Palin's Enemies List: Lashes Out At The Media, Bloggers, And SNL Writers
During the months that she served as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin had what could best be described as an acrimonious relationship with the press. Thrust into the national spotlight from relative political obscurity, the former Alaska Governor saw her professional record and personal story come under a powerful microscope. And as controversy was exposed and questions were raised, the animosity that Palin felt for the fourth estate became nearly all-consuming.
In her upcoming book, "Going Rogue," the former governor spends ample time airing her grievances with the way she was and continues to be treated by the media. The cast of characters she disparages range from the famous to the obscure, the national to the local - all of whom are accused of either peddling scandal or playing out political vendettas.
At one point in the book, Palin recalls ridiculing Hillary Clinton for complaining about her treatment in the press. "I wasn't really accusing her of whining," Palin writes. "Still, before criticizing her on this point, I should have walked a mile in her shoes. I can see now that she had every right to call the media on biased treatment that ended up affecting her candidacy. In fact, I should have applauded her because she was right..."
The animosity wasn't always there, as Palin writes. As governor of Alaska she had what she described as a "fine relationship" with the media - even offering up her personal cell phone number to local reporters. But a move from the statehouse to the campaign trail brought with it more critical coverage and a much larger pool or reporters. From the onset, things were rocky.
Palin writes with disgust that the "tone some reporters (and many bloggers) seemed to want to set was one of 'hypocrisy.'" Calling those who questioned the circumstances of her daughter's pregnancy "Trig truthers," she scoffs at the bloggers who, if they "weren't busy pushing fairy tales, would post threatening stories about any number of looming scandals that would drive me out of office."
Mostly, she recoils at the fourth estate's supposed sanctimoniousness. "I was amazed at how many liberal pundits seemed floored by a pregnant teenager," she writes, "as if overnight they'd all snuck out and had traditional-values transplants."
From there, Palin accuses various outlets, including the Huffington Post, of mischaracterizing her appearance at the Wasilla Assembly of God church, in which she called the war in Iraq "a task from God."
She even bemoans the writers at Saturday Night Live for having bad taste.
"I looked at the script," she writes of the preparation for her appearance on the show. "It wasn't all that funny. SNL writers had taken the campaign's 'Drill, baby, drill' mantra and turned it into a risqué double entendre about Todd and me. I thought, Nah. C'mon, New York talent, we can do better than that."
The toughest words, in the end, are saved for Katie Couric, the CBS anchor whose interviews with Palin became a major embarrassment for the McCain campaign. As Palin writes:
"Though Katie edited out substantive answers, she dutifully kept in the moments where I wore my annoyance on my sleeve.... There was much Katie appeared not to know, or care to hear about."
"But Katie wasn't interested in discussing these issues. And when I did, she didn't air them. Instead, when I tried to describe frequent Russian incursions by figuratively referring to Vladimir Putin entering our airspace, CBS researched the Russian leader's actual flight over the United States and called my statement inaccurate. And when I referenced Alaska's narrow maritime border to describe our close proximity to other nations, CBS reported that the Coast Guard monitored the border and not the governor."
"But Katie's purpose - shared by most media types - seemed to be to frame a 'gotcha' moment. And it worked. Instead of my scoring points for John McCain, I knew that I had let the team down."
"I don't think she really wanted to hear my answer because she interrupted me five times as I tried to give it. The badgering had begun. This is really annoying me, I thought. Then she asked me about abortion and the morning-after pill twelve times. Twelve different times."
"I answered as graciously and as patiently as I could. Each time, I reiterated my pro-life, pro-woman, pro-adoption position. But no matter how many ways I tried to say it, Katie responded by asking her question again in a slightly different way. I began to feel like I was in the movie Groundhog Day."
Palin's anger towards Couric became so consuming that even when recounting a wholly different campaign controversy -- the $150,000 in clothes purchased for her by the RNC -- she felt compelled to go back and take a swipe at the CBS anchor.
Katie Couric even weighed in on the trumped-up 'controversy,' writing: 'There aren't a lot of Joe Six-packs out there who can drop six figures on a new wardrobe, so Gov. Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree seems excessive to some people."
This is especially ironic coming from Katie, whose own stylists, the B Team was told, was part of the team the campaign hired to do the convention shopping before I even arrived.
The end of the campaign did not bring with it an end to the frosty relationship between Palin and the press. There was, for example, the interview she did with the local television station KTUU for a routine Thanksgiving Day story
The station, Palin writes in her book, "set up an odd camera angle to capture turkeys being decapitated behind me... The photographer couldn't post it to the Web fast enough. The video became an instant YouTube hit."
"Now, I'd be the first person to tell you where your Thanksgiving meal comes from," Palin adds. But this was a deliberate move to make some noise."
Then there was the coverage of the various ethics complaints filed against her. Palin writes of reporters from the "lower 48" essentially stalking her daughter Piper on her walk home from Harborview Elementary School. She claims journalists were camping out "at the end of our driveway in Wasilla and on the ice in front of our home," and "incessantly call[ing] and stop[ping] by my parents' and siblings' and in-laws' homes and businesses."
The relationship, of course, is a two-way street. And to this day, the former Alaska Governor has not given a public news conference since being tapped as the vice presidential candidate. Palin, in "Going Rogue," proclaims that it was McCain campaign operatives who restricted her availability. "It got so bad," she writes, "that a couple of times I had a friend in Anchorage track down phone numbers for me, and then I snuck in calls to folks like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and someone I thought was Larry Kudlow but turned out to be Neil Cavuto's producer."
But, even then, the disdain she felt for the media -- whose coverage she described as "pathetic and chilling" -- was entirely obsessive.
"Perhaps the national press outlets just don't have the resources anymore to devote to balanced coverage," she writes at one point. "Perhaps they've all just given up on themselves, so we've given up on them, too, except to treat their shoddy reporting like a car crash -- sometimes you just have to look."