Friday, November 14, 2008

Was Sarah Palin The Victim Of Biased Media?

Now that deconstructing the Palin candidacy has become a kind of national pastime, the question of liberal media bias keeps coming up. Did the media treat her unfairly? I think not.

In dealing with the media during my career, I came away with the certainty that most reporters and journalists tend to be lazy in their craft, but they do NOT tend to be stupid. For a journalist, conducting a personal interview is hard under any circumstances, but especially when the person being interviewed plays difficult with the game. Avoidance tactics like using spin to dodge questions is always considered part of the process, and while it offends the lazy component in the interviewer, making them need to work harder to get a straight answer, it is generally accepted as part of the job. But when a person grants an interview to get media exposure, and then flat-out refuses to answer any and all questions, sometimes by totally changing the subject, it offends the intellectual component of the interviewer. This is the essence of the Palin problem and her treatment by the media. Given the choice of being seen as devious, or being seen as ignorant, Sarah Palin wisely chose to be devious in most of her interviews. It masked the fact that she is ignorant about a great many subjects, and not subjects that are inconsequential. Supreme Court decisions and Foreign Policy doctrines in a time of war are things that should be on the mind of a person seeking the nation’s second highest office. Put simply, Sarah just doesn’t know a lot of stuff. After a while, the media tired of her game where every question was dismissed as a “gotcha” question, unworthy of an answer. Eventually, the majority of the voters tired of it too.

There was further evidence of a lack of deep substance in her non-verbal performance as well. Striding onto a public stage while winking and blowing kisses and pointing a finger to give recognition to special people in the audience— these are characteristics of outright flirtation, not of professional personal presentation. This is the way that Oprah enters the studio set on her television program because Oprah is a TV personality. The thing of it is, if Oprah was walking onto a stage to participate in a vice-presidential debate, Oprah would present herself like Madeline Albright or Margaret Thatcher, because Oprah is smart enough to know that the American people want more than a flirtatious TV personality in a high national office with a lot of power.

So, was the media unfair to Sarah Palin? The media was simply being logical. If it looks like fluff, and it moves like fluff, and it sounds like fluff, and it acts like fluff— then it probably is nothing but fluff.

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