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Sarah Palin plays the media like a violin: Her turn now

Sarah palin one nation Bus As Seen From the Rear 5-31-11

Sarah Palin, with her counterintuitive secret publicity bus tour, is demonstrating one of the most important rules of American politics:

There is nothing the U.S. media wants more than something it thinks it can't have. Hence the power of news leaks that manipulate the thrust of their initial presentation. Hard-to-get is a rigid rule of human behavior. Ask any teenage boy or girl.

And there are few things more sweet to Palin and her fervent supporters cheering their TV sets this week than the image of a hungry know-it-all "lamestream media" caravan of 15 or more vehicles traipsing along behind her red-white-and-blue bus enroute to they-know-not-where to do they-know-not-what.

To make it worse, each one of the frustrated, confused chasers knows that Fox News' Greta Van Susteren is....

...riding along with the not-yet-and-possibly-never Republican presidential candidate, filing exclusive conversations for her audience to gobble up that only enhance Palin's already million-dollar value to FNC. Can you hear the teeth grinding? While Palin smiles and waves away?

The day's best line came from a CBS News producer who tried to claim that the lack of information from Palin's lumbering bus was endangering the dozen competing media vehicles trailing behind, uninvited.

As Michelle Malkin puts it so succinctly here, "The boys behind the bus."

Speaking of CBS, Katie Couric's unemployed now. And forget that front porch in Alaska. Sarah Palin can see revenge from her rear window.

Not that such a thing would ever cross the mind of the 2008 vice presidential candidate whose instant popularity and inexperienced gaffes invited so much media mocking and political hostility back when she needed those people to get out John McCain's campaign message.

Polls schmolls. The tables are turned now. And it's the best political entertainment of the campaign so far.

The media on campaigns is accustomed to being courted, even catered to with assigned airplane seats, meals, transportation to events, seats waiting, transcripts, the upcoming advance schedule, self-serving secrets confided.

But now they want/need Palin more than vice versa. They know the ratings when she's on. And they know bosses love ratings. So, they follow along in the exhaust.

"I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media," Palin said on Fox. "I think that it would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician and doing things the way it’s always been done with the media, in terms of relationships with them.”

And if this bus junket sucks some or all of the oxygen out of Mitt Romney's big announcement Thursday, so be it.

It's Joe Biden's turn to be in Europe this week (Italy through Saturday to celebrate 150 years of unification). So President Obama will have to meet with the Republicans on this debt ceiling silliness that they want tied to significant budget cuts.

Forget petty Palin vengeance. This strategy fits the independent woman-of-the-people optics Palin wants now, much as she's relied for months on Facebook and Twitter to spoonfeed the public and media exactly and only what she wants out there. Talk of "true change." Restoring America, not transforming it.

Whether Palin runs for office again or not, she is a brand. If she can help shape the summer's GOP discussion agenda in a so-farSarah palin in the rolling thunder veterans motorcycle parade 5-29-11 bland field of folks simply by being and occasionally speaking out, why bother with the crap that comes with official campaigning?

Who knows what lightning might strike come August? And if not, who will she endorse among Republicans? She could be an influential king -- or queen -- maker. At worst, she's more famous and controversial for TV and the next book.

Tuesday, as our astute buddy Tony Pierce wrote here, Palin announced that she was in favor of ending all energy subsidies, including ethanol. So the afternoon's discussion topic was her, even though Tim Pawlenty said the same thing about ethanol last week to little notice. And Tuesday many who dislike Palin were saying, well, you know, I kinda agree with her there.

This unorthodox, to say the least, strategy also fits Palin's go-with-her-gut political M.O. Who'd have thought going in that a Wasilla city councilwoman would become mayor? Or make such a stir on the oil and gas commission? Or challenge an entrenched aged state Republican establishment and its incumbent governor? And actually win that primary?

And then in the general, defeat a better-known Democrat trying to return to the governor's office? And remember too when Palin's surprise gubernatorial resignation halfway through the first term terminated, according to the media, any chance that she'd have any role in American politics ever again?

Judging by the attempted coverage of her not-so-secret "One Nation" bus tour this week by the same media, apparently not.


Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have a pizza summit in New York

And here's video of their encounter:

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Jeff Fusco / Getty Images (Palin's bus as seen from the rear); Matt Rourke / Associated Press (Palin and daughter Piper talk with tourists at the Liberty Bell Tuesday); Reuters (Palin in the Rolling Thunder veterans parade, May 29).

Comments () | Archives (358)

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Every hateful article you guys put out like this doesn't help bring the other side down, it just shows how biased the LA Times is.

Sarah Palin said she loves the smell of exhaust emissions. Meida tag-alongs are now acquiring the taste.

Lest we all forget, like Palin, Greta Van Susteren is not the brightest bulb in the box either. One lost Alaska by ignorance and then the VP job and the other couldn't put OJ away with a courtroom full of evidence. They do, however, make for your average intelligence republican voter a very popular combination as that voter actually believes that reality TV is real and Limbaugh never lies, a daily occurance in the real world.

She's an irresponsible, egotistical woman who gives no thought as to how she could be endangering others through her actions. The article mentions the media caravan, but doesn't talk about the chaos created, as in Philadelphia, when the reporters don't know where she's going to show up and run madly about trying to find her. If someone gets hurt, guess who's going to deny she's responsible for any of it and cast aspersions on anyone who tries to say she is--just as she did when Kathy Gifford was shot. Such behavior would not be entirely surprising from an immature, aspiring Hollywood star; it is disturbing from someone who makes any pretense of aspiring to a responsible position.


So Sarah has hired herself a great team of PR types, who are carefully creating her visage (this time). And sadly, a whole bunch of people will buy into it.

Problem is, life in the Oval Office isn't exactly scripted, and sometimes you have to have the stuff to speak well, lead effectively and make great decisions without the elaborate pre-planning, the media filtering, and the careful staging. And that's where the wanna-bes always fall apart. Kind of like the current guy in office.

Folks, Sarah won't bring those leadership qualities to the job. Can't blame her for it - she doesn't have it. We're being asked to "pay no attention" to whoever's behind the curtain pulling the levers for Sarah, just as a bunch of voters did in '08.

This election's already shaping up to be a rock and a hard place. Sigh.

Whod-a-thunkit? An LA Times guy hitting the Sarah Palin nail on the head. Of course, he isn't a typical LA Times Obamabot, having worked PR for Laura Bush, but it is amazing that he is still employed. Great story, though I've been saying much the same thing all over the web. When Karl Rove opined that Sarah Palin thinks the rules of politics don't apply to her, he was right, even if wrong in the thrust that she was wrong. In fact, the rules of politics don't apply, because she isn't a typical politician. She may or may not choose to seek the nomination, may or may not win it, may or may not win the general election, but she has proven the Democratic and Republican Establishments wrong that she isn't a force to be reckoned with, and they hate it and her. I'm sure the buggy whip manufacturers hated the automobile, too.

Someone needs to remind Mr. Malcolm that media is a plural noun, so it takes a corresponding verb. What he said was:

"There is nothing that the U.S. media wants more than something it thinks it can't have."

What he meant to say was:

There is nothing the U.S. media want more than something they think they can't have.

I'm recurrently surprised by the number of people who work in the media but don't know how properly to refer to their chosen profession. It makes me wonder what else they're getting wrong in the story.

With GPS now the bus can be track for a cruise missile strike by the US NAVY,if she can put targets on people,the people can put survey markers on her bus.

Im sure people would pay for a missile for that purpose she is hated more than


It would be a shame to see the bus over run by cannibals in the mid west,the hills have eyes part 3.

then sell the bus for parts.

Yes she's just like Lindsey Lohan, and about as qualified to be President. Just shows how pathetic our media is today that they will follow this egomaniac around.

How about this - if she's not doing anything newsworthy, don't cover her? Hint: posting on Facebook is not news. Taking a bus ride is not news.

LOFL. Great piece. If the media weenies can't handle the dangerous road trip they can always follow Sarah safely on Twitter.

RUN! SARAH! RUN! (we need the comic relief)

I tend to disagree, she's not playing the press like a violin. More like a Stratocaster. And the other candidates are playing air guitars.

America today knows mainstream media reports biased non-sense about America. You have lost your credibility CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, we the people of America do not believe your reports, your journalism, your stupidity!

