ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Hollywood Reporter) - The McCain campaign came out swinging Wednesday against the media over the controversy and coverage swirling around vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Republican National Committee Victory 2008 chair Carly Fiorina, former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift and several other high-profile GOP women accused media outlets, liberal bloggers and the Obama campaign of sexism. Palin has found herself in the middle of a swirl of controversy since Friday, when John McCain announced her as his running mate.
"The Republican Party will not stand by while Sarah Palin is being subjected to sexist attacks," said Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
In a sometimes testy exchange with the assembled reporters, Fiorina and others criticized liberal Web sites and other unspecified media outlets for accusing the Alaska governor of faking a pregnancy, being part of "fringe groups" and for releasing her Social Security number on the Web. "We have seen supermarket tabloids that not only support Barack Obama putting these smears on the cover but also shout with massive headlines about sex and babies and lies," Fiorina said.
Palin's sudden thrust into the spotlight has led to a feeding frenzy among the media, which was surprised by the pick and has been struggling as a group to find out more about her.
Fueling the frenzy is the revelation of her 17-year-old daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
"Just like me, Gov. Palin loves her children, and I think we need to leave it at that," Swift said. Earlier in the day, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis scolded the media for its initial reporting on Palin and her life.
"Certainly, her record deserves scrutiny, but we ought to look at her record," Davis said. "The salacious nature of how these outlets have tried to throw dirt at our candidates has been inappropriate."
Noting a backlash to some of the seamier sides of the coverage, he said the situation seemed to be improving Wednesday.
"I think if everybody could dial it back, everybody would benefit from that," Davis said. The hastily called news conference took place hours before Palin would take the national stage for her Wednesday night speech at the Republican National Convention. Palin hasn't spoken to the media since McCain picked her as his running mate, although she has been on the campaign trail. Except for a brief speech Friday with McCain in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. voters haven't heard from her.
At the news conference, other women including Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, said they knew firsthand about sexist treatment. They also spoke out against the way Hillary Clinton was treated during the primary process.