Ana Marie Cox discusses Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue'

Ana Marie Cox
Journalist and author
Tuesday, November 17, 2009; 12:30 PM

Liberal journalist Ana Marie Cox discussed her review of "Going Rogue," Sarah Palin's new political memoir.


Rockville, MD: Which item released today should I buy first? This book, or the Them Crooked Vultures CD?

Ana Marie Cox: I hear the TCV album is very good. Probably the most substantive policy CD Rush Limbaugh has ever listened to!

Welcome to what I suppose is the "left" side of the "Going Rogue" book review chat. My name is Ana, and I'll be your interlocutor.


Milwaukee: Technically, as the author, would Sara ethically be able to list this as a book she has read?

Ana Marie Cox: Oh, she's read all of them.


Edinburg, N.Y.: Our side needs to get ourselves a Palin. The rude guy in Florida is way too literate.

Can we get Sykes to run for office?

Ana Marie Cox: That's an indirect swipe at Ms. Sykes that's not quite deserved! What's more, I am JUST FINE without a "Palin" on "our side." Unless you mean someone without reality-presentation-issues but who is just a dynamic speaker with a compelling personal story who is able to inspire millions with a best-selling book. Yeah, if only we could find someone like that...


Bethesda, Md.: It seems to me that Sarah Palin's complaints about her campaign handlers can only be taken as a criticism of McCain. Either he knew what was going on and failed to put an end to it, or he was so out of touch with his own pick for VP that he had no idea what was going on. The former seems unlikely -- he picked her, so why throw her to the wolves almost immediately, as she seems to be claiming happened? Is the latter even possible? That is, wouldn't she have had an opportunity to talk to him about it? The whole thing just seems kinda, y'know, totally made up.

Ana Marie Cox: We had a little mini-reunion last night of some of the folks that covered McCain, and although it was not CONVENED to talk about the Palin book, it was sort of unavoidable. Anesthetized ourselves a bit and dove in. Consensus: While many of the words she puts in quotes were uttered, they were not always in that order, or said by that person. While many of the events she described happened, they did not include the people she says they did, or happen when she says they happened. It's like she's remembering a campaign that happened on the Holodeck.

So, uhm, not TOTALLY made up!


Atlanta: What did you think of the Oprah interview?

Ana Marie Cox: I was unable to watch it, as I was busily READING THE BOOK. However, if I may point you to this fine liveblog of the event by a very handsome and well-spoken guy I happen to be married


Altavista, Va.: Does Palin even rate in national politics? She is a failed gov. of a rural state....and she had a book done for her. Am I missing the big deal?

Ana Marie Cox: One cannot totally discount the sheer force of her personality, as well as the revulsion/attraction phenomenon she seems to inspire in the (might as well say it) "liberal media." Political careers have been built on less.

That said, I firmly believe the Republican party can do better, and I think they will.


Washington, DC: What's your take on Newsweeks' cover picture of Palin? Sexist, sexy, or just confirming that Newsweek ceased covering "news" a long time ago?

Ana Marie Cox: Embarrassing and sad. I wonder how the women on the staff there felt about it -- not just because I DO think it was sexist (please don't tell me the cheesecake picture of Obama on the cover of the Washingtonian was equivalent), but because they're journalists. I assume the men on staff didn't think about it at all.


Arlington, VA: Do you think Obabma's worst nightmare would be a race against Palin? Even with a strong economy, his advisers must believe he'd be in for the fight of his life, no?

Ana Marie Cox: Uhm, no, I don't think Obama believes that.

More than one WH staffer has pledged to max out to her campaign should she actually run.


Centreville VA: I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this, but why, why, why is your half-baked review still online? If, as you say, you were on an impossible deadline, then your editor has left you hanging in the breeze to take all the blame yourself. Have you seen the comments you've been getting? Seems like pretty poor treatment by the Post.

Ana Marie Cox: Poor treatment of me, or of the book? One could argue both, I guess. I appreciated the opportunity to review the book -- and once it became clear that I would be on a 4 hour deadline, I asked for more time. (Mr. Contenetti received the book before me.) But the WP was pretty devoted to the idea of "dueling reviews" and so they asked me to get in what I could, even if it was a "riff."

I decided to make clear the circumstances in the review/riff rather than claim to have done the impossible... For some reason, people are reacting as though I should have lied? I guess?

This is an interesting test case for how old-new media hybrids can/should handle breaking news and short versus long form journalism. I think we've all learned something.


Silver Spring, MD: "More than one WH staffer has pledged to max out to her campaign should she actually run."

I'm sorry, could you explain what this statement means? Thanks.

Ana Marie Cox: Meaning, they will give money to her campaign up the maximum allowed by federal law ($2k), that is how badly they want her to be the nominee. Because, see, (shhhh): they suspect she will be easy to beat.


Why is the Newsweek cover sexist?: She POSED in shorts willingly. If she didn't want that picture out there for public consumption, she didnt have to pose for it. (FYI, I'm a very liberal woman, so you understand where I'm coming from.)

Ana Marie Cox: She POSED for "Runner's World" magazine. An entirely different context and an entirely different message.


Sexist covers : You mean Newsweek, unlike every other media outlet under the sun, shouldn't subordinate everything else, including profesional integrity, to the MAKING OF MONEY? Yeah, that's beyond the pale, all right. They should be ashamed to be wasting time on this stuff.

Ana Marie Cox: Dude, I didn't say whether they should or shouldn't have done it, I just named the action taken. If that's the route they want to go, well, good luck with that. Nothing else newsmagazines have tried has worked!


Austin, TX: How do you intend to reclaim the time you have lost/spent reading the Palin book?

Ana Marie Cox: You're sweet to ask, but, all told, including this chat, Palin's book has only taken up 5 hours of my life. I did however, spend a WEEK on the campaign trail with her... if anyone is offering trips to the Aspen Ideas festival or something, well, I can make time.


Arlington VA: Could you do a "I read the book so you don't have to" rundown for us? Or point us to a good one?

Ana Marie Cox: This seems like a great question to end on. I am still working my way through that last 150 pages, so I can't give you a complete run-down, BUT if you are looking for a good book loosely based on a real political event: Run, don't walk, to your account and order the now-mostly-out-of-print "The Gay Place." It's by Billy Lee Brammer, former speechwriter/comm director for LBJ and while it takes place in an alternate universe where LBJ was governor of Texas and not President, it is the best book I've ever read about what Washington is like -- the personalities, the parties, the backroom deals and the strange eddys of friendship and rivalry that come up between members of the press and pols. Great, great writing and superb insights about people and politics.

And with that... thanks so much for stopping by everyone. Lots of great questions and comments I couldn't get to. (Looking at you, Centreville!) Go see Matt's chat now!


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