Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Palin's Nixon-esque Epiphany: The Media Does Not Play Nice

While I was caught up with Gates-gate, something else was happening that I wanted to expand upon but did not have the time: Sarah Palin's abrupt departure from the governorship of Alaska. While bizarre by itself - as someone who constantly touted her executive experience leading the state on the campaign trail with John McCain last year - her parting words were very similar to another embarrassment for the Republican Party.

When Richard Nixon lost his bid for the governorship of California in 1962, he gave what he deemed his "last press conference," telling the media that they won't have "Nixon to kick around anymore." He hoped that his words would make "the press recognize that they have a right and responsibility to, that if they're against a candidate, to give him the shaft, but also recognize that if they give him the shaft, put one lonely reporter on the campaign who will report what the candidate says now and then." We all know that this was not Nixon's last press conference, and he went on to win the presidency of the United States, and then tarnished the office like no one else could.

Contrast Nixon's "last press conference" with Palin's "last press conference." She stated, "You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why -- that’s why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin’ things up." So the formula for the fake last press conference goes as follows: tell the press what their job/responsibility is, and then cry foul for being personally attacked by the media. It sounds like Palin thinks she got shafted like Nixon.

But Palin's criticisms of the media is akin to the boy crying wolf. Remember back in October when she tried to say that the media was infringing upon her right to free speech? Comments like that tend to illegitimize one's views on a particular subject. Did Palin get a bum rap in the media? Sure. The real question is, did she deserve it? The way I see it, the media just did the majority of the vetting that McCain's campaign neglected to do. Were some of the media's things wrong? Sure. The last thing I would have done is publish a story that said that the governor's newborn was her daughter's unless I was 110% sure it was true. Hurtful? You bet. But again, and I'm not saying that Palin was asking for it, because it was way out of line, but did Palin think that the media was going to play fair?

I mean, come on, this is a country which has produced Rush Limbaugh as a figurehead of the Republican Party. A person who plays "Barack the Magic Negro" on his show, a person who says that he hopes the Commander-in-Chief fails, who goes through wives like underwear and who gets away with illegal drug transactions by paying the DA's office, is one of the most influential media elites. Bill O'Reilly, someone who pays off a former employee after sexually harrassing her. Hell, G. Gordon Liddy has a nationally syndicated radio program. And Palin brought her family (which was in turmoil) into this company, thinking the media had a code of conduct?

Unfortunately, it just seems to be the nature of the game. It's almost like a rite of passage. McCain went through it in 2000, Obama sure as hell went through it (they had to dig as deep as Rashid Khalidi - seriously?). Palin went through it, as well. So while Palin may have a point in that she was not treated well by the media (for justified and unjustified reasons), to say that it was unfair is a bit much, as the media tried to dig up as much as possible on everyone (remember George Stephanopoulos' question about Ayers that was fed to him by Sean Hannity?). Hell, we're having a debate during one of the most trying times in America about where Barack Obama was born. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad.

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Is the media messed up? Of course. Have I done too many question and answer phrases in this post? Absolutely. But the one thing about the media is this: by debasing everybody in order to get more viewers and ad revenue (you think O'Reilly's $9 million salary pays for itself?) it puts everyone on an even playing field. Sure, that playing field may be extremely muddy and a crappy one to play on, but everyone's on it. So Palin's right, the media does not play nice, but by selling out and sensationalizing everything, in a sense one could say that they play fair. And besides, America already fell for the whole "silent majority" and "I'm being unfairly targeted as a bad person" thing with Tricky Dick Nixon. And if you think we're going to fall for that again because we'd rather focus on an already debunked rumor than the issues and what this nation really needs, well, then you might be in the right spot (provided you can prove beyond your birth certificate, local newspapers, governors, and non-partisan fact checkers that you were born here). Peace.

Photo - Palin resigns (Esquire)


  1. Back in September 2008, we saw her wagging her finger at Hillary Clinton, that Hillary should not whine about tough media coverage, she was not doing women any good, she should just plow through it, she should have known what she was getting into and should just try harder and prove herself. “WOW”, I guess she loves measuring others by standards that she does not follow. What a hypocrite, but expected from most political false prophets types. I guess all other “lame duck” governors should take her lead and quit (cut and run). Thank you for leading by example.

  2. Great post and comparison to Nixon. Certainly Palin received her fair share of media criticism, some warranted, others not. But, for her to sit there and act like she's the only one who was publicly scrutinized is ridiculous.

    My only objection would be your phrasing of Rush Limbaugh as a "figurehead of the Republican party". I wouldn't exactly call him a figurehead, more like an unofficial spokesman who happens to think he is speaking on behalf of his party. Yes, he spoke at the CPAC this year, but I still wouldn't go as far to say he's a figurehead because anyone in their right mind sees him for what he is: a shock-jock on par with Dennis and Callahan.

    Unless I totally missed it and you were being sarcastic.. then yes, I agree.