Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are Sarah Palin's Pratfalls Newsworthy?

In his "Politico: Yes, Palin degrades our discourse, but she drives traffic" column at The Washington Post, Greg Sargent wrote, couching his statement in an "admission" by Politico, that "Frivolous items about Sarah Palin do degrade our discourse, but we need to do them, because the simple fact is that people click on them in droves." He was writing about Politico's article, "The Age of Rage," which, although it hardly mentioned Palin, did make some trenchant observations about political news coverage:
Obama put it best earlier this year, after Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “you lie” during the president's State of the Union speech. "The easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude,” the president told ABC News.

Indeed, at first Wilson seemed embarrassed and apologized for his outburst. But within days, Wilson and his opponent were both flooded with campaign contributions; Wilson took in more than $700,000 in the immediate aftermath of his outburst and was a guest of honor on Hannity’s show and Fox News Sunday.

It’s a well-traveled path: Flamethrowers Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) join Wilson on the list of Top 10 House fundraisers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

At POLITICO, we have an unusual vantage point on this new reality. We are both an enabler (in the eyes of some critics) of the deterioration of political discourse, and a target of it (as we try to defend our values as neutral journalists amid constant criticism from activists who think we fail at neutrality or are disdainful of the goal in the first place).

There is some truth on both counts. Like all news sites, we are aware that conflict clicks. More traffic comes from an item on Sarah Palin’s “refudiation” faux pas than from our hundreds of stories on the complexities of health care reform or Wall Street regulation.
Sargent's post followed his recent post, "Sarah Palin plays media for chumps," which recalled another Politico story, "The Sarah Palin-media co-dependency."

I don't know what the question is, let alone the answer. Most news organizations are businesses, but so is The NY Times, which rarely runs Palin "news." Are loud-mouthed politicians rare birds in the sense that they're honestly expressing what they think and, so, worthy of a lot of coverage?

Politico states that they're driven by clicks; Sargent seems to agree and states that that is the reason stories about Sarah Palin's pratfalls need to be covered.


Joie Vouet said...

I do think a lot of the stories are newsworthy, because they reinforce the idea that Sarah isn't serious. That Politico gets a lot of clicks from the stories doesn't bother me.

It's a very important development that Sarah is showing up more often in the entertainment/gossip news. There was even a "serious" ABC story yesterday that ran a photoshopped picture of Sarah Palin with Kate Gosselin.

Politico seems to carry water for Palin at times. They do get a lot of criticism from both sides of the aisle, though.

Joie Vouet said...

Speaking of Palin stories that may or may not generate page hits, Andrew Sullivan has written about blogging and the Trig birth controversy:

All I can say is that this is my understanding of the place of blogging - a conversation where nothing is forbidden, a zone of truly free speech, exercized responsibly, but open to any and all views and theories and questions. I don't think I'm partisan on this. Elena Kagan can testify to that.

I don't believe Palin's current story. But since I don't have the facts and sources to construct an alternative, my task is now over. I will stay vigilant for any and all new facts that we may get; and I sure won't let this go if more comes to light. But we're going around in circles now.

It is a fact that it is a possibility that Sarah gave birth to Trig.

Anonymous said...

Shannyn Moore and Jeanne Devon have talked about Trig's birth at netroots.

They talk about the importance of Sarah's wild ride. Shannyn says it is better than all the other stories, because Sarah doesn't refudiate it. Shannyn says all the sites obsessing over Trig's birth are helping her. Her point seems to be that there are better, easier ways to take Sarah down.

Joie Vouet said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment, and here is a clickable link to Shannyn Moore and Jeanne Devon talking about Sarah Palin's "Wild Ride".

I am listening now and will comment on it later.

Joie Vouet said...

My opinion after seeing Shannyn Moore's interview ...

There is something about the "Wild Ride:" Sarah has a propensity to exagerate, to tell tall tales. The story might be pleasing to someone who has accepted the rugged frontierswoman narrative that Sarah has tried to establish (has established?). Even someone new to the story might be impressed. But Shannyn has a point about it being a damning story for Sarah, if you consider it a story of her poor judgement: It would have been better for everyone involved if she had seen a Dr. in Texas. Whether the "Wild Ride" is a true story can be debated, but Shannyn did say that it should be accepted as truth (Sarah hasn't "refudiated" it), because it raises questions about Sarah's judgement.

