In a Sept. 24 NewsBusters post and Sept. 25 MRC CyberAlert item, Matthew Balan asserted that CNN "desperately tried to criticize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for a 'Road to Nowhere' that was part of the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere' project," accepting as fact a Palin spokesperson's claim that ""under ordinary circumstances, Governor Palin would not have allowed the Gravina road project to move forward. But given the federal earmark was granted and because the contract for the road was already signed before she got into office, the governor was left no viable alternative."
Turns out that's not exactly true. According to ProPublica:
But the governor did have a viable alternative. Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) signed the contract for the road on Dec. 1, 2006, three days before he left office. Palin could have cancelled that contract upon taking office, according to Alaska Department of Transportation spokesman Roger Wetherell. In such cases, contractors are reimbursed for any expenses incurred in association with the project.
For instance, in her first month in office, Palin cancelled a $18.6 million contract to build a one-lane, 11-mile gravel road out of Juneau. That contract had also been awarded by Murkowski at the end of his term, but Palin, judging the project wasteful and the contract award insufficiently transparent, terminated it. The state reimbursed the contractor for $65,500 in expenses, Wetherell said.
Gov. Palin also had a "viable alternative" when it came to the earmark. It's true that the Gravina Island Highway presented a more difficult case than the Juneau road, which was funded entirely with state money. But it's not true that the earmark forced Palin to spend the money on the road. Palin could have opted not to use the money, and Congress has the power to send it to other federal needs, said Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox.
Will Balan mention this? Don't count on it.