Monday, April 18, 2011

I've Tried. I've Really Tried.

I've tried to ignore Sarah Palin and her antics for a while now. She gets more than her share of adoring coverage by the mainstream press, so shining another light, no matter how critical, seems a bit like taking coals to Newcastle. That said, I found that Meghan Daum's latest column does deserve a little explicating, even if it does have to do with the former governor of Alaska and former candidate for Vice President.

Meghan Daum is what the Los Angeles Times considers a "liberal" columnist. While she is no Rosa Brooks, she also is no Jonah Goldberg and she usually does come to the right conclusions after muddying the water with her poorly executed snark. In this case, she really does do a good job in noting how gingerly she and the rest of the press have treated Palin since her rather remarkable entrance on the national political stage. Her reasons and her excuses don't clear her and her colleagues from their rather shoddy reportage, but they do explain at least partially why the Thrilla from Wasilla too often gets a pass by the press.

Here is one of the key points Daum makes:

And that's not the only reason why we can't bring ourselves to take the gloves off with Palin. It's impossible not to feel like we're punching shamefully below our weight, which everyone knows is against the rules. Palin lacks the intellectual, analytical and rhetorical skills to have a competent discussion about policy or much else. She is handicapped not only by a lack of education, experience and curiosity about the world (wearing a Star of David in Israel doesn't count), but by a speaking style that often collapses under the weight of disjointed, undiagrammable sentences. She is, in terms of the political arena, easily outclassed.

In other words, Meghan Daum and her colleagues don't want to be seen as bullies, as "smarty-pants" duelling with an unarmed adversary. I don't think that's a particularly good reason for not laying out Palin's defects when they become so glaringly obvious, but I certainly understand the fear. After all, the Right's Wurlitzer continues to churn out the crap about the "liberal media," and showing one of the darlings of the Right as wilfully ignorant would certainly play into that mantra.

It would be nice, not to mention appropriate, if our press showed a bit more courage in doing the job it is paid to do, however. Some honest fact checking after one of her speeches is not hitting below the belt. Neither is an analysis of one of her tortured assertions about government or the current president.

It's about time at least one member of that press admitted that they really haven't been doing the job for whatever reason. It's past time for the press to do something about it.



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