I agree about the doubts on Trig's birth helping Sarah, but helping her with her fans. She has a medieval relationship with her fans, like the relationship between a Queen and her Knights, so whenever anyone doubts the Queen's veracity the Knights are quick to rally to her defense. In that sense it helps Sarah.

On the "evidence" that Sarah wasn't pregnant, I can only say that the pictures represent a very small percentage of the time that Sarah claims to have been pregnant. We should ask for more information about the pictures; for example, camera information, lens information, distances, angles, etc. Have you seen the difference between a picture of something taken with a telephoto lens and a wide angle lens? They can render depth quite differently.

The biggest problem may be that it is difficult to prove that someone didn't do something. It is one of the reasons for presumption of innocence. Imaging being charged with bank robbery and having to go into court to prove that you didn't rob the bank.

I do think that many of those claiming to know the truth about the story may be charlatans. If they won't consider the possibility that Sarah gave birth to Trig, or even that someone other than Bristol gave birth to him, they have closed minds. I say that in the sense that even if they're convinced that Sarah faked the pregnancy, but won't admit the possibility that they're wrong, then they are charlatans, simply because they don't have all the facts yet claim to "know."

I don't know whether Sarah gave birth to Trig. I suppose I am one of the lucky ones.

Anonymous said...

Do you care?

Joie Vouet said...

Anonymous, the "going in circles," as Sullivan put it, is what I don't care for. It would be good to resolve all the questions concerning Trig's birth, but there are other, more fruitful, issues with Palin, so I think there are more opportunities for success exploring those.

nswfm said...

The NY Times needs to be taken with a grain of salt after the Judith Miller/Valerie Plame story, the inability to state the facts clearly with regard to ACORN:

I've worked with the media and although the story doesn't always get reported accurately, this is malfeasance in my opinion, given the latest bull from Breitbart and a woman losing her job because he wasn't called out on the lies beforehand.

Kinda like $Palin.....

rj said...

At you can see "Muting the Mommy Melodrama." I'm off to a bomb shelter..back when the dust clears.

Joie Vouet said...

nswfm, I agree that the Times' handling of the Plame story and the story during the run-up to the war were atrocious. Both were reported by Judy Miller, if I remember correctly.

Here are clickable links to the Brad Blog stories: NYT story 'Troubling and disturbing ... Why NY Times should fire Clark Hoyt ... Not interested in Breitbart's latest scam.


Rj, I can deflect the bombs with the push of a button! ended the Obama birth cert. controversy. LoLz. Should we discredit them on Sarah's story? Make them liars and help those trying to discredit factcheck's research into Obama's birth cert?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, you make no sense at all.

Joie Vouet said...

You'd might make more sense if you told us who's not making sense, anonymous 5:22.

Anonymous said...

jmho. getting stuck on a 2 yr old story can't be good 4 anyone's mental health.

Joie Vouet said...

Good night, everyone.

snowbilly said...

I agree with Jeanne Devon that people (Palin critics) can get cast in the light of being a kook/nutcase when they're associated with a site focused on babygate. A reason why I started the blog was Palingates' obsession with it, but they have been trying to broaden what they post about. IM has always had an interest in a lot of other issues + non-palin political stories + unmatched snark. I stopped commenting at palingaates when patrick & kathleen became upset in the comments about a Hugo Chaves story at Mudflats, and a lot of them went over there to demand credit for the story, as though it had been lifted from palingates. Someone once came over here to accuse me of stealing the idea of the roundup from theirs. I was doing them before palingates, and their's is awful self-referential, as though there is nothing newsworthy outside palingates. Palingates should work at being a better net citizen. They could start by stopping spamming/hijacking everyone else's work. The blog's management encourages it, so it's not entirely the fault of their readers

Anonymous said...

Hey snowbilly, do you know palingates took you off their blogroll?

snowbilly said...

anon @ 1:41 -- Yeah, but it is not a big deal. Traffic from palingates was a small part of the blog's traffic. More people came from google search than from there.

We unlinked them some time ago, because it seemed to have become a forum where people went to vent/unload on Palin (and her friends/relatives!). Those were commenters, and not all of them were venters. That sort of negativity is detrimental to the cause. People need to keep their wits about them by staying rational and unemotional about Palin. Some, not all, palingates commenters are so emotionally involved that they might forget to vote!

Joie Vouet said...

LoLz. Has everyone vented?