Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Media's Palinization: Why It Continues To Allow Itself To Be Co-Opted

I have been reading books about and by Sarah Palin lately.  Two reasons for this: I am contemplating collaborating with a scholar on a book about the Palin Birth Hoax and the mainstream media's cowardly retreat from the likelihood that she faked a pregnancy in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election.  And although I do not believe that there is an ounce of genuineness in this woman, I continue to grapple with why she remains such a heroine for so many conservatives although her star in the Republican galaxy has faded, and remains such a powerfully divisive force on the national scene.

There are few, if any, better examples of a resume without a person than Palin, whose sheer vapidity and penchant for making over-the-top declarations; indeed, saying the wrong thing time and again, nevertheless makes her such a magnet for people who are convinced, as she is, that America has gone crazy.  (We actually kind of agree here, although for different reasons.) 
Palin and many of her acolytes believe that the end time is near.  They believe that Barack Obama is demon spawn and that government overreaches in everything from helping provide health care for those who need it most to confronting the menace of global warming.  They lie awake at night obsessing over America's fast shrinking white majority.  And they have an utter lack of curiosity about anything and everything that does not comport with their profoundly constipated world view.
It is this last aspect that perhaps most succinctly captures this self-anointed mama grizzly: Like her followers, Palin doesn't want to read or hear anything that conflicts with her beliefs.  More than that, people who disagree with her are not merely wrong, they are evil.  She could never acknowledge the existence of evolution, she has explained with utter seriousness, because she once saw pictures showing human footprints inside dinosaur tracks.
Why shouldn't we simply ignore Palin?  We don't really need yet another book, let alone another commentary, about her, right?
I don't care if John McCain, who confessed that he opted for Palin as a running mate in 2008 because she "made a strong impression," was put up to it.  His selection of Palin was incredible at the time based on what little we knew about her, and is appalling in retrospect now that we know so much about her.  This includes a disdain for any semblance of intellectual growth, her racism, and that she has had only one job in her entire life that she didn't quit, which at least is in keeping with a key tenet of the Tea Party that adores her and she loves back -- walking away from commitments, even if it means shutting down the government and putting people out of work.  Then there is Palin's well-documented vengefulness.  And some people still believe she would make a great president?
Palin remains fair game so long as she is afforded credibility by the mainstream media, let alone the posse at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.  And indeed she was taken credibly in her short-lived run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  It wasn't that the "lamestream" media, as Palin calls it, had failed to catch on that she was a liar and a cipher based on the 2008 campaign experience and since then.  The media simply didn't care.  The media didn't care to question, let alone investigate, the birth hoax, among other glaring examples of her playing fast and loose with the facts, and as a result in effect vouched for her truthfulness.

When rarely confronted as to why it was cowed by Palin, the media hid behind the specious notion that it respected her family's privacy while at the same time she was using Trig, a Down Syndrome child whom I believe probably was not her own, and her other children as stage props.  Or when the privacy excuse didn't float, the media could smugly remind us that Palin would never be president, so
why bother to call her out?
Why bother to call her out when it was reported, in the wake of the nearly successful assassination attempt against Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in January 2011, that Palin's political action committee had targeted Giffords' congressional district at a website with gunsight crosshairs.  Palin not only went ballistic over the suggestion that she may have contributed in some way to the dementia of Jared Lee Loughner, who did succeed in killing six other people, including a federal judge and nine-year-old bystander, she recorded her own video message after Fox refused her airtime, accusing the media of a "blood libel" and releasing the video on Vimeo the very day of a memorial service for Loughner's victims.
Why bother to call her out when last month she endorsed waterboarding Muslim terrorists as an introduction to their captivity.  "Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists," she spouted in conflating torture with a Christian sacrament.
"In the end, this story is not about Palin," wrote Andrew Sullivan, who virtually alone among bloggers with large audiences pursued the birth hoax story and continues to call her out.  "It's about the collapse of the press and the corrupt cynicism of a political system that foisted this farce upon  us without performing any minimal due diligence."
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Click here for "Five Years On: Why The Sarah Palin Birth Hoax Story Still Shouldn't Go Away." 
Photograph from the Huffington Post

1 comment:

Mark DesLauriers said...

"It's about the collapse of the press".

You said it all in half of one sentence. Although Palin is a fine example of this, there are far too many more examples of the failure of the press or news out there. You could write a column a day on the subject but until mainstream news changes its stripes little is going to change. It's no longer news "It's just business".