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?
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Though she may be the shrewdest practitioner, the former governor is far from the first to make use of the mutual abhorrence society of Washington reporters and the Republican rank-and-file. To those in his party fed up with what they saw as biased news coverage of the GOP, the war in Vietnam and Watergate, Richard Nixon's "enemies list" was less a paranoid strike against free speech than a reflection of reality. Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, another once-obscure former governor, won acclaim on the right for decrying those he famously labeled "nattering nabobs of negativity." Years later yet another vice presidential contender, Dan Quayle, tried to turn savage press mockery into a rallying cry ("I wear their scorn as a badge of honor.") Quayle's boss, the first George Bush, languishing in a dismal and doomed re-election campaign, cheered dispirited supporters with a bumper sticker that read, “Annoy the Media. Re-Elect Bush.” It was the only popular message the campaign found (so of course it was quickly discarded.). The second Bush, too, never failed to win applause when he took shots at the Fourth Estate. Even the media's favorite Republican, John McCain, turned on his "base" when he realized that there were GOP votes to be gained.Skip to next paragraph
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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 yet the level of enmity between the press and Sarah Palin somehow has managed a further descent. Never before in modern political history, in fact, has any legitimate contender for high office treated the press with such constant, gleeful, unyielding contempt. (Dick Cheney comes closest). A contempt, by the way, which does not lack justifications. In the view of many Republicans, even some who felt her unready for the vice presidency, Palin was never given any chance—by the media or the McCain campaign—to recover from what her disastrous early encounter with the national press or the vicious caricature that followed. Though widely attributed to her, thanks to her media critics and Tina Fey, Palin never actually uttered what became her most uttered what became her most memorable line, "I can see Russia from my house." Widely expected to break down and drool during her lone debate with the notoriously loquacious Joe Biden, Palin felt she won little respect for surviving the encounter. A few even made the case that she won.
Palin has been criticized for conducting interviews with supposedly sympathetic and "biased" outlets like Fox News. Yet her defenders note that the same charge is not made by those critics whenever the Clintons appear on television with George Stephanopoulos, their former aide, or with their political supporters on MSNBC.