"Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story".......or so, the line goes.
Well, that quote applies perfectly to "The Sarah Palin Story." It's a media-generated, media-hyped story that doesn't correspond with realities on the ground.
So, for instance, while you'd expect the release of Palin's new book this week to draw coverage,
the disturbing part is we're being bombarded with images and stories about Palin that suggest far more than a book release is going on. The two underlying premises to the Palin story are:
A) That Palin is one of the most compelling, important figures in American politics today, and, B) That Palin is a serious, potential presidentidal candidate in 2012.
The only problem: There are many facts that severely undercut both these premises, making the coverage of Palin story, really, in the end -----all about attracting higher TV ratings.
Palin has done nothing to prove she is an important figure in American politics -- unless you consider her capacity to attract media coverage some kind of "accomplishment." I certainly don't. I've seen too many people - like Oliver North, or, Ross Perot - generate enormous media coverage (as "potential leaders") that was undeserved. Further, in 2008, the most dramatic way she distinguished herself as a vice presidential candidate was in displaying how unqualified she was to serve as VP or president.
The big thing no network tells you is that when Sarah Palin is covered, she consistently attracts good ratings. She creates a "buzz.' When a former politician or entertainer or anyone draws ratings, he or she is likely to be covered in any way possible as often as possible. That's why we keep seeing Palin's face on TV even when there is NO news or no relative importance to what she's doing. No one on television ever discusses this "market research" that drives their decisions about what to cover.
Of course, one reason Palin draws ratings is that she's good-looking - and, again, this is, unsurprisingly, viewed as more significant than the content of what she's saying. By the way, can anyone identify a few important ways that Palin has contributed ideas to our country's public policy agenda since she emerged on the scene in August, 2008 as McCain's "surprise" VP candidate? I cannot think of any Palin contributions. (I've read that while she was governor, Alaska did a few good things in the area of energy, but, even with that, I don't recall being able to conclude she had offered some original idea or proposal).
In fact, I think on can argue that the only way Palin deserves another shot on the national stage is is she pays a lot of dues first. If she had remained as governor, let's say, and learned a lot about national issues and foreign policy and traveled the world for eight or ten years - to the point that she could speak with far more knowledge and experience, well, then, she'd be in a totally different position, wouldn't she?
The reality is, however, that even though Palin's most salient action since Nov. 2008 was to quit as governor of Alaska before her term ended, she's been in the news or discussed on political talk shows A LOT. Now, with Palin appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Barbara Walters" and others, both network news and cable news/entertainment stations are on a HIGH. It's been all Palin - all the time.
Meanwhile, Palin's history as a vice presidential candidate remains what it was: She ran a very poor campaign and, by objective measures, appeared strikingly unqualified. She repeatedly spoke about issues with a striking lack of facts, background or context. She answered questions in nationally televised interviews in embarrassing fashion.
She repeatedly attacked candidate Barack Obama in a reckless, ugly way, saying things like "He's pal-ling around with terrorists" (referring to Obama's acquaintance with Bill Ayers) She inexusably, repeatedly questioned Obama's patriotism.
Then, after the campaign. Palin complained and whined about how McCain's camp had treated her. We kept hearing about her daughter, Bristol's, baby and her fiancee, Levi Johston. We heard about how "Levi said this" and "Levi said that" Who cares?
In the meantime, the news media kept spouting the same crap: "Will Sarah run in 2012?"
"She's an exciting figure"........What will her impact be?" Palin's resignation as governor had zero impact on the speculation and discussion about her future.
I still just don't get it. Do any producers or executive producers who run political talk shows on television or radio even care about the truth anymore? Does it matter that Palin was a BAD candidate for vice president? What will it take for you to STOP covering Sarah Palin so much?
Palin told Oprah yesterday that a run for president in 2012 was "not on my radar screen." Gee, I wonder it that would slow the coverage down?
Last night, I heard CNN report that in a recent poll, 70 percent of the American people said they didn't think Palin was qualified to be President. Does that matter to the top producers of the infotainment we see on TV every night? No, that's no problem. Who cares if Palin is unqualified and most people believe she's unqualified? Let's keep putting her name and face out there!!!
What I find so disturbing is that some people confuse media coverage of a person with that person's authentic contributions. So, some who keep seeing Palin's image conclude: "Wow, that Palin is really important. She must have certain qualities I don't see if the TV people think she's worth covering so much..."
Things have gotten so blurred in this country: The media creates someone or some story and then comments on the person or story as if they have nothing to do with the media.
Look at the "balloon boy" story. The news media went totally bonkers over the story, then, when questions arose about it being a hoax, the media began covering that without mentioning that their crazy, reckless initial coverage of the balloon is what MADE the story!!! If a news executive had restrained its producers from reporting on the balloon until it was verified that a boy was in the balloon, there would have been NO STORY.
So, last night, when I heard Larry King refer to the "Sarah Palin phenomenon," it made me sick. Who believes there is a "Sarah Palin phenomenon"? Who is continuing to fan the flames of that "phenomenon"?
Only the television executives -and the Larry Kings of the world - who want to keep their ratings high. I've seen no evidence of the "Palin phenomenon" outside in Massachusetts today.
You know what's funny? When I watched Palin on "Oprah," yesterday, she seemed more relaxed, and, a bit more likeable than I think I've seen her in all other appearances. Maybe it was because she was NOT a candidate for high office, but, just conversing, as a citizen.
If only Palin could make a Shermanesque statement saying she'll never - ever - run for President. Maybe that'd slow the coverage a bit?
Who am I kidding? Even that wouldn't stop "The Palin Story," a Media Phenomenon.
I post opinions at least once a week here. Often I write about politics or media coverage of politics -- two subjects I have followed closely for more than 30 years.