I don’t really know anything about Sarah Palin – and neither do you. This week, however, there is great expectation that we will learn more about her with the release of her new book, Going Rogue.
About a year and a half ago, hardly anyone living south of the 54th Parallel could have named the Governor of Alaska. I couldn’t, and the province I live in borders that state. Since then, her rise and fall as the US vice-presidential nominee has been a lightning rod for media coverage and analysis.
Politically, I’m pretty sure Ms Palin and I don’t have much in common but the media reaction to her has fascinated me more than a slow motion train wreck. She was singled out by the media for more ridicule than any potential VP since Dan Qualye.
Many say she brought it on herself and often point to her ineptitude during interviews with Katie Couric. No one seems to remember an interview that Couric did with the other vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Asked about the US economy, Biden mentioned Franklin Roosevelt and said that Roosevelt responded to the 1929 stock market crash by going on television to talk about solutions. But Roosevelt didn’t become president until 1933 and in 1929 television was a novelty compared to radio.
Biden’s gaffe is greater than Palin’s inability to name a newspaper she reads or a Supreme Court case off the top of her head. She was clearly nervous and her mind went blank. Something that wouldn’t have happened if she’d had proper media training.
During the campaign there were many times when Biden opened his mouth merely to change feet but he never got the same negative media reaction.
Biden’s avuncular nature was one reason why the media were easier on him but Palin’s biggest mistake was refusing to play the game. She displayed contempt for the media which caused them to react almost in self-defense. As I have said to several clients; you don’t have to like the media but you have to understand them and try to work your agenda in with theirs.
As she does her book tour, I’ll watch with interest to see if Sarah Palin has learned anything about how the media work.