Chas­ing Sarah: The boys be­hind the bus

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

In the 1970s, “The Boys on the Bus” ex­posed how a clubby pack of male po­lit­i­cal re­porters ruled the road to the White House and shaped the news. Four decades later, an out­sider gal from Alaska has com­man­deered the 2012 me­dia bus, and left Belt­way jour­nal­ism in­sid­ers eat­ing her dust. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Amid fren­zied spec­u­la­tion over her po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial cam­paign plans, for­mer GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin launched an all-Amer­i­can road trip with her fam­ily on Me­mo­rial Day week­end. Es­tab­lish­ment me­dia types didn’t get re­served seats or ad­vance no­tice of her itin­er­ary. Palin rubbed the Wash­ing­ton me­dia mob’s in­sti­tu­tional sense of en­ti­tle­ment right back in its face. “I don’t think I owe any­thing to the main­stream me­dia. I want them to have to do a lit­tle bit of work on a tour like this,” she jabbed.

Robbed of the re­flex­ive gen­u­flec­tion cus­tom­ar­ily paid by pub­lic­i­ty­seek­ing can­di­dates to the po­lit­i­cal press, scribes, cam­era­men and pro­duc­ers on the cam­paign trail be­gan howl­ing louder than the Rolling Thun­der Har­leys that Palin rode along with on May 30 in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. One miffed CBS News pro­ducer, Ryan Cor­saro, pouted that the O.J. Simp­son-style me­dia car­a­van giv­ing chase to Palin had cre­ated haz­ardous work­ing con­di­tions for all the in­trepid news cor­re­spon­dents.

“I just hope to God that one of these young pro­duc­ers with a cam­era whose bosses are mak­ing them fol­low Sarah Palin as a po­ten­tial Repub­li­can can­di­date don’t get in a car crash, be­cause this is dan­ger­ous,” Cor­saro said. Puh-lease. As if trav­el­ing Amer­ica’s high­ways to his­toric tourist spots were akin to driv­ing in an ar­mored tank on Bagh­dad’s road of death.

In Philadel­phia, a pair of news he­li­copters braved treach­er­ous con­di­tions to mon­i­tor the en­emy on the ground. Soon, ed­i­tors track­ing the story from their cub­bies will be fil­ing work­ers’ comp claims as­sert­ing ex­po­sure to se­cond­hand ex­haust fumes from Palin’s bus. And I’m count­ing the min­utes un­til some cub re­porter dou­bleparks some­where in hot pur­suit of Team Sarah and de­mands that she pay his ticket. I mean, how dare Palin “make them fol­low” her!

As my friend and blog­ging col­league Doug Pow­ers put it: “Re­porters whin­ing about Palin are like kids who can’t reach the cookie jar be­cause she keeps mov­ing it.”

For more than two years, Palin-bash­ing jour­nal­ists (on the es­tab­lish­ment left and the right) have mocked the conser- va­tive su­per­nova while milk­ing her for head­lines, cir­cu­la­tion, view­er­ship and Web traf­fic.

They lam­baste her as triv­ial, while ob­sess­ing over her shoes, glasses and hair, and turn­ing one of her mis­spelled words on Twit­ter into Water­gate.

They la­bel her a grievance­mon­ger for call­ing out me­dia dou­ble stan­dards and then kvetch, moan and wal­low in a pool of self-pity when she doesn’t spoon-feed them cov­eted po­lit­i­cal scoops.

They call her dumb and then run around in cir­cles try­ing to fig­ure out her “mys­tery” tour and blame her for “fak­ing them out.”

They blast her for in­com­pe­tence, but grudg­ingly ac­knowl­edge that she is a mas­ter of so­cial me­dia who has changed the rules of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign game.

The At­lantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta griped that “re­al­ity TV star Palin” was “treat­ing pol re­porters like pa­parazzi, need­ing and hat­ing, invit­ing and mak­ing chase.” Per­haps Franke-Ruta needs a re­minder of what a truly par­a­sitic presspol re­la­tion­ship looks like. I have stacks of Obama 2008 pro­files ex­ult­ing over his glis­ten­ing pecs and soar­ing or­a­tor­i­cal skills, fol­lowed by count­less spurned-lover laments from re­porters dis­ap­pointed about the con­trol freaks who stage-man­age his ev­ery press ap­pear­ance.

What makes Sarah stand out in the na­tional GOP field is that she is be­holden to no one and con­trols her own des­tiny. She doesn’t need me­dia king­mak­ers to make her. They need her. She doesn’t need news­pa­per or TV pro­duc­ers to drive her story. She drives them. Crazy. The un­hinged re­ac­tion of the Pal­in­hat­ing con­voy re­veals what its at­ten­dants fear most: a politi­cian who doesn’t fear them.

Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.