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You know how Sarah Palin said Paul Revere warned the British? Well, he did. Now, who looks stupid?

Sarah Palin

You may have heard recently something about that Sarah Palin telling a reporter that Paul Revere warned the British on his famous rousing revolutionary ride.

Now, that so many Americans have wallowed in their smug confirmation that Palin is an idiot unqualified for anything but Paul Revere thinks about something paulreverefactsdotcomrepeating sixth-grade history, how far, wide and fast do you think the contradictory news will spread that the former governor of Alaska was indeed correct?

That the Republican non-candidate, in fact, knew more about the actual facts of Revere's midnight ride than all those idiots unknowingly revealing their own ignorance by laughing at her faux faux pas? How secretly embarrassing this must be, to be forced to face that you're dumber than the reputed dummy.

As it happens, though, such phenomena are regular occurrences in American politics, reminding consumers of news to be wary when some fresh story seems to fit contemporary assumptions so absolutely perfectly.

The well-known fable is Revere's late-night ride to warn fellow revolutionaries that....

...the British were coming. Less known, obviously, is the rest of the evening's events in which Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution's inevitable victory.

Palin knew this. The on-scene reporters did not and ran off like Revere to alert the world to Palin's latest mis-speak, which wasn't.

Like a number of famous faux gaffes in American politics, the facts of the situation no longer really matter.

The initial impression was eagerly grabbed by so many, starting with the reporter and millions of others gleefully sharing the story that reinforced their beliefs and/or desires.

This phenomenon is actually not a new one in American politics, although its immediate spread is obviously hastened by the Internet. Speaking of which, Al Gore did not invent it. Nor did he claim to, as often as you've heard otherwise.

In 1999, the hapless former journalist, who should have known to make a better word choice, told CNN that in Congress he "took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Democrat Gore never used the word "invented." That was part of another willful misinterpretation that fit expectations of Gore's boasts and was gleefully spread by opponents as further proof of his unseemly hubris. It lives on to this day.Sarah Palin boards her bus 6-1-11

Perhaps you remember how one day during a photo op President George H.W. Bush was overheard asking a store checkout clerk how this price scanner thing worked?

That quote was immediately transmitted as proof of how disconnected that Republican chief executive was, that he had no knowledge of something as ordinary as a checkout scanner.

The fact is, asking such inane and often obvious questions as "what are you doing here?" is a bipartisan ploy used by politicians to fill the awkward time void they are hanging around someone working while photographers snap their photos several hundred times.

President Obama likely said much the same thing last Friday in that Toledo Chrysler plant when for the benefit of nearby photographers he feigned interest watching assembly-line worker Anthony Davis install a dashboard instrument panel. (See photo below)

A classic example of this faux faux pas was in 1992 when Vice President Dan Quayle agreed to participate in a New Jersey classroom spelling bee.

Working from a placard, Quayle corrected one sixth-grader by telling him to add an "e" to "potato." Journalists gleefully noted the spelling misteak. And Quayle's dunce hat was glued in place.

Trouble is, that mis-spelled placard was actually written out by the classroom teacher herself, either through her own ignorance or, a few suspect, some sly political set-up. Quayle knew he hadn't written it and thought the error was the point of the lesson.

And because the classroom spelling bit was a last-minute addition, aides who would have foreseen the everlasting damage of their boss inexplicably adding a mistake to a student's work did not know what the placard said. Quayle subsequently forbade them from explaining the error to the media, for fear of embarrassing the teacher.

One of the immutable laws of public communications in politics and other fields is, if you have to explain something, you lose. Seeking to explain you were for something before being against it simply digs a deeper Obama watches Chrysler employee anthony davis work on assembly line 6-3-11hole.

This time the mistake for Palin, who used to be accused of dodging reporters' questions, was bothering to answer such an amateur media gotcha question in a noisy, moving crowd. Better would have been a simple dismissive and cheery, "You're kidding, right?" Such are the ongoing lessons for primary candidates. Which she isn't now, of course.

