Sarah Palin and The Press

At this point no one can argue that the press and elites editorializing on major newspaper pages, lead by a coterie of elite women including Maureen Dowd, Andrea Mitchell, Sally Quinn, Gloria Steinem and even, in an unguarded moment, Peggy Noonan, have been kind to Sarah Palin and her family. Scurrilous rumors began swirling the moment she was named as the VP candidate in a clear attempt to define her before America met her at the convention and liked her. Jack Kelly (h/t Anchoress who is blog storming, wow) says of this phenomenon:

Journalists last week cast aside the mask of objectivity to reveal they are so deeply in the tank for Mr. Obama most have grown gills. For six days, Sarah Palin and her family were subjected to a relentless barrage of innuendo. Journalists were trying to “define” her before she had an opportunity to introduce herself to the people in the lower 48. She was portrayed as an ignorant redneck from a hick town who should be home caring for her children instead of running for high public office.

In short, according to Nick Cohen of the UK’s The Observer, the press went berserk:

For once, the postmodern theories so many of them [the press] were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was ‘the other’ – the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against. They might have soberly examined her reputation as an opponent of political corruption to see if she was truly the reformer she claimed to be. They might have gently mocked her idiotic creationism, while carefully avoiding all discussion of the racist conspiracy theories of Barack Obama’s church.

But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk. On the one hand, the media treated her as a sex object. The New York Times led the way in painting Palin as a glamour-puss in go-go boots you were more likely to find in an Anchorage lap-dancing club than the Alaska governor’s office.

On the other, liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance. Palin was meant to be pretending that a handicapped baby girl was her child when really it was her wanton teenage daughter’s. When that turned out to be a lie, the media replaced it with prurient coverage of her teenage daughter, who was, after all, pregnant, even though her mother was not going to do a quick handover at the maternity ward and act as if the child was hers.

The press and the liberal elites unmasked themselves, and yet, David Frum writes that Sarah Palin still owes them something because she’ll need them some day:

Speaking directly to the people works when the people are intensely engaged. But big publics pay only intermittent attention to politics and policy. When that attention is diverted, specialists and enthusiasts reclaim their usual disproportionate impact.

By that time however the argument may well have been lost among that portion of the public that is still paying attention.

This analysis misses something: the American public did not disengage from George W. Bush, he disengaged from them. Many bloggers, yours truly included, grew frustrated with the Presidents inability or lack of desire to present the facts and his case, to America. He failed to lead in communicating and this gap let the press move in and define events, like the Iraq war, in terms of body count.

Don Surber also wonders what Sarah Palin owes the press:

Mark Silva at the Chicago Tribune took it a step further: “Sarah Palin: AWOL from Sunday circuit.”

AWOL?

Like she’s supposed to report for duty to the press?

A press that hastrashed her church, her family and her hometwon in a rather odd frenzy.

But she’s unknown, everyone complained.

Who’s fault is that?

Conservative bloggers knew who the heck she was a year ago. I was among those who wanted her on the ticket last December.

She wants to control her coverage — just like Obama and Biden.

And so, the LA Times say they’re forced, forced, to analyze her style, because they don’t know her substance as though she hasn’t been in public service for the last nine years. And they write this silliness and presume Americans will take them seriously. But how can a thinking person take this seriously? At once condescending and dismissive, this from Booth Moore, offers a nice summation of the press’ view of Palin:

Barely a blip on the political radar before now, Palin has to go the extra mile to hone her VP style. But far from uglifying herself, she plays up her sexuality. And this early on, Palin is already playing the image game like a pro. When Sen. John McCain accepted the nomination Thursday night, she wore a black satin jacket that dipped just low enough in front so you could see some cleavage. In this political marriage, Palin clearly knows she’s the trophy.

And Palin, the barracuda, should swim into, like yesterday, these shark-infested waters. Why? Americans are learning all about her, because, unlike journalists, they can do Google searches and read her contributions in Alaska. They can read about her personal life. They can look at the rumors and innuendo and find the rebuttals in five minutes. And they can do all this while realizing that none of it is being covered in the press fairly.

Jeff Goldstein writes about American’s perception of the press and the notion that the press is “free”:

I’ve written about this enough that a long dissertation on the problems of media bias isn’t really necessary — though I will reiterate that a media that purports to be objective and uses that ostensible objectivity as a shield to guard itself against attack, is a very real danger to a democratic republic, whose citizens rely on the press for the information necessary to make informed decisions.

I am not against bias per se: honest advocacy of one’s viewpoint is hardly troubling to the free exchange of ideas; so if our press were to suddenly admit to its leanings, the market would demand other voices come along to express the opposite leanings.

But as it stands now, we have a mainstream press that clearly tilts leftward — as a number of studies, as well as public perception can attest — and yet it continues to be allowed to operate under the pretense of objectivity, which is enough to influence a not insignificant number of citizens raised to believe that our press is both objective and (in the post Watergate years), in many ways heroic.

Is it any wonder that Americans have this view, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

According to Rasmussen, fully 68% of voters believe that “most reporters try to help the candidate they want to win.” And — no surprise — 49% of those surveyed believe reporters are backing Barack Obama, while just 14% think the media is in the tank for Sen. McCain.

Meanwhile, 51% of those surveyed thought the press was “trying to hurt” Mrs. Palin with its coverage.

Perhaps most troubling for the press corps, though, was this finding: “55% said media bias is a bigger problem for the electoral process than large campaign donations.”

It’s a huge problem and one that some in the press seem to be starting to recognize. Tonight, the New York Time reports this:

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.

The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.

“The most disappointing shift is to see the partisan attitude move from prime time into what’s supposed to be straight news programming,” said Davidson Goldin, formerly the editorial director of MSNBC and a co-founder of the reputation management firm DolceGoldin.

Pardon me, but “perceived shift”? Surely, the Time’s writer jests. Is the shift left even in question? Not to average Americans who pay attention. If my wee blog is any indication, Americans are supremely curious about Sarah Palin and this election generally. Other bloggers report the same increase in traffic. In the absence of hard news, people seek information. When they come to my blog, they’ll note my bias. Yep, I have one. But they’ll also be able to go to the original news sources and check facts.

Still, the majority of Americans get their news from the mainstream media. They watch, evidently, with skeptical eyes. They aren’t nearly as stupid and impressionable as the press, themselves, believe.

The contempt for Sarah Palin belies a contempt for average Americans. The press believes that if they tell lies long enough, it will become the truth. They believe that they can sway the minds of Americans. They believe that Americans are dupes to be manipulated into a certain electoral outcome.

Americans recognize when they’re the butt of a joke. They are right to be offended. And anyone with smarts will try to stop these despicable actions. It is especially humorous to see those in the press defend themselves as objective. It makes people dismiss them all the more because their self-awareness is so lacking.

Sarah Palin will eventually engage the press. Still, it is unlikely she’ll be treated fairly. The press seems incapable of doing so. A tough, fair interview would inevitably cast her more favorably and the press simply can’t risk that for it will inhibit their candidate’s chances.

Expect no press love affair with Sarah Palin. They have already cast themselves as spurned lovers. Hell hath no fury like a press scorned.

Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com where I was a blogging fool all weekend. Man. There’s the Softer Side of Andrew Sullivan. And then, and I’d like to hear what you guys think of it, I have a longish piece on the rise and fall of Barack Obama. It’s kinda a deconstruction of his frame of reference and why it seems like he’s already lost.

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