Sarah Palin Blasts Media Not Just Bloggers

Filed as Features on November 21, 2008 12:59 pm

When asked in an interview with Sarah Palin on FoxTV, her first public interview after the election, if there were false allegations made that needed to be addressed, and Sarah Palin blames the media, with a minor slap against bloggers that is making the rounds of the blogosphere.

…if the media had taken one step further and investigated a little bit, not just gone on some blogger – probably sitting there in their parent’s basement, wearing their pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip or lie regarding, for instance, the discussion of who is Trig’s real mom…and that was in mainstream media, the question that was asked, instead of just coming to me and setting the record straight. And when I tried to correct that – that yeah, I’m truly Trig’s mother – to take days for everything to have been corrected…

Rumors are flying around that she is attacking and judging bloggers. While she does make a sweeping generalization about bloggers, one that we bloggers deal with daily, her point is to actually take the media to task for using blogs as a source of fact and fiction.

Traditional Media Using Blog Content

While traditional media sources are losing traction economically as well as visibly, many are turning to blogs for their stories. If not for the facts, then for the entertainment value.

Why didn’t the media investigate thoroughly before reporting on a log of the various myths, gossips, and rumors that flew around the entire US election campaign, covered by mainstream media 24/7? It would be so easy to check a birth certificate, check with family and friends, or even check the hospital staff to verify the facts behind her son’s birth. Sure, privacy issues might get in the way, but they didn’t verify immediately before reporting, and if they did verify the facts, they let the attention-getting rumors fly around to drum up much needed business long before they reported on the truth.

When the truth was reported, it was third page news reporting not front page. The truth is often so much more boring than made up crap.

Why didn’t they? Why did the mainstream media deliver gossip and rumors instead of facts?

It’s Easy to Avoid Facts

First, it was easy to ask the same questions that blogger’s and others were asking. It’s naturally to be suspicious of a woman Palin’s age, especially with much older kids, to wonder why she would knowingly risk having another child. It’s natural to be curious, too, about why a woman, fresh from pregnancy with a special needs child, would accept the nomination of vice president of a very busy and huge country at a time when her child and family needed her more than her job. With such overwhelming responsibilities, maybe we could conclude that her bonds with the child aren’t as tight as they should be if she really gave birth. That’s human nature to ask yourself these things. This aren’t evil questions. They are natural.

When natural questions come up in the media as stories rather than questions, they aren’t facts. They are entertainment. Big entertainment. Let’s all muse together and avoid the truth because it’s juicer!

Actually, it’s is a truer statement that truth is stranger than fiction, and often more entertaining. Why didn’t someone do a story on the struggles Palin must have gone through after finding out her child had Down’s Syndrome, trying to make plans for the future and her family dealing with the responsibilities, and then getting the invite to be a vice presidential candidate and having to struggle with the decision and impact on her life as well as the life of her child and family. That’s a better story. It’s got heart and spirit and courage. Instead, we all groaned when she didn’t know some geographical or political information about Africa.

If the media followed the daily struggle by Palin to deal with the impact of being thrown from anonymity into the spotlight of the world instead of whether or not the Republican Party funded her wardrobe, the election might have gone a different direction. So why didn’t they? Why did they revel in the fiction instead of the facts?

Probably because it was easy.

It’s Expensive to Find the Truth

Second, it’s expensive to send out people to research the facts. The old journalist days of spending days or weeks working up a story to ensure that all the proof is in before reporting, to keep the journal’s bias out of the story, having the truth mean more than assumptions – those days are gone. Newspapers, magazines, television, cable, they can’t afford to have reporters and investigators investigating. What they can’t get in a few minutes on Google or other Internet research, they won’t get because they rarely send someone out in the field. It’s just too costly.

So what are they left with? Bloggers? The new in-the-field reporters.

There are a lot of rights and wrongs that come with relying upon citizen reporters. Some bloggers do uncover the truth long before the media does. Some ask the hard questions and find the answers. Some ask the hard questions, and wait for others to come up with the answers. Some also sit around in basements wearing pajamas and just wonder loudly enough, and with enough certainty in their wondering to make people believe their legitimacy. Some of those who wonder also sit in well lit rooms in office buildings wearing modern office attire.

And some bloggers ask the hard questions hoping the media, the source for truth in news, to do the research and give the world the right answers.

When the wonder becomes a story, and that story is taken for legitimate fact, that’s when things break down in the system and people get hurt. More importantly, the sources can also get hurt.

Part of the loss of integrity and trust in the news media is self-imposed. Do you trust the media any more? After years of mistrust, is it any wonder that people are turning from mainstream media towards other sources?

