The 2008 interviews that sank Sarah Palin wouldn't matter now

Originally published at: The 2008 interviews that sank Sarah Palin wouldn't matter now | Boing Boing

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Sarah Palin may be a far cry from being the most woefully unqualified, grotesquely ignorant person to run for national office on the Republican ticket these days but she certainly helped open the door for the ones who came after her.


Even a phone hack would be more of just the same.


Palin’s press response was to criticize Couric for asking “gotcha questions.” This ludicrous, ham-fisted attack was correctly met with further criticism—how could it possibly be a “gotcha” question to ask someone seeking the second-most-powerful office in the world what newspapers and magazines they read?

Sarah Palin, though, lay the groundwork for Donald Trump. Even though McCain lost—due in no small part to her—she remained a powerful voice for naked, abject lying, most notably when she took up the cause of Obamacare’s “death panels.” Such things were, of course, completely fabricated, but the right-wing media wasted no time eagerly repeating this lie, which could have been easily dismissed by saying nothing close to anything like that is found anywhere in the legislation. But the right-wing media didn’t do that, instead providing Palin and others a forum to repeat what they all knew to be lies, because it advanced the noble cause of hurting Obama.

Thirteen years later, Fox News has finally suffered a consequence for its unrepentant lying, but the damage has been done.


For young people, it started with Palin.

For older people, it started with Gingrich

Even older people will tell you it started with Reagan

I’m not sure where it started, but over the course of my life, the national dialogue has gotten dumber and dumber, as we accept ever lower standards from our ‘leaders.’

I suspect someone has written an exceptional dissertation on how the evolution of newspapers to radio to TV to the internet to social media has contributed shaped our decline. If so, I’d love to read it.


A historian would say, it started with Nixon…


That checks.


Maybe it wouldn’t matter, but I’d still love to see the Trumps, Boeberts, Greenes and others subjected to… I want to say hard-hitting, but the questions weren’t even that difficult. I want to see them subjected to any level of serious inquiry and fact-checking whatsoever. Apparently at some point between 2008 and 2016 journalism just ceased to be a thing entirely.


Part of the problem is that they won’t subject themselves to any serious journalists. Trump never went on NPR (which, though it has serious failings, is the absolutely closest to what we think of as serious modern journalism, I’d argue), not because they did not ask, but because he consistently refused to be interviewed by NPR journalists. They all follow the same playbook - only go on networks that they’re politically aligned with, and roar about how anything else is “fake news”… This interview with Palin is part of the reason why, I suspect. Because she got questioned in a way that revealed her unfitness to be VP, the far right refuses to give anyone other than networks to the right of Fox News access.

There is certainly real critiques we need to discuss about the modern, corporate newsmedia (NPR included), which is revealed in the article in another thread about Chris Licht and his tenure in charge of CNN. But it’s not all at the feet of the news outlets. This is a tactic to further discredit the news media which is already struggling to figure out a way forward in the current media environment. They’ve weaponized this period of mass media uncertainty caused in part by the rise of social media to their own advantage.


Trump did have that one Axios interview with Jonathan Swan where Swan repeatedly called out Trump’s lies. But most people have never heard of Swan or Axios, so I don’t think too many people saw it outside of non-Trumpist political junkies who already knew that Trump is a lying sack of shit. Leslie Stahl was in a much more Couric-like position, and came SO CLOSE to revealing his bullshit when he handed her that giant empty book of his healthcare “accomplishments.” But she (or, more likely, her producers) didn’t quite manage to convert the opportunity.

And Trump’s big innovation in political discourse, which Palin was too dumb (or, if we’re being charitable, not quite cynical enough) to use, but which the post-Trump Republican “stars” like MTG and DeSantis have gleefully adopted, is to simply go on the attack whenever asked anything remotely challenging.

The “fake news” thing is a big part of it: any unflattering fact gets called fake, no matter how real (and his cooption of the term “fake news” is an extraordinary feat, given that it started as a reference to pro-Trump outright disinformation, but he managed to make it so definition #1 in most people’s minds is simply “CNN”). Trump also likes to respond to any question he doesn’t like by simply not answering and whining about how “unfair” it is and (especially if the questioner is a woman) how “nasty” the questioner is and (especially if she’s a woman of color) how she has a “low IQ.” It’s amazing how consistent his playbook is, and yet almost nobody has devised an effective countermeasure. There are the fantasy countermeasures, like having all the journalists at a press conference keep asking the same unanswered question until he answers it, but we all know that he’ll just walk out of the room.


Yet, my point stands… that they don’t subject themselves to serious inquiry that they know will reveal them for what they are… :woman_shrugging:


The Tea Party-ists weren’t overtly racist enough to beat Obama. Trump didn’t start Birtherism until 2011. I agree it wouldn’t matter now. With the birth of Trumpism the deplorables have an open mike.


I’m just disappointed we never got the Palin / Quayle ticket this country really deserved.

He didn’t start it at all… it pre-existed his intervention into it. He mainstreamed it the most, for sure…


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