Jake Turcotte

Why won't Sarah Palin talk to the press?

At one time, Joe Biden was the mystery man. Not getting any press. Not making any noise. That wasn't of his own doing, of course. He was just being ignored. John McCain, Barack Obama, and Sarah Palin were just too newsworthy.

Not recently, however. Biden's been all over the news. Some of his appearances have been positive for the campaign and some have made the Obama campaign wince, grimace, and imitate the Homer Simpson, "Doh!"

But he's been out there. Sure, he dramatized the helicopter incident. And sure he flip-flopped on the McCain disco commercial.  But he's also fired up the base at different gatherings and has spoken forcefully about Obama's agenda and slammed McCain into next year.  And he's given the press whatever they wanted.

Dick Cheney

We can't say the same thing about the Republican nominee for vice president. In fact, it's the polar opposite.

It's like she's disappeared in to Al Gore's infamous lockbox. Either that or she's pulling off the greatest impersonation ever of Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location.

We changed our minds

Today, for example, the traveling press was told there would be a print reporter and a producer in the pool at the beginning of the meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

But then the McCain campaign changed their collective minds and said video and still cameras only. The networks said the equivalent of "no shirt, no shoes, no service."  They weren't going to cover the event at all.

High noon

So a standoff ensued.  It was like the Old West.  Just like the scene from Tombstone when Doc Holliday meets Johnny Ringo.

In the end, the McCain campaign relented, asked the press to be their Huckleberry and allowed a CNN producer entry.  The networks get their footage.  The campaign gets photos and videos of Palin with a foreign dignitary.

On the surface this all seems like it could be avoided. Especially because the condensed press was in the room for a grand total of 29 seconds.  Why all the drama? "It was just a miscommunication," said one Palin staffer.

Since being selected to the McCain ticket, Palin has participated in just three interviews and has yet to hold a press conference.  She is scheduled to speak with Katie Couric later this week.

Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd

The fact is, Palin is the equivalent of a Pink Floyd show (minus the chemicals).  They sell out every time, and so does Palin. She brings in tremendous crowds where she goes - reportedly drawing 60,000 people in Florida over the weekend.

John McCain's chief honcho in New York, Representative Peter King, compared her to some of the immortals of rock 'n roll.

"She's become like the Beatles or U2," King said. "She's got a certain celebrity status now – people want to see her; they want to hear her."

Attica! Attica!

The press feels the same way.  They don't have idolization thing going but they want access.  And it showed this afternoon around the series of tubes.

Andrew Sullivan is creative in his criticism calling the McCain campaign's handling of Palin "sexist" citing a different set of rules are applied for media access to Palin and "devising less onerous debate rules for a female candidate." His advice to the beleagured press pool?  Revolt!

"Fight back, you hacks! Demand access," Sullivan writes.  "Demand accountability! It's our duty. If we cannot ask questions of a total newbie six weeks before an election in which she could become president of the country, then the First Amendment is pointless."

Scott Conroy over at CBS grouses that this is not the first example of poor communication skills on behalf of the McCain campaign.

In Orlando on Sunday, Palin had another off-the-record stop at an ice cream shop, but the pool producer who was assigned to be in Palin’s motorcade was not notified when the candidate departed to get ice cream, and so there was no editorial presence at the event.

ABC's Kate Snow reports frustration:

Palin has not held a news conference since being selected as McCain's running-mate, nor taken questions from her traveling press corps, frustrating journalists assigned to cover Palin for the election.

Kenneth Vogel at Politico says things are getting testy:

Sarah Palin’s relationship with her traveling press corps went from barely existing to downright chilly Tuesday, when the two sides briefly engaged in a standoff over journalists’ access to Palin’s photo ops on the sidelines of the United Nations meetings here.

Mark Silva over at The Swamp says the campaign is trying to avoid a repeat of an incident last week.

The McCain/Palin campaign's effort to stifle editorial coverage of the candidate's meetings with world leaders comes a week after CBS News asked Palin an impromptu question about the AIG bailout, while Palin made an off-the-record stop at a Cleveland diner.
"After the Cleveland event, a Palin staffer told CBS News that questions "weren't allowed."
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