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Sarah Palin vs. mainstream media: Who's winning?

Sarah Palin's Bus Tour to Nowhere is attracting a gaggle of reporters, much to the chagrin of the declared Republican candidates. How savvy is Sarah Palin in handling the media?

June 3, 2011

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (left) poses with celebrity look-alike impersonator Cecilia Thompson during a tour of Boston June 2, 2011.

Steven Senne/AP


By Matt Latimer

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It has been three years since the first exclamatory sentences were deployed and grammatically challenged Twitter invectives unleashed in the epic conflagration between Sarah Palin and the "lamestream" media. You'll never guess who's winning the war.

Judge for yourselves: On one side, the news business continues its dreary decline. Papers have folded. Reporters face mass layoffs. Even Palin's 2008 nemesis, Katie Couric, has abandoned her once coveted anchor desk to again show viewers how to jazz up their sex life, wear figure-flattering swimsuits, and make the world's yummiest blueberry pie. Meanwhile the Alaska governor has become rich, relevant, ravenously read, widely watched and, at least in terms of consideration as a presidential candidate, dangerously close to respectable. In the tawdry codependency that exists between Palin and the press—neither can quit the other—exactly who is supposed to be the dimwit again?

Last week saw yet another example of the Alaskan's unmatched skills in media manipulation. All Palin need do is get on a tour bus and head east and Washington's most elite scribes fall over themselves to find out where she's headed, what she'll say, what she’ll do. All of it was meaningless, of course, and the press corps knew its collective chain was being yanked even as they jawboned everyone from Sarah Palin's housekeeper to her first cousin's neighbor's best friend for any morsel of "news" about her plans. As one of Mrs. Palin's frenzied chroniclers put it in a moment of clarity, “She's probably retiring to her bus each day, turning on the TV and laughing at everyone trying to figure out what the hell she's up to, then watching hits on her website go through the roof.”

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Members of the press, that queasy feeling you have begun to experience is the knowledge that Sarah Palin has become a media genius. And she owes it all to you. Keep it up, and this once unthinkable transformation just might propel her to the White House.

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