Sarah Palin’s Media War
September 6, 2008
Source: The Swamp
Not since Spiro Agnew took on the “nattering nabobs of negativism” has a presidential running mate stood so ready to wage a media war.
Sarah Palin, with her shots across the bow of the mainstream media in her hugely popular acceptance speech in St. Paul this week, has opened a floodgate of media-bashing. At the same time, her initial reluctance to field questions from the media raises questions of how insular a vice presidential nominee can possibly remain
“I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment.,” Palin told the delegates of the Republican National Convention and a national television audience of 37 milliion people — just a notch behind the viewership that Republican John McCain and Barack Obama drew for their acceptance speeches. “And I’ve learned quickly these last few days that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.”
(Boo, reads the transcript).
“Now here’s a little news flash,” Palin added. “Here’s a little news flash for those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this great country.
(Cheers, applause, chanting, transcript reads.)
“Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason,” Palin said, “and not just to mingle with the right people.”
Now, it’s not so much a question of mingling with the media powers as it is answering their questions. On this forum alone, we’ve seen comments today suggesting that nobody cares if Palin talks to the media. But it isn’t the media to whom she is talking when she answers reporters’ questions. It is the public whom she is addressing.
And we’ve seen before a candidate’s fortunes sink when he couldn’t answer the simplest of questions: When retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former European supreme allied commander, took to the presidential campaign trail in 2004, he was foiled by a few reporters asking him what he would have done on the use of military force in iraq.
At some point, certainly, Palin will answer reporters’ questions, and the public will be the better-informed for it.
In the meantime, a candidate can hide behind speechwriters, as Agnew was doing when he addressed the California Republican state convention in San Diego in 1970. He said, “In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.'”
The words came from a wordsmith, William Safire, later columnist for The New York Times, then a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and Agnew.
Palin’s words this week came from other wordsmiths, and she delivered them powerfully. Still, at some point, a candidate must find her own words.