By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009
Sarah Palin, still smarting over coverage of her vice presidential run, calls the media's reporting on her family "very scary" and says there may be "a class issue" that explains the more sympathetic treatment of Caroline Kennedy.
The Alaska governor also took a swipe at Katie Couric over the CBS interview in which Palin stumbled badly, saying: "Katie, you're not the center of everyone's universe."
Palin did her venting Monday with John Ziegler, a conservative radio talk show host turned filmmaker, who posted excerpts online to promote the sale of a forthcoming DVD titled "Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected." "I think this woman was assassinated by the media," he said yesterday.
By turns aggravated and bemused, Palin complained in the video that her press office is still getting calls about rumors that she is not the mother of her infant son. She called this "quite absurd," saying she is "frustrated that I wasn't believed that Trig was really my son.
"When did we start accepting as hard news sources bloggers, anonymous bloggers especially? It's a sad state of affairs in the world of the media today, mainstream media especially, that they're going to rely on bloggers, anonymous bloggers, for their hard news information."
Mainstream news outlets reported the rumor in September only after John McCain's campaign revealed the pregnancy of Palin's teenage daughter Bristol, citing the chatter about Trig as the reason for the disclosure. Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan -- who is hardly anonymous -- has questioned why Palin would not release medical records to prove she is the boy's mother, but has also posted information supporting her account.
Although her campaign brushed aside most inquiries on the subject, Palin asked: "What is the double standard here, why reporters would choose to believe lies, reporters especially not just taking one extra step to get to the facts . . . Is it sexism? What is it that drives someone to believe the worst and perpetuate the worst, in terms of gossip and lies?"
Palin also objected to reports that Bristol and her fiance, Levi Johnston, are "high school dropouts and they're going to just look for government handouts to raise their child and stuff, nothing could be further from the truth. And I've asked some in the media to correct that, and they haven't corrected it, and that gets frustrating." Palin contacted People magazine, the Associated Press and the Anchorage Daily News last week. She said Johnston -- who, according to the Anchorage paper, recently quit his job as an apprentice electrician -- is taking a high school correspondence course, and that Bristol is still a student.
Palin was hit by an avalanche of coverage after her surprise nomination in August, some of it critical of her Alaska record and her qualifications for the vice presidency, and some of it more personal, questioning how she could handle the job with five children. Tina Fey's "Saturday Night Live" impersonation cemented an impression of Palin as a bit of a ditz.
Ziegler showed Palin a clip of Fey saying, "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers." Palin's reaction: "Cool, fine, come attack me, but when you make a suggestion like that that attacks a kid, that kills me."
Palin questioned whether Kennedy's bid for the Senate "will be handled with kid gloves," and if so, "we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here" when contrasted with the scrutiny of her campaign. Kennedy, of course, is trying for an appointment to be one of 100 rather than running for vice president, and has drawn critical coverage lately for a series of halting interviews.
Palin criticized the McCain camp's decision to send her back for a second round with Couric, and tried to explain why she declined to name a single publication she reads. Palin said she interpreted Couric's question as "Do you read, what do you guys do up there," but conceded: "Perhaps I was just too flippant in my answer back to her." However, Couric made no reference to Alaska in her question, asking, "What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this?"
Asked by Ziegler how she would have fared as Barack Obama's running mate, Palin accused the press of ideological "hypocrisy," saying: "I think they would have loved me as a candidate. . . . You would have seen an absolutely different and . . . much prettier profile of Sarah Palin and the Palin family and my administration."
Would she do it again? "That's a darned good question," Palin said, before concluding that she would. But she doesn't want people in the "Lower 48" being "sucked into believing what too many in the mainstream media want them to believe."
Ziegler, whose film will be sold online next month, said Palin was "very concerned about appearing whiny" before the 50-minute sit-down at her Wasilla home. He said he found her Republican convention speech "awesome" but had wondered about the media portrayal of her as "a diva or a wack job." He now believes that "the fact that she's mocked is a travesty."
On his Web site, Ziegler says that when Palin saw a picture of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, "she literally let out a shriek and, pointing to his photograph, declared, 'THAT guy is EVIL!' "