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Barone: Media wanted Palin abortion

By MIKE ALLEN & ANDY BARR | 11/11/08 5:58 PM EST


A roomful of academics erupted in angry boos Tuesday morning after political analyst Michael Barone said journalists trashed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republicans' vice presidential nominee, because "she did not abort her Down syndrome baby."


Barone said in an e-mail that he "was attempting to be humorous and ... went over the line."


Barone was speaking at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, to the 121st annual meeting of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, which calls itself the nation's oldest higher-education association.


"The liberal media attacked Sarah Palin because she did not abort her Down syndrome baby," Barone said, according to accounts by attendees. "They wanted her to kill that child. ... I'm talking about my media colleagues with whom I've worked for 35 years."


Barone, a popular speaker on the paid lecture circuit, is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and principal coauthor of "The Almanac of American Politics."


About 500 people were in the room, and some walked out.


Barone did not dispute the accounts of his remarks. Asked about the comments, Barone said in an e-mail that he "was attempting to be humorous and, as many in public do, went over the line."


"Sorry for that," Barone said. "I was trying to focus on press hostility to Palin. I agree with [Washington Post media reporter and CNN 'Reliable Sources' host] Howard Kurtz that the press was much more interested in tracking down negative information on Palin than Obama."


Palin's youngest child, her son Trig, was born in April. Televised shots of him during her convention speech helped endear her to conservatives. During the campaign, she said she would use the vice presidency to help families with special-needs children.


Barone was speaking at a general session of a conference titled "National Implications of the 2008 Presidential Election."


At the start of his talk, Barone also did an informal, show-of-hands poll about cable news preferences. Attendees said the results were roughly MSNBC, 35 percent; CNN, 55 percent; and Fox News, 10 percent.


"I often do that," Barone explained by e-mail. "It's fun."


The education group's vice president of public affairs, Paul F. Hassen, confirmed the gist of the remarks. Barone said the quotes, which were from notes and not from a tape, were "not too far off."

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