What is it about Sarah Palin that scares the mainstream media? An edition of Newsweek last month, that would better be named Gossipweek, used its cover and 7 pages to bash the former Alaskan Governor mercilessly.
‘Borrowing’ a photo for its cover from a runner’s magazine Newsweek took on everything from Palin’s figure to her stance on taxes and abortion. Without shame Christopher Hitchens writes: "Let’s admit that Sarah Palin is more attractive – some might want to say more appealing – than much of her enraged core constituency." Well, that’s certainly news. Going to Governor Palin’s attractiveness is not only sexist it reminds one of what Abraham Lincoln once said: "if I had two faces would I wear this one?" What constitutes physical attractiveness in a candidate of either gender?
Sarah scares them because she can win. Sarah Louise Palin can be elected President of the United States despite the antagonism of the main stream media.
There are 3 precedents in the 20th century that set this pace. Two of them Democrats. There’s the bourbon belting, gambling, piano player from Missouri, Harry Truman. In an infamous edition of the Chicago Tribune Tom Dewey was reported to have defeated him. The Irish-Catholic, prescription laden, playboy John Kennedy, ran with his war record using the new political media of his day: television. Then there’s the guy who made movies with a monkey, ransacked a Georgia peanut farmer in televised debates and stormed Washington in a way it hadn’t seen since Franklin Roosevelt: Ronald Reagan.
What’s the common thread between them? All were dismissed by the media as they began to campaign in mid-term elections. According to the editorial minds of the time they were lightweights, unworthy of holding the nation’s highest office. Yet, a half term US Senator, the current President, is the darling of whatever is printed, no matter his failures.
The difference in the 21st century is the collapse of the mainstream media. Newsweek’s advertising support is pathetic and newspapers across the country, loaded with the irrelevant opinions of their editors and reporters, are in bankruptcy. The technology of campaigning, brilliantly advanced by the Obama campaign, gives candidates direct access to voters without the anachronistic annoyances of magazine or newspaper endorsements.
Through the latter half of the 20th century mainstream media reigned supreme. Unparalleled profits and exorbitant advertising rates have closed in on them. Many are valiantly trying to reinvent themselves. Newsweek has done a singularly bad job at this but others, especially community based newspapers are trying. The nimble ones will succeed.
In the meantime Governor Palin will continue to twitter, facebook and text to her fans. Someday the new media of the 21st century may take her all the way to the Oval office.
Albert Paschall is Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a non-profit educational foundation with offices in Harrisburg and King Of Prussia. Somedays is syndicated to leading newspapers and radio stations in Pennsylvania. [email protected]
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