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On Palin (not) meeting the press


Sarah Palin -- once again -- is in the news.

She is set to attend an Iowa Republican dinner on Sept. 17. The candidate she endorsed for Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, beat Lisa Murkowski. And now comes a very unflattering Vanity Fair piece on Palin. The article, citing mostly anonymous sources, describes Palin's temper, her quest for privacy, and her new money-making empire.

But the most striking -- and relevant -- part to me was the piece's acknowledgment how Palin is able to constantly make news, even though she's unwilling to answer follow-up questions from anyone but friendly news organizations. And the "Lame Stream" media she despises eats it up.

In accordance with the terms of a reported $1 million annual contract with Fox News, Palin regularly delivers canned commentary on that network. But in the year since she abruptly resigned the governorship of Alaska, in order to market herself full-time—earning an estimated $13 million in the process—she has submitted to authentic, unpaid interviews with only a handful of journalists, none of whom have posed notably challenging questions. She keeps tight control of her pronouncements, speaking only in settings of her own choosing, with audiences of her own selection, and with reporters kept at bay. (Despite many requests, neither Palin nor her current staff would comment for this article.) She injects herself into the news almost every day, but on a strictly one-way basis, through a steady stream of messages on Twitter and Facebook. The press plays along. Palin is the only politician whose tweets are regularly reported as news by TV networks. She is the only one who has been able to significantly change the course of debate on a major national issue (health-care reform) with a single Facebook posting (in which she accused the Obama administration, falsely, of wanting to set up a “death panel”).

Just to let you readers know: This blog recently made it a practice not to uncritically report on Palin's Facebook or Twitter messages, unless there's an extraordinary reason to.