
“Palin’s statement is an incredibly humble statement, a statement that this campaign stands by 100 percent, and a sentiment that any religious American will share,” Bounds wrote.
In the rest of the segment that aired, Palin told Gibson that she was referencing Abraham’s Lincoln’s words on how one should never presume to know God’s will. She said she does not presume to know God’s will and that she was only asking the audience to “pray that we are on God’s side.”
A promo posted on Yahoo! News Friday continued to misrepresent the exchange. It displays Palin’s image next to the words, “Iraq war a ‘holy war?’” implying that Palin — not Gibson — had called the War on Terror a holy war.
ABC News did not respond to requests for comment from FOXNews.com.
ABC’s mischaracterization of Palin’s words was not the only one in the media. The Washington Post also did some last-minute clean-up in one of its articles on Palin — a front-page story Friday with the headline “Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 in Talk to Troops in Alaska.”
As pointed out by The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, the original version posted online used harsher language than the one that hit Beltway newsstands early Friday morning.
The original passage, written by staff writer Anne E. Kornblut, read:
“Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would ‘defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.’
“The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped Al Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. On any other day, Palin’s statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday’s anniversary.”
But in the print version, and the version now appearing on the newspaper’s Web site, the article softened its claim a bit by swapping in the last line with this: “But it is widely agreed that militants allied with Al Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.”