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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But it is more than this. Governor Palin's treatment in 2008, fair or unfair, self-inflicted or not, reawakened a long held resentment of the "mainstream media" by mainstream Republicans—over the false story circulated in 1992 that President George H. W. Bush was unfamiliar with supermarket scanners, thus "proving" he was aristocratic and out of touch, to the phony draft documents used against his son in 2004, to a sense that coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was unshakably hostile to the war effort. Referred to with thinly disguised disdain by prominent media types—her very existence so clearly annoys the hell out of them—Palin has become a repository for these long-stewing grievanceS. This has made her more lethal than she otherwise might have been based on her performance alone.Skip to next paragraph
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She continues to embark on a strategy that only a decade or two ago—before Fox News and the blogosphere—might have been political suicide. The Alaska governor has taken every opportunity to pounce on media misstatements, to defend even would-be rivals like Newt Gingrich when it suits her anti-media campaign, and to use Twitter, Facebook, and other untested media strategies to directly spin her own narrative to the country. It is working.
Tim Pawlenty’s press team would have exchanged high fives if more than a handful of reporters cared what he did on Memorial Day weekend. Sarah Palin went out of her way to give reporters no information as to her whereabouts at all.
Few covered Jon Huntsman's thoughtful discussion of a real policy issue like U.S. relations with China; instead cable channels, websites and blogs were dominated with pictures of Sarah striding a Harley. Maybe Emperor Palpatine was onto something; Governor Palin's hatred of all things media has made her strong.
But can it make her president? The fact that the question can even be asked with a straight fact shows just how far she's come. And in a Republican primary that so far has been woefully message-challenged, "annoy the media" may not sound half bad.
Matt Latimer is the author of the New York Times bestseller, SPEECH-LESS: Tales of a White House Survivor. He was deputy director of speechwriting for George W. Bush and chief speechwriter for Donald Rumsfeld.