What Sarah Palin’s “Today Show” appearance proves, she’s nothing without the media.

What Sarah Palin’s “Today Show” appearance proves she needs the media.
by Chris Cillizza

Sarah Palin’s hour spent as a guest host on NBC’s uber-popular “Today Show” this morning proves one thing beyond any doubt: She needs the media. Badly. And she knows it.

Former half-term Alaska Gov. and losing GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin delivers the keynote address to activists from America’s political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. NBC’s “Today” show is bringing Sarah Palin on board as a co-host — for one morning, this Tuesday, April 3. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)Ever since Palin emerged on the national stage in the late summer of 2008, the one consistent part of her rhetoric has been a disgust/distrust with the media.

“I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone,” Palin said in her 2008 Republican National Convention speech.

As the scrutiny of her qualifications increased, Palin’s vitriol toward the media swelled too. Most famously, she accused Katie Couric of playing gotcha journalism for asking her what sort of things she read — a claim that was, is and always will be ridiculous on its face.

After Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential bid came up short, Palin doubled down on her anti-media rap. By 2010, Palin’s riff against the “lamestream media” was in full flower. In a speech in September 2010 in Iowa, Palin took that critique to new heights, telling the media (in part):

“You’re worse for using, in that lamestream media, those unsubstantiated untrue hits, it’s not fair to our country, it’s not fair to the electorate, it’s not fair to our democracy, and it is not fair to our troops willing to sacrifice all for our freedoms, journalists, ok?”
What was always true — even in the depths of Palin’s campaign against the media — was that she needed the media. Out of office, Palin’s best (only?) way to remain in the spotlight was to keep making news by attacking the news. If the media ignored Palin, she had — and has — no ability to be the sort of celebritician (a combination of a celebrity and politician) that she clearly wants to be.

Palin, of course, knew that. Criticize her for many things but one thing she gets is how the media-political complex works. (Remember that Palin was — in a past life — a sports reporter on TV.) On that front, she carries a sort of instinctual understanding of how to play the game.

In case there was ANY doubt about that fact, Palin’s appearance on the “Today Show” this morning provides conclusive proof.

Palin cruised her way through the hour — talking about politics, Jessica Simpson’s (mostly) nude spread on the cover of Elle magazine and entertaining with Tori Spelling .

The most telling moment of the hour was when Palin praised “Saturday Night Live’s” Tina Fey as “pretty clever” for her biting impersonation of the former Alaska governor. (It was one of a number of decidedly self-deprecating moments from Palin throughout the hour.)

That admission amounted to a wink and a nod by Palin. She knows that the worst thing in the world (or at least in her world) is to have people stop talking about her. And the best way to keep people talking is to maintain the sort of hate/love relationship with the media that her political career has been built on over the last four years.



14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 09:47:39

    But even without it, she’s still a mother and friend. She doesn’t need the media. But who would turn down the offers she’s been given? Not a smart person, that’s for sure.


    • jk
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 11:05:36

      Be honest.

      I’d be surprised if Sarah Palin has even one person she considers to be a current close friend. While clawing her unqualified way up the ladder, Sarah Palin has left a string of “friends” with stab marks in their backs.

      And by all accounts (including Bristol’s own), she’s not much of a mother.


      • Julian
        Apr 05, 2012 @ 16:16:38

        The number of “friends” Palin has chucked under the bus would bring it to a screeching halt.

    • Cheryl Clemons
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 16:10:25

      Keep believing that.


    • WakeUpAmerica
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 20:57:50

      Sarah Palin, like most narcissists, does not have any friends. She has followers. There’s a huge difference. She uses people and makes them think they are special. When they are of no use to her any more, she kicks them to the curb and never looks back.


    • nswfm
      Apr 04, 2012 @ 11:46:21

      She doesn’t need the media? She had to write notes on her hand, so she’s not a smart person, from everything I’ve seen.


  2. batgirly
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 09:53:10

    At least she was an expert on many of the subjects.

    The story about Oprah admitting that she may have Gotten In Over Her Head, Unusual Weight Gain During Pregnancy?, Enemy Lists, and Biographical Film Actors?

    Was this a cruel (but funny) hoax by the Lamestream Media?


    • Dale
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 19:09:26

      Every segment she participated in showed her hypocrisy. She is too stupid to realize they used her for ratings. I’m sure they were snickering at her throughout the whole thing.


  3. Scarsdale
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 10:10:48

    We should contact NBC and ask them to have her return, to do what she claims to be really good at – field dressing a moose!! On her “reality show” she had trouble shooting a tethered animal even after her father loaded the rifle for her. Maybe it is that “wonky eye” that gives her trouble?


  4. Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 11:09:34

    $P wasn’t even a host, she was a guest.


  5. Neil
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 17:45:17

    NBC promised another side of palin.I didn’t see it.I saw the same persona that has been on display on Fox for the past two years.I don’t find her entertaining or charming or anything else.All I see is a two bit politician who is trying to cling to what little bit of fame she has garnered.Not a good person or a good American.I just wish she would go away and leave the business of running America to the adults in the room.


  6. WakeUpAmerica
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 20:59:38

    Other than her perpetual bitterness and hatefulness, Palin’s biggest problem is that she is only an inch deep.


  7. martha_davidson (@martha_davidson)
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 13:21:56

    NBC just learned what FOX, TLC, and A&E already know….”her time has passed.”

    Sarah Palin’s TV Ratings Go Rogue
    April 05, 2012 2:01 pm ET by Oliver Willis

    Sarah Palin’s appearance as a guest host for Today resulted in a modest increase in the ratings for NBC (5.497 million viewers, compared to an average of 5.39 million viewers in the first quarter of 2012), but did not significantly widen the gap between Today and Good Morning America on ABC.

    Her Today experience is the latest instance of Palin attracting underwhelming television ratings, despite comments from Fox News president Roger Ailes that he hired Palin “because she was hot and got ratings.”

    New York magazine noted that “beyond her prime-time commentary, Palin hasn’t turned into the television asset Ailes had hoped” and that her decision not to run for president (announced on Mark Levin’s radio show and not Fox News) had short-circuited her appeal as a pundit for the network.
    In January 2010, Fox hyped Palin’s debut appearance as a Fox pundit on the O’Reilly Factor as hitting “the nearly 4 million viewer jackpot.” The rest of her time at Fox has not been as successful.

    Her first TV special for Fox aired April 1, 2010. The special, Real American Stories, caused controversy when interview subjects like actor/musician LL Cool J alleged that Fox was “misrepresenting” an old interview as new “in order to promote Sarah Palins Show.”

    It was also not a ratings success. Real American Stories had 10% lower ratings than the episode of On The Record with Greta Van Susteren that aired in the same slot the previous week. The special lost 183,000 viewers from its Hannity lead-in.

    When Fox announced Palin’s hiring, they said she would host “periodic episodes” of Real American Stories. Only one episode has been released since 2010.

    Her reality show on TLC, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, debuted in November 2010 with 5 million viewers, but by the second episode the ratings had declined 40% to 3 million viewers, and as the Hollywood Reporter noted, “the median age of the show is 57 — that’s 15 years older than TLC’s average.”

    Entertainment Weekly later reported that TLC has “no plans” to produce a second season of the show.

    Palin and her husband Todd reportedly pitched a different reality show to TLC and A&E, but both networks passed on the program. A “network insider” told The Hollywood Reporter that “I think it’s safe to say her time has passed.”


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