When did we stop trusting the news? We should have never fully trusted the news, but we had confidence it if for many years. It was the nightly news with the trustworthy white man with the comforting and strong voice who led us through the confusion of the world around us and made us feel safe. Right? When did it start falling apart?

Some blame CNN, the first 24 hour news source. With 24 hours to fill, and only so many news stories worth reporting on, they had to find filler. As more challengers to CNN’s reign rose up, they, too, had to find more filler, and competition to the dry news. News around the world today is now more entertainment based rather than factual just to fill in all the time slots and keep viewers returning for more fun – not always the truth.

We have more sources for information and news than at any time in history, available instantly via the Internet. The next ten years are going to prove very interesting to see how these shifts and changes in the news media, online and off, will go.

Media Dictates Public Opinion

As Palin found out, the news media, hawking fact or fiction, does dictate public opinion.

In “Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now,” she describes modern television and cable news as enough to make us want to take anti-depressants:

Was watching the news the other day…when I was a kid, the news was on once a day. You either caught it or you missed it. Now, the news is on 24 hours a day. And that’s not enough. They got a guy talking, they have a crawl down there…you’re online, you’re putting in your opinion on the poll – I said NO! …and if you stop paying attention to the crawl, you go back to the guy for a minute, and you go back to the crawl, and you catch the end of something – about Madonna’s left foot – what about Madonna’s left foot – what happened! You’re waiting for it to come back around again and it goes to commercial. There should be one crawl that goes around over and over again that says “Things are getting worse.”

There are a lot of people saying and thinking that the economy around the world wouldn’t be so bad if we could wake up in the morning and hear the news telling us that things were looking up – instead of being greeted with non-stop interviews with horrible bad news, assumptions, estimates, and predictions that things are indeed going to get worse. Worse sells.

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  1. By Mike Mathews posted on November 21, 2008 at 1:31 pm
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    Well said, Lorelle. The majority of media has become extremely lazy and sensational, but that’s what sells ads and let’s not forget that ad sales is what the media corporations are looking for.

    Bloggers, on the other hand, are not necessarily beholden to advertising, but (hold your flames) many are untrained in journalistic skills or do not wish to take a clear view of a situation, instead preferring to espouse a particular viewpoint things. While journalism with a viewpoint is not bad, it needs to be truthful and should be balanced with high quality journalism that remains without a viewpoint and completely explores a subject. Asking people to go to FactCheck.org or similar sites is a dream that will rarely become true.

    Finally, the Republican Party ran the most atrocious campaign in a number of respects. All campaigns are given to stretching the truth and fudging on facts, but the Republican campaign neglected their own stories and essentially let the campaign become tossed on the current of the day. John McCain said “maverick,” but acted “Rove.” Sarah Palin was tossed to the piranha with only the barest thought of who and what she was or what she could represent.

    Palin. McCain. The Republican Party. They can blame the media, all of the media, all they want, but their story and their reputation is truly theirs to own. They need to take credit for their failure, they just blew it.

    Reply

  2. By Brian Carnell posted on November 21, 2008 at 2:05 pm
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    “Bloggers, on the other hand, are not necessarily beholden to advertising, but (hold your flames) many are untrained in journalistic skills or do not wish to take a clear view of a situation, instead preferring to espouse a particular viewpoint things.”

    That would be a decent explanation, except that bloggers like Andrew Sullivan played a key role in fanning the flames of the “she’s not really Trig’s mom” story, and he and others are not untrained amateurs and knew better.

    Lorelle’s right about CNN having to fill 24 hours, but a lot of bloggers seem to have taken that need to fill space directive and run with it. And while we’re talking about Palin here, there was plenty of similar nonsense from right wing bloggers about Obama/Biden too.

    At least in politics, a lot of blogs seem to have adopted the artificially polarized nature of cable news which involves checking your brain at the door and replacing it with a cheerleader-like mentality in which running with a story like the “whose Trig’s real mom” (or the equally nutty right wing stuff like “is Obama’s birth certificate a fake”) is done without even a second’s worth of stepping back and asking just how much evidence there is for this claim before running with it.

    Reply

    • By Lorelle VanFossen posted on November 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm
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      I used the accusations against Palin as an example, since she made a good point, but you all are right. The attacks the media reported as “stories” were on all sides, and it isn’t limited to election or political news. I listen to a lot of news from outside the US in order to get a more “balanced” perspective, and what I hear inside the borders is often more fodder than fact. Blogs carry some blame, for sure, but they are “freedom of speech” publishers with no rules or regulations other than country laws and what might pass for moral values. We used to believe traditional media had some rules. Maybe they don’t any more.

