We know how the mainstream media piles on Sarah Palin. It’s the industry’s obsession when it’s not covering missing planes, New Jersey bridge closings, and binders full of women.
Now, we’re seeing a new attack on the former Alaska governor, and it’s coming from an unexpected source: conservative media.
Palin had it coming, to a degree. She made a speech in Iowa last week, and she fantastically flubbed a metaphor after an alleged teleprompter hiccup. It’s ugly on the ears: “The man can only ride you when your back is bent … so strengthen it! Then the man can’t ride you, America won’t get taken for a ride, because so much is at stake.”
Plus, her delivery focused too much on her own battles with the press and not enough about her party’s future.
Was it the first time a politician gave a speech that left a sour taste? Hardly. It happens all the time, even to a supposedly gifted orator like President Obama. Yet several large conservative outlets pounced on the moment as if to say, “See, she’s really the caricature our chums on the Left were telling us all along … now, go watch HBO’s ‘Game Change.’”
Kicking the Lady When She’s Down
Consider how TheBlaze.com focused on Palin’s gaffe both in a headline and via the story itself: “What Sarah Palin Did in Iowa Left Democrats Saying Two Words: ‘Thank You!’”
The story could have led with some Palin-approved red meat or a positive message before getting to the gaffe du jour. Instead, the author focused on the DNC’s glee:
What could Sarah Palin possible say that would leave Democrats saying, ‘Thank you’?
Quite a few things, it turns out.
The Daily Caller also pounced with the sort of click-bait headline meant to undermine Palin as a figure of consequence: “Sarah Palin Was Back In Iowa And She Said What?”
Sarah Palin should give all the campaign speeches she possibly can in her possible run for president.
First and foremost: She needs to keep trying out lots of new inspirational metaphors. It doesn’t matter how dumb they sound. The more the merrier.
Daily Caller writer Betsy Rothstein went further, tying the moment to Palin’s interview with Katie Couric during the 2008 presidential race.
Much like CNN’s Newt Gingrich, Palin likes to trash the media for what she perceives is the ‘lamestream media’ making her look like an idiot. But it’s hard to forget her interactions with the media, most poignantly her interview with Katie Couric, which quickly became an unforgettable SNL parody.
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York, an august member of the conservative media class, filed a report entitled, “As 2016 race begins, GOP faces its Palin problem.” The Examiner separately ran a piece describing how grassroots bloggers also are stepping off the Palin bandwagon.
The headline on a new National Review piece speaks volumes: “Sarah Palin Slips Into Self-Parody.”
Sarah Palin Deserves Better
Maybe there’s some truth to the commentary. Palin could be rusty from being out of direct political matters. Perhaps her fiery rhetoric does have a shelf life or needs to be modulated as the 2016 presidential race draws near. And her decision to quit as Alaska’s governor remains a key stumbling block for any major aspirations.
Still, her bond with Tea Party members is undeniable. She’s fought hard for GOP candidates over the past few years and is willing to counter-punch when attacked unfairly from the Left. Other GOP members often slink away and accept the faulty premise at work.
She also is known for her swift social media retorts. That matters at a time when a well-timed quip can go viral, and the GOP needs all the social media warriors it can snare.
Surely those measures, plus an understanding of how brutal mainstream reporters have been to her through the years, should earn her a bit more support among conservative outlets.
Should Palin run for the White House in 2016 we’ll see the most unfair, wildly imbalanced media coverage the annals of journalism. The media’s track record toward Palin makes that abundantly clear. It’s not every day major news outlets asks readers for help finding gotcha content, as The Washington Post and The New York Times did against Palin.
Nor does the Associated Press make it a habit of assigning 11 fact checkers to political biographers, as it did with Palin’s 2009 book, “Going Rogue.”
Yet the strongest body blows she’ll face in the months ahead could come from her own party.