Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Media to Sarahcuda: "I just can't quit you"

The Pew Research Center has published a report by from its Project for Excellence in Journalism which shows that the third most frequently reported story was the media non-stop chattering over the July 3 announcement by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin that she will resign before the end of the month. The report says she "may now be a cultural figure as well as a political one":
Palin's resignation proved to be fodder for the politically-oriented talk-show circuit. Questions about her motives and future plans -- along with widely divergent opinions of the governor -- filled 19% of the airtime studied last week on the 13 radio and cable news talk shows in the News Coverage Index.

The media themselves became part of the story... The Palin storyline featured a theme that she herself has pushed -- from the outset of her appearance in the campaign and around her resignation -- that an unfair and unfriendly media corps has hounded the governor and her family.
Pew says that Gov. Palin was the number one topic on talk radio and the number two subject of prime-time cable television talk show chatter. Much of the discussion consisted of speculation about why she is resigning, despite the fact that the governor explained that a constant string of politically-motivated "ethics" complaints had excessively burdened the executive branch of her state's government in terms of time and money:
A July 6 ABC News story posted on Google News referenced the "many lingering questions" about the move. "On many blogs ... speculation ran rampant that a scandal is coming or that another shoe will drop. But no evidence of anything more than rehashed rumors has appeared so far."

In addition to the Palin guessing game, some of the narrative defaulted to a more polarizing and politicized view of the former vice-presidential candidate, with critics attacking Palin and supporters attacking the media.

On his July 8 MSNBC show, liberal Keith Olbermann declared that, "It appears to be Gov. Palin's main activity ... even with two full weeks left in office -- posting to her Twitter page."

"Twitter," he said, "rhymes with quitter."

On his July 6 radio show, conservative Sean Hannity trained his guns on the press treatment of Palin, declaring it "a media ... onslaught" and "media bashing" of the governor.

"Of all the lines of argument concerning her resignation as governor," he declared, "there was none more disingenuous than ‘well, she abandoned her post.'" Citing another commentator, Hannity noted that various politicians had left office early, including Obama who didn't serve out his term as senator when elected president.
- JP

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