      Who can we trust when all trust, like the news, is based upon assumption and conjecture?

      Reply

  3. By Mike Mathews posted on November 21, 2008 at 6:04 pm
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    The current times in media parallels the previous “yellow journalism” of the late 1800′s early 1900′s. None of this is new.

    The run up and eventual conflict forced by the Hearst papers and others resulted in an unjustified war and needless bloodshed (sound familiar?). The Catholic-baiting, Irish/Italian-hating genre, you could hate two groups at once and hate them again because they were mostly Catholic, what a bonanza of hate! Catholics were accused of baby-eating (yes, believe it or not), I forget what the spurious nationalistic views were and I am too lazy at the moment to look them up (am I proving the point on myself?).

    Maybe, after a period of extremely partisan and knee-jerk reporting journalism, we will return to balanced journalism that carefully reports the story, weighs the facts and measures the response. Maybe. Until then let’s all remember the lessons: you never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel; freedom of the press is limited to those who own one (and freedom of speech follows closely behind, both freedoms are now broadening through use of the Internet, but the attendant responsibilities are lagging behind); and there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics (my apologies to all original authors).

    Reply

  4. By sandra mitchell posted on November 21, 2008 at 9:19 pm
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    I blog, often in my pajamas, but I own the house with my basement. I am offended that how I am dressed is an issue in my caring about our country.

    Reply

  5. By Jeffro2pt0 posted on November 22, 2008 at 2:04 am
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    There are a lot of people saying and thinking that the economy around the world wouldn’t be so bad if we could wake up in the morning and hear the news telling us that things were looking up – instead of being greeted with non-stop interviews with horrible bad news, assumptions, estimates, and predictions that things are indeed going to get worse. Worse sells.

    Bingo! I’ve heard nuerous radio show hosts and TV hosts state that whenever they report on good news versus bad news, the ratings drop. Pretty weird that humans feast upon the bad news but don’t really care as much for the good news.

    Reply

  6. By Onera posted on November 22, 2008 at 10:32 am
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    But don’t forget that because of the rumors and gossips the truth that somebody is pregnant came out. The right wing has a history of attacking media when it does not suit their agenda. I did not see any attack on fox news, drudge – the purveyor of rumors, and all the the talk radios.

    If she would have announced that her daughter is pregnant, no body would have come with the Trigg’s story. So, she wanted to hide something and when the rumor started circulating she was forced to reveal the truth. That way the rumor definitely served a purpose.

    I also don’t remember Time, Newsweek, and evening news of other broadcast channels talking discussing the rumor. So what is she talking about, I don’t know. May be MSNBC had mentioned that but again MSNBS is opposite of Fox News in the left the difference is Fox spreads rumor under the coverage of news and MSNBC discusses rumors telling it that it is rumors.

    Reply

  7. By Tumblemoose posted on November 22, 2008 at 11:29 am
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    @onera: I’m so amazed how liberals cannot see or understand the obvious left bias in the mainstream. You can’t seriously believe that CNN and MSNBC are objective in their reporting. The liberals always blast FOX as being right wing when in fact they do a pretty remarkable job of presenting both sides of the issue, without burying the leftie side in fine print on page 3.

    I’m still amazed…

    George

    Reply

  8. By Ali posted on November 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm
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    First, I am by NO means a fan of Sarah Palin.

    Second, I am very Pro-Choice, which Gov. Palin is not.

    Third, I am absolutely aghast that you could make such a sexist, non-feminist comment such as, ” It’s naturally to be suspicious of a woman Palin’s age, especially with much older kids, to wonder why she would knowingly risk having another child. ”

    Be suspicious of a woman Palin’s age, my God, I thoughts comments like that went out with Wilma Flintstone!

    Sorry, but more and more women with successful and vital lives WANT to pregnant over 40, and with increased awareness to our health, that is very real and not nearly as “risky” as throwing a more evolved attitude about woman and choice to the wind.

    Shame on you.

    Reply

  9. By Senior Gynaecologist in London posted on July 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm
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    I appreciate with Lorelle ‘s comments that more and more women with successful and vital lives WANT to pregnant over 40, and with increased awareness to our health

    Reply

  10. By Security Made Easy posted on August 5, 2009 at 6:53 pm
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    Well said Mr.Lorelle , I agreed with u. All posts are informative and i will certainly return to check on the latests posts.

    Reply

  11. By acnetreatmentboy posted on September 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm
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    I admire Sarah Palin because she had also done a lot in the area of Politics specially in Alaska where she was a governor.

    Reply

  12. By Condenser Dryer · posted on November 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm
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    the thing i like about Sarah Palin is that she is a woman with very strong character ::

    Reply

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