Ob­ses­sion: The me­dia’s Palin e-mail hunt

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Be­cause I am a sim­ple man, al­low me to pose a sim­ple ques­tion: What the deuce were 30 re­porters do­ing in Juneau re­cently sift­ing through 24,000 pages of e-mails writ­ten by then Gov. Sarah Palin? Why did a bunch of news agen­cies spend money to send their peo­ple north to Alaska af­ter the state gov­ern­ment re­leased the cor­re­spon­dence?

Maybe they want to know more about oil shale on the North Slope. Per­haps fish­ing off the coast of Nome in­ter­ests them. Could it be ur­ban re­newal in Sk­ag­way?

Sure. We all know the rea­son why the me­dia bar­bar­ians de­scended on Juneau. They wanted to find some­thing on Palin. As Don Hen­ley once sang: “Give us dirty laun­dry!”

And not only did the re­porters go on lo­ca­tion, but in­cred­i­bly, both The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post asked for un­paid vol­un­teers to read some of the e-mails with the hope of find­ing some­thing, any­thing, on Palin. So I guess this is the jour­nal­ism of the fu­ture: “Hey, you, can you re­search this story for me? I have to go to din­ner.”

Af­ter all that, here is what The Wash­ing­ton Post came up with: “The e-mails pro­vide a re- veal­ing look at an am­bi­tious rookie politi­cian find­ing her way in the cor­ri­dor of power.” If that’s not Pulitzer stuff, I don’t know what is.

Here’s The New York Times’ as­sess­ment: “Yet what is clear in the 24,000 pages of her emails . . . is that her gov­ern­ing style was not nec­es­sar­ily an ei­ther-or propo­si­tion. Some­times she seemed to be ev­ery­thing all at once.” Re­ally? Fas­ci­nat­ing.

Like Casey, the me­dia struck out. The laun­dry was clean and neatly folded. The Palin e-mail ex­po­si­tion is the best ex­am­ple of a po­lit­i­cal witch-hunt that I have ever seen. Did the me­dia de­mand to see Sen. Obama’s cor­re­spon­dence while in of­fice? How about Gov. Mitt Rom­ney’s e-mail ex­pe­ri­ence? No, they did not.

A fair-minded per­son has to won­der what it is about Palin that makes the press so ag­gres­sive to­ward her. Putting aside her con­ser­va­tive ide­ol­ogy, which makes many me­dia peo­ple ill, I think it’s her glam­our. The gov­er­nor is good-look­ing and feisty. She com­mands at­ten­tion by her very ap­pear­ance.

In our shal­low, re­al­ity-show driven so­ci­ety, Palin has be­come a star not be­cause of her pub­lic ser­vice, but be­cause of her movie star-like mar­ket­ing. There she is in the Alaskan woods look­ing great on cam­era. Here she comes in a new film tout­ing her love for Amer­ica. Move over, Jen­nifer Anis­ton. There’s a new friend in town: Sarah Palin.

In the end, the me­dia’s ob­ses­sion with Palin ac­tu­ally helps her. Amer­i­cans know when a per­son is be­ing per­se­cuted. Like her or not, Palin does not de­serve the level of scrutiny be­ing foisted upon her and her fam­ily. She’s just a politi­cian, peo­ple, not Kim Kar­dashian.

Bill O’Reilly is au­thor of the book “Pin­heads and Pa­tri­ots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama”.

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