Vanity Fair has unleashed a ten thousand word hit piece on Sarah Palin in the latest issue based largely on anonymous sources that has already begun to fall apart under close scrutiny by reporters who actually check facts.
Ben Smith, of Politico, very easily found two stories in the Vanity that were wide of the truth.
The first story was how Palin allegedly brought up the possibility to McCain staffers the possibility of having her daughter Bristol marry Levi Johnson during the campaign and which weekend it could take place to the best advantage of the campaign.
In fact, while some McCain staffers did kick around this idea, Sarah Palin herself was never involved or even aware of the discussions.
The second story was at how at an event Sarah Palin is alleged to have used her children, including her down syndrome child Trig, as props. Leaving aside the fact that every politician uses their kids as political props, it appears that Trig was not even at the event in question.
The question arises, if these two stories are false, how much of the rest of the article is untrue?
The Vanity Fair article also makes a big deal of Sarah Palin’s alleged temper. Again it is not like any other politician doesn’t from time to time display an explosive temper. Palin’s running mate in 2008, John McCain, is famous for it. Indeed, one of Sarah Palin’s idols, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, regularly dressed down cabinet ministers like errant school boys. In any case, even the McCain staffers who used to complain about Palin did not complain about her temper.
On the face of it, it would appear that the Vanity Fair piece is an example of shoddy journalism, laced with bias against its subject. Ben Smith thinks Sarah Palin is partly to blame, as she tends to avoid contact with the mainstream media, sticking to friendlier venues in the conservative press. But, really, if people are going to write things like the Vanity Fair piece, can she be blamed for not wanting to help them do it?
If it was the intent of the Vanity Fair hit piece to tarnish Sarah Palin, it seems to have backfired. Palin is now being defended even by the feminist left. Melissa McEwan, who approves neither of Sarah Palin or her politics, nevertheless finds the Vanity Fair piece sexist in the extreme.
“Gross’ article, however, amounts to very little but “Sarah Palin is the worst because she’s in politics…and is A WOMAN.”
“Sure, it’s covert sexism. Gross doesn’t talk about her boobs or use identifiable misogynist epithets to describe her, but it’s sexism nevertheless, as the (frequently dislikable) habits of many major politicians, of both parties, are used to build the case that Palin is remarkably awful. But there is nothing particularly remarkable about a politician who requires family members get permission to grant interviews. Nor about a politician who ambitiously trades favors and ruthlessly gets people fired who cross her. Nor about a politician who acts like an entitled ass.
“What makes this article the worst thing I’ve read all day is the fact that most of what’s in it is the sort of shit that is considered (rightly or wrongly) the mundane business of doing politics, and yet is somehow ZOMG SHOCKING when done by Sarah Palin.”
Damning with faint praise, perhaps, but it does show something of a peril for people, particularly men, who go after Sarah Palin. Go too far and other women, even liberal women, are going to get angry and even identify with Palin. There is also the rule that most boys are taught from the play ground. It is not done to hit a girl, even one who might one day be President of the United States. That is especially true of someone, like Sarah Palin, who has taken on the totem of the grizzly bear, a beast with sharp claws and an ornery disposition.
Sources: Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury, Michael Joseph Gross, Vanity Fair, October, 2010
Saying Anything About Sarah Palin, Ben Smith, Politico, September 1st 2010
Saying Anything About Sarah Palin, cont’d, Ben Smith, Politico, September 2nd, 2010
This is so the worst thing you’re going to read all day, Melissa McEwan, Shakesville, September 1st, 2010