The age of Palintology

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009; 9:36 AM

The media are going rogue.

They just can't help themselves. Journalists are addicted to Sarah Palin. Some love to hate her, some love to love her, all love to dissect or defend her.

Oh, they've tried to generate the same emotion for the public option, for the Afghanistan options, but sadly, that doesn't produce the same level of excitement. No thrill up the leg. No argument about women and sexism. No Tina Fey. No newsmagazine cover with a leggy ex-governor.

Palin is undeniably a crossover hit: a woman, a Republican, a politician, a hunter, a hockey mom, an Alaskan, a media critic, a cultural force, a creationist, the mother of a Down syndrome baby. There's something for everyone to argue about. Hers is a rise-and-fall-and-possible-comeback story.

Even the right is divided. David Brooks says Palin is a "joke"; the Weekly Standard crowd loves her. So you have left-right warfare and right-on-right ridicule.

Reporters who cover candidates and officeholders know all too well that most of them are cautious, poll-tested creatures whose primary aim in life is not to offend. At most they take gentle jabs that we hype into headlines. Palin is different. She likes to smack people around, from Barack Obama ("palling around with a terrorist") to Levi Johnston (posing for porn). And she takes special delight in denouncing the media. More than a year after her fateful encounter with Katie Couric, she's still ripping the CBS anchor for "badgering" her.

The on-the-record pushback from McCainiacs is undermining the book more than the vast left-wing conspiracy. Nicolle Wallace, whom Palin singles out as pushing the Katie interview and promising it would be patty-cake, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday that Palin's account was "either rationalization or justification or fiction," and that some of the fights that Palin recounts with the campaign staff "took place entirely in her imagination."

Does Palin pay a price for taking on those who buy ink by the barrel or have satellite uplinks? In some ways, yes, but since the media love focusing on the media, she winds up getting even more column inches and airtime (to which I've just contributed). Journalists are grateful for such a colorful and divisive subject. And that means the Palinpalooza will continue for some time to come.

Palin's least favorite blogger, Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Dish, catches her in a flat-out contradiction:

"In the unedited version of the Oprah love-fest, we get yet another version of the story about her asking her children if she should run for vice-president. Here's her latest statement broadcast Monday:

"This time, there wasn't a family vote. Other steps in my political life, I've polled the kids, and I have abided by some of the results of the polls that the kids have partaken in. This time, no.

"This is what she said last fall:

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