Come 2012 your love-fest with America's first and last African president will be finished with the return to normalcy when America votes in a true American Patriot President, and who will that be?

just wait and see, mark my words, God Bless America, Amen

She plays the media like a violin? We guess that would explain her screechy voice. Thanks for clearing that up. Now, why are you covering this woman again?

Real sad that The L.A. Times no longer reports news. These days they just report on spin given to them by their handlers.

The idea that Palin could be the next president is ludicrous. I guess Aristotle was correct in his assertion that only the educated should be involved in politics.

Just looking at the large CNN bus tailing along behind reinforces my belief that the media has absolutely no redeeming features what-so-ever. Question her intellegence all you want, but there is no doubt she is smarter than all reporters combined (including print and TV).

Please cover her in the entertainment section. That is all she is.

Please, don't feed the trolls, Sarah is clearly trolling for attention and not running for President or she would have resigned from Fox.

Way to go, Ms. Palin! Let the Media brew their fresh hot black tea. Who needs those liars anyway?

Good point. Unfortunately the "boys behind" are not capable of co-operatig and leaving the bus alone for a few days. They won't have to wait long until their phones ring with a mysterious, "anonymous" tip as to S Palin's whereabouts.

Yes, that fiddle is being plucked.

Tell em Joe! These two deserve more respect! Palin showed how quitting a cushy government job can be parlayed into millions of dollars in income. That's the sort of private sector executive know-how this country needs.

And Trump has taken his daddy's dollars and grew them, then bankrupted, then came back, then bankrupted, over and over again. That takes gumption! Plus he fooled the lamestream media for months with his "I might run" fakery, driving up rating for this TV show. He's a businessman and leader with the con-artist skills this country needs!!!!!

I just don't see this as a hateful article

Well, she thinks she's on a dogsled with the media hounds at her beck and call, but the truth is she's alone and surrounded by some wolves, plenty of adoring puppies and a bunch of pack dogs. Once something better comes along they'll chase that and she and her tour will slide to a lonely stop. Thirty percent of America can make her rich and feel powerful, but the other 70 percent will never take her seriously, and that's where the sleeping dog lies.

A disgusting topic and a disgusting "reporter." It's surprising you haven't been invited onto the bus.

Where was all this scrutiny when Obama was running in 2008? Sarah hasn't even announced she's running and the media is already licking it's chops. Anyone with half a brain can see what a bunch of political hacks you guys in the MSM media have become.

CBS whines about being treated "like paparazzi" you ARE paparazzi and should be treated as such. Start acting like reporters and maybe you could get some where. If I were a conservative politician, I wouldn't speak to the media either. You know Obama does this crap too (Foxnews?), maybe report that? I doubt it.

What's been hateful is what has been said about her up until now. I hope she runs and wins just to keep you libtards hacked off for a few more years. HA!

Mr. Malcolm writes like he is above the fray. Mr. Malcolm and the democrat controlled media have Ms. Palin "stuck in their craw", and I and most of America love it.Sadly, I think the left has been successful in "Quayling" Ms. Palin but she is a symbol and rallying point for many americans who work hard for their family's success,financial security and individual freedoms. She is a voice for the shrinking not expanding of government intrusion in our lives. So continue your rants and attacks, we've heard them all and still love her.

I love this woman.

I love her forthrightness, her quick wit, her common sense, her love of country, and her love of family.

She is my president. If Obama wants me to do something, have him call Sarah, and Sarah can tell me.

RUN Sarah!

Excellent analysis!

she may play the media like a violin,but she is way off key.she claims to be a christian,but loves to play the birther issue about the president,when in fact that has been proved a lie.and she supports ryans plan to destroy medicare,i know she is not going to run for president,she's got another agenda playing out to the media.the fact is she loves attention,her and trump are playing out like a couple of comedians,

As a libertarian, I am not sure how the LA Times did Palin wrong in this article. I think they pointed out the obvious, which isn't of journalistic value.

WOW! What an objective article and I liked it. The Gov doe not usually get such respect the respect that she deserves. Whether she runs or not I hope she shakes u the GOP they are a bunch of loosers.

I thought the piece was balanced and very fair to Palin and she is correct: She doesn't owe the media anything. The author didn't bash Palin for her tactics but instead showed just how much influence she still has with the media. The point about Palin wanting to end all energy subsidies was a good one; many people on both sides agree but few have had the courage to say so. I do agree that she will have way more influence on the sidelines as more of a spokeswoman for the average fly over American than actually running. In my opinion she is probably having way more fun at this point and being President isn't much of a picnic.


No, the media is being played like a two-cylinder engine: leaf-blower, chainsaw, vespa, etc.

Palin has played the LA Times like a violin for years now, glad you finally figured it out.

You mean Tina Fey's skit pretending to be Palin and saying,"I can seeing Russia from my window?"
So are you folks at the L.A. Times dishonest or incompetent for continuing to report that Palin said what she didn't?
Don't answer, we already know.
At least Palin knows how many States there are in the U.S. and she knows what year it is and she doesn't use a stolen SS# belonging to one Thomas Woods and her B.C. is not a bad photoshop of 7 layers and 50 elements so turned 90 deg and scaled different.

Palin is the ONLY candidate I will volunteer for, raise money for, knock on doors for.... why you ask? cause she IS one of US, you know, the regular taxpaying public. Of all the articles I have read on her lately, I actually think this one has been the most fair. So credit to the LA Times.

One thing a Palin campaign would do is seriously hurt the MSN. She won't do your interviews, nor use you or even care about you. So careful how you treat her or she may expose you further. Just sayin....

She quit Alaska and the United States does not need a quitter that had rather make millions selling books and giving speeches than doing the job she was elected to do. We already have a President that is good at making speeches that isn't doing the job that that he said he would do.

how can this be possible?!?! Like all the great civilizations...this is the beginning of the end!

You Go Sarah. We Love you. The reason they want to smear and scuttle Sarah is that they FEAR her. She loves this country and she is willing to get roughed up everywhere she goes to fight for us. Great American!!!

We love you Sarah and love it that you have the lamestream media all pissed off. They will never like you anyway so you might as well keep on doing what you are doing, great job.

I'd like to know why the author of this piece is comparing Sarah Palin to a teenager???? And why doesn't he also find common ground with Obama behaving as an adolescent, a pathetically childish, vindicative and peevish baby with all the attendant temper tantrums and other equally questionable behavior???? ...apparently looking in the mirror at their own chosen 'One' is forbidden...Mr. Malcolm, you and your media companions in crime are so pathetic, it is stunning to watch you...behaving like children, are the perfect example of exactly that and that you hate Mrs. Palin and palpably so is so like and your kind treated Ronald Reagan in the same contemptuous and childishly inane manner, accusing him of stupidity and senility and then had to stand by and watch while tens of thousands got out on the street and mourned his passing, in California the bastion of liberalism...he spoke of America and individual Americans, as Sarah Palin does...I'm standing by, passing popcorn, as you, the tools and fools of the Democrat party make asses of yourselves while the rest of us laugh at you...and get ready for all the ensuing fun...k

America has had it's fill of Fundamental Change to America, now it's time to Fundamentally Restore America

Sarah's so-called gaffes were fabrications produced by editing days of video recordings down to a few minutes of air time. Think of the technology that produced the Geiko gekko being applied without any scruples and you will know how the old media gangbanged Sarah.

Great column, Andrew. Only minor quibble is that Palin served two-thirds of her term, same as Obama served in his senate term.

Palin can command attention and at some point reporters might actually explore her record and report on her policy positions, as you have done. And, as you point out, even people who dislike her are gonna agree with her policy positions.

Given the state of Obama's economy right now, I wouldn't count Palin out.

Alaska does have a $12 billion surplus right now due directly to her leadership.

Sarah Palin is right. She doesn't owe the media anything. All most of them did is ridicule her, subject her to the harshest, foulest, personal attacks I have ever seen a political candidate subjected to. She is not in office, she is not announcing any candidacy for anything. Therefore she is a private citizen who has the right every other American does to not talk to reporters if she does not feel like it.

You go lady, we are loving it here in Pittsburgh, yes Pittsburgh. You have turned the media into the paparazzi!!!

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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