Early in a previous race for the Republican presidential nomination almost 12 years ago, then Texas Gov. George W. Bush was in a jammed New Hampshire airport meeting room, answering questions from local media. Apropos of nothing, one reporter (perhaps prompted by an opponent's camp) asked Bush his pre-written gotcha: Name the new president of Pakistan.

Obviously, Pervez Musharraf had nothing to do with New Hampshire issues and is similar to some Democratic candidates flubbing the name of Russia's then prime minister during 2008 debates (Dmitry Medvedev).

Bush didn't know the Pakistani leader's name that day and looked clumsy attempting to answer. He could have brushed it away by instantly asking the reporter some arcane political who's-who, laughing off their mutual ignorance and quickly taking the next question. But he didn't and took media lumps for several days.

As everyone now knows, such a splashy gaffe can effectively doom any chance a candidate has of winning two terms in the White House.

Related:

Sarah Palin plays the media like a violin; They'll try to get even

Piper Palin shares her Mom's hot/cold attitude toward the media

Mitt Romney leads in Iowa poll, Sarah Palin comes in second, Ron Paul falls to 7th

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters; Gary Hershorn / Reuters; Jeff Kowalsky / EPA (Obama at Chrysler, June 3).

 
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the accounting from Paul Revere's letter 25 years later (and discounting any possibility of misremeberance or embellishment on his part) in fact demonstrates she's wrong:

"...Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them 'there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.'" (via Boston Herald)

*after* his capture he notified a select group of British soliders that he "had alarmed *the Country* all the way up."

Revere explicitly notes that it was the country which he had warned, was warning with his ride, not the British; his present "warning" to them was after the fact, and at gunpoint.

and it was clearly done without the warning shots and bells which Palin claims. if it was a warning to the British, then they would've already known of the impending resistance, and no need for Revere to explain it upon his capture.

so, the historical record stands: "that woman... is an idiot."

The lame stream media will attack like a pit bull, they are nothing but puppets for Obama to keep him from people knowing the truth. Mrs. Palin had more experience running a state, than the community organizer Obama. We see the media going after any one who may threaten the Obama socialist run thugs. The truth makes them run like cockroach . Go Girl Go!! Sarah chase them give them the scare of their life by exposing them for what they truly are. Liers and cheats.

CONTEXT: defenders of Palin may have some leverage if she didn't follow up "warned the British that they werent going to be taking away our arms," with "by ringing those bells and riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that they were gana be secure and we were gana be free." This is verbatim! Context is everything when reporting news- bad form, Malcolm. Who paid you to write this? Palin confused her story, but at least she said the important stuff about guns and freedom in order to get in good with her NRA audience... can I get work at the LA Times, and at least get paid to say the wrong things?

"A classic example of this faux faux pas was in 1992 when Vice President Dan Quayle agreed to participate in a New Jersey classroom spelling bee.

Working from a placard, Quayle corrected one sixth-grader by telling him to add an "e" to "potato." Journalists gleefully noted the spelling misteak. And Quayle's dunce hat was glued in place.

Trouble is, that mis-spelled placard was actually written out by the classroom teacher herself, either through her own ignorance or, a few suspect, some sly political set-up. Quayle knew he hadn't written it and thought the error was the point of the lesson."

Well, all I gotta say is that the teacher was a product of a failed public education system OR the misspelling was intentional. I'd say it was a toss up between the two...

Palin got it right because stories about the Revolution and gun rights are a frequently featured topic in gun magazines, which she undoubtedly grew up reading because she's been a hunter since she was small. Then add in her natural curiosity, as the defacto head of the Tea Party, about the events surrounding the Boston Tea Party. Yes, there were bells ringing and American shots warned the British that we were forming, which is what prompted Paul Revere's British captor, Major Mitchell of the 5th regiment, to cut him loose.

All this would be moot if it hadn't been Christmas time and Paul's horse wasn't decked out in sleigh bells. The bells the bells. The British heard the bells and pulled him over for not being politically correct and inclusive of all faiths.
The writer of this op/ed piece is bending the reality of the situation as much as I am.

The LATimes has certainly slipped since I read here last. Palin has even less of a grip on American history than Andrew Malcolm has on recent internet history. Yeah, after Revere was captured he told the British what they were facing, but that's not why he set out on that famous ride. Any sixth grade student who passed American History has more knowledge than the Teabagging Queen (or Andrew Malcolm, apparently).

@Peter Bond....'Whish"? Mr Dunderhead, When you're attempting to criticize someone's spelling, please use spell-check first. That is all.
@Nina...nicely done.

I don't give a rats butt if she flubbed or not , she is HOT!! Sarah can balance my budget or rout out any aliens i have hiding in my southern border anytime. I would love to see her running around with a piece of cloth wrapped around her head as a bandanna wearing nothing more than a bandoleer and a pair of Daisy Dukes protecting our borders. Go Sarah!!

I don't give a rats butt if she flubbed or not , she is HOT!! Sarah can balance my budget or rout out any aliens i have hiding in my southern border anytime. I would love to see her running around with a piece of cloth wrapped around her head as a bandanna wearing nothing more than a bandoleer and a pair of Daisy Dukes protecting our borders. Go Sarah!!

So what you are saying is every teacher in every school in America, taught every kid wrong to cover for her you say.

Nonsense and damage control. Never mind quibbling over historical details, it was quite evident that Palin was trying to regurgitate some historical facts that she had just heard that very day, and did a darn poor job it it, too. How anyone can listen to the mishmash of mangled syntax and lack of linear thinking that constantly comes out of her mouth and think for one second that she has an organized mind is beyond me. To go further and try to inflict her on the United States and the rest of the planet by even suggesting that she should ever wield the authority and responsibility of the Oval Office is approaching an attempted crime against humanity.

Andrew Malcolm, yet another apologist for Sarah Palin speaks. Paul Revere did, indeed boast of the Militias readiness, and predict to the British Soldiers who captured him that the Colonies would win their independence. This is not the same, however, as taking his 'midnight ride' for the purpose of 'warning the British', that they wouldn't be 'taking our guns'.
Ms. Palin's answer was pure gibberish, and not a rational telling of any 'truth' about Silversmith and Patriot Revere's place in history. Look at the video, Mr. Malcolm, see her 'deer in the headlights' look, listen to her near panicked tone of voice and her desperate, rambling delivery and ask yourself honestly: Do you want this person in the White House?

Paul Revere was taunting the British, not warning them. Is our educational system so broken that people can't tell the difference? Sarah Palin will do or say anything, including intentionally misrepresenting American history, to support her pro-gun agenda. Even most Republicans think she's nutty.

1. The author of this article didn't bother to listen to what Palin said which was the patently false “He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells, and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.” it's embarrassing that a Times editor would allow even an editorial to print such falsehoods.

2. The best way to guarantee Obama reelection would be for the Republicans to nominate Palin. Since here approval rating in her own party is well below 50%, unfortunately that will never happen.

What a low moment for the LA times. Do you really call this writing? Reads like mad magazine..

I do love revisionist history!

Obama got Bin Laden

while

Andrew Malcolm still waits for his hour on Fox News.


http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/andrew_malcolm

Anyone defending Palin publicly is actually fighting GOP stalwarts. So that
puts Andrew Malcolm squarely in birthers/flat earther zone.

Unfortunately, there was no American militia awaiting the red coats, as Revere had mentioned in his bluff to save his rear flank. We know an idiot when we see one, and now we see two, the author and the proverbial idiot of American political ineptitude, Palin.

Excellent tongue-in-cheek satire, Mr Malcolm. One of the best for a while.

I was sure you'd lost completely lost your marbles until your little spelling "misteak". Truly genius, sir. Brilliant!

I applaud the continued embarrassing collapse of the Los Angeles Times.

uh, is the misplaced "e" in "mistake" while describing Quayle's misspelling deliberate? Either way