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MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Berates 'Emotional' Young Woman for Being a Sarah Palin Fan

MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell on Wednesday interrogated a young woman who supported Sarah Palin in 2008, demanding this new voter explain her reasons for admiring the ex-Alaska governor. "What is it that you most like about her? What policy," she grilled. [Audio can be found here.]

When this Palin fan, Jackie Seal, applauded the Republican for "uphold[ing] the Constitution," O'Donnell insistently queried, "Specifically?" The correspondent, who filed her report from a mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had a cue card with her and read a quote pointing out that Palin supported the bailout of Wall Street. She repeatedly brought this fact up: "Did you know that Sarah Palin supported the bailout?...So, Sarah Palin was for the bailout...She's against the stimulus, but during the campaign, she was for the bailout, as was John McCain. Does that change your view?"

O'Donnell later reported on the incident for that evening's Hardball, telling host Chris Matthews that many Palin supporters have an "emotional connection." She condescendingly explained: "A lot of the people I spoke with today were unable to articulate exactly why they supported Sarah Palin. One of them said it was because she upholds the Constitution, was confused and thought that Sarah Palin had opposed the bailout when, in fact, Sarah Palin supported the bailout." She also made sure to point out that the crowd was "largely white, almost no minorities."

O'Donnell updated the story on Thursday's News Live. Apparently, some talk radio hosts were incorrectly labeling the young woman as only 13-years-old. While not giving an exact age, O'Donnell did say that she had voted in the last election. The MSNBC reporter continued to tweak Ms. Seal for being "confused about Palin's position on the issues. I think that is important to point that out."

O'Donnell proceeded to dismiss the Palin fan and complained about the ex-Alaska governor's book, Going Rogue:

NORAH O'DONNELL: This book wouldn't tell you about the issues, it requires reading. It requires examination. And so I think that that was a reflective moment in terms of finding out just how much people are either confused about the issues or didn't know about the issues.

Did it ever occur to Ms. O'Donnell that the job of vice presidential candidates is to support the top of the ticket? In this case, it meant that Palin had to back some of John McCain's less conservative positions.

A transcript of the MSNBC News Live segment, which aired at 3:15pm EST on November 18, and the following day's update, is below:

DAVID SHUSTER: MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell is live in Grand Rapids Michigan. And, Norah, are people concerned about policies or just want to meet the celebrity, Sarah Palin?

NORAH O'DONNELL: They want to meet Sarah Palin and there are thousands, thousands to people that have been lined up since five o'clock this morning. Some even came last night. There were 1500 people by 7am. They're all standing and waiting in this line, even though Sarah Palin is not expected to be here for another three hours. It's truly remarkable when you look and talk to some of these people, a lot of people connect with Sarah Palin right here.

...

3:19

[O'Donnell is now talking to a 18-year-old girl]

O'DONNELL: Tell me your name?

JACKIE SEAL (Waiting to meet Sarah Palin): Jackie.

O'DONNELL: Jackie and you have been out here. Show me your t-shirt. Tell me what it says.

JACKIE SEAL: "The U.S. government handed out $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts and you will I got was this lousy t-shirt."

O'DONNELL: Did you know that Sarah Palin support the bailout?

SEAL: I don't- where did you hear that?

O'DONNELL: During the campaign, John McCain brought everyone to Washington, praised the bailout and Sarah Palin, during the debate, the vice presidential debate, praised John McCain for bringing folks together to pass the bill and said, [reading off a card] "It is a time of crisis in government. That it's time to step in. So, Sarah Palin was for the bailout."

SEAL: I don't think she was. I think if you asked her today, she was not for the bailout.

O'DONNELL: The reason I ask you, I think it was - there's some confusion about Sarah Palin's policies and that's why I asked you that. She's against the stimulus, but during the campaign, she was for the bailout, as was John McCain. Does that change your view?

SEAL: No, it does not.

O'DONNELL: What is it that you most like about her? What policy?

SEAL: Uh, she upholds the Constitution, the document that made this country so great. And that's what we need to go back to. We have gone so far from the Constitution that we are reaping the benefits- the consequences of that right now.

O'DONNELL: Specifically?

SEAL: Um, big government, the Constitution was written so that government would be limited and spending didn't become out of control and it was in the hands of people.

MSNBC News Live

11/19/09

3:33

O'DONNELL: Well, her name was Jackie Seal and she voted in the last election, not 13 years old as some have suggested. And it is important to point out that when I walk and talk to a bunch of people up and down the line, I say "Who wants to talk on camera?" Some people say, "I don't want to talk." They're not ready to talk. Some people say, "I want to talk, So, I walked down and met that man who had the shirt that said Palin for president on it. and I said, "Is there a woman who will come and talk about Sarah Palin?" And he grabbed that woman and pulled her over. So, I did not choose that woman, it just so happens she had a shirt on and was confused about Palin's position on the issues. I think that is important to point that out. We do it with both sides of the aisle, sometimes people are connected to a politician or someone but know very little about them on the issues. This book wouldn't tell you about the issues, it requires reading. It requires examination. And so I think that that was a reflective moment in terms of finding out just how much people are either confused about the issues or didn't know about the issues. But, it is important to point out everybody we interviewed volunteered and that case, a previous voter and not 13 years old.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.