Sarah Palin Blows the Whistle On A Classic Media Bias Trick

After Sarah Palin, during a televised interview, said North Korea when she meant South Korea (me, I always mix up North and South Carolina)—an obvious slip of the tongue, since she had correctly identified our ally among the Koreas previously in the same interview, multiple media reports decided the gaffe was newsworthy, or at least another opportunity to show the American public that the former Alaska governor is, as they believe, an idiot. Palin, who is nothing if not feisty, took to the New Media with a Facebook post pointing out that equally egregious flubs out of the mouth of President Obama had been ignored, and listed some of them, including the time Obama raised the number of states to 57, momentarily confusing them with ketchup.

Good for her. No American politician in recent memory has been so outrageously victimized by media double standards and bias, and Palin was the perfect messenger to point the finger at this long-standing and despicable weapon in the journalist’s bias and favoritism arsenal.  Few beneficiaries of the practice will ever condemn it, of course (one courageous exception: Virginia Senator Jim Webb ), and the cries of outrage from Fox News commentators are strategically ignored by the mainstream media perpetrators so they can be categorized as the right wing defending its own (stupid) heroes. All politicians making the rounds of endless interviews and speeches make mistakes, but usually only the mistakes of politicians the news media want to caricature as dummies are routinely derided. Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, George W. Bush and now Palin have been favorite targets, because every mis-spoken phrase or fact supports a media agenda of discrediting conservatives.

It’s really pretty clever, when you think about it. A Palin gaffe is “news” that the public “has a right to know,”  because it “proves” she’s incompetent. An Obama gaffe, however, proves nothing, since everybody knows he’s “brilliant,” so it isn’t newsworthy—just a verbal mistake, like a hiccup or a burp. And what were the odds that one of the politicians so abused would actually cry foul, and prove the foul by listing Presidential errors that were shrugged away? The odds just changed.

Whatever Palin’s flaws, being a patsy and a passive victim are not among them. No fair person can deny that she is in the right this time, and if there are any editors with integrity any more, and I have begun to doubt it, they may consider retiring the selective reporting trick. Finally, one of the targets won’t play by the old rules and it is about time.

They might also consider apologizing.

P.S. That goes for Fox, too. You can’t make fun of Joe Biden’s verbal howlers every day and ignore Sarah’s, though I have to admit, Joe’s are usually funnier.

 

13 thoughts on “Sarah Palin Blows the Whistle On A Classic Media Bias Trick

  1. Did multiple media reports really make a deal of her slip of the tongue? I watch and read a bunch, and the only mention I’ve seen is by Sarah herself and by Fox. Could this be just an excuse for another attack on the media?

    • Well, I wasn’t really looking, and I saw or heard it it on Politico, The Daily Beast, the ABC website, and MSNBC. If this was the first time this kind of thing had been done to Palin, you might have a case. Slate has a feature called “Did Palin Really Say That!” I found one ABC blog that credits Palin for Tina Fey quotes. You aren’t really going to argue that she ‘s been trated anything close to fairly by the media, are you, Bob? I end up defending the woman, and I wouldn’t vote for her in any leadership position (except Vice-President!)

  2. Once I saw that on Twitter, I figured “I’ll bet that’s a slip of the tongue that’s being unfairly magnified.” The problem with things like this is that people aren’t going to trust the ‘gaffes’ that are actually disquieting, like Christine O’Donnell demonstrating she doesn’t understand the Constitution.

    • Exactly. But she is obviously not a joke, as her statements and presence gave serious consequences in the political arena and in the culture. And by what right does the media get to decide whose ideas to report fairly, and who to intentionally set out to make look bad? Martin Luther King, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan Ross Perot, Gloria Steinem and many others were dismissed as jokes by supposedly smart people—so were Tom Pain and Thomas Jeffferson, Jesus, Joan of Arc, and Gandhi. Is this really defensible reporting the media? I think not. It’s just a manifestation of arrogance, the abuse of power, and terrible journalism. I think passing a heath care bill that even now most Congress members can’t explain is a joke. I think the President playing basketball as we face a new Korean war is a joke. I certainly think Keith Olbermann being told that he compromised is objectivity is a joke. But I don’t need the media telling me what the jokes are, because, in truth, the state of fair and intelligent reporting is the real joke, except that it is not remotely funny.

      You make my point.

  3. While some may disagree with you about some of the things you call jokes, no one can fairly claim that the media are responsible: see, for example, my blog of yesterday about the Washington Post (http://ethicsbob.com/2010/11/26/who%E2%80%99s-unethical-usc-trojans-coach-lane-kiffin-or-the-washington-post/).

    If it was clear from the context that Palin’s reference to “our ally North Korea” was a slip of the tongue, then it’s irresponsible and pernicious of the media who imply that it was stupidity. My guess is, it was a slip, of the kind that you and I make ever more frequently.

  4. I saw it on a Facebook post and listened to it out of curiosity. Definitely a slip of the tongue. Though I’m not a fan of Palin, I thought highlighting her mistake was absolutely ridiculous, especially under the headline of “Palin calls North Korea a U.S. ally.”
    It’s these kinds of things that make people distrust the media (though there are other reasons) and widen the gap between Americans.

  5. The difference is that with Palin, there’s the possibility that she might actually believe what she’s saying (come on, ‘fess up–there was just a split second, wasn’t there?). After all, it was only during the presidential campaign that she learned there were two Koreas instead of one. So I guess she’s making progress. Far from thinking it is funny, I take it very seriously. God forbid she should be in a position of power and pick up the red phone instead of the black one. Oops!

  6. Come on, guys, and you’re mostly guys, let’s just talk turkey here.

    Each media outlet has its “fave,” its political point of view, its own ideological orientation. We’ve known this since the days of William Randolph Hearst (the “Hearst papers” were way before my time, but their legacy lives on).

    Here are the facts as I see them.

    1. Sarah Palin is a great looking woman, and as we’ve been told over and over again, beautiful women absolutely cannot be intelligent. Really, think about it: if you’re a troll and dress like a man, you have more “gravitas” than a woman who is the opposite. I do not think that in my lifetime we will see a good-looking, capable, articulate woman be president. Not because they’re not out there: we just haven’t progressed enough as a culture to let it happen.

    2. She has made a number of public mistakes — like resigning her governance of Alaska — and no one in the intelligentsia will forgive her for that.

    3. She is a plain talker who does not rely on a teleprompter to help her through her public statements. “Plain talk” often translates into slang: another thing commentators view as something other than “stateswomanlike.”

    3. Her family is an embarrassment. Who wants some version of the Simpsons in the White House?

    So, regardless of the impact she has had on the overall political landscape, we presumably can’t be allowed to take her seriously. We have to listen to people make fun of her at every opportunity.

    All politicians have made verbal gaffes. Every single one. But let’s be sure and make it front page news when Sarah Palin makes one. (When she was ambushed on the ‘Today” show about Supreme Court decisions, it was front page news. Did anyone ask the same question of Joe Biden? And what do you think his response would have been? I rather doubt he woud have dragged out old Justice Taney as an example… No matter: “Today” wasn’t out to ambush Biden. Only Palin.

    Sarah Palin won’t become President. Most people, including her, know this. But she’s a political force, and leftist elites resent it And they will go after her at every opportunity. Let them. If she fights back, good for her. One more change she may make for the better, regardless of her actual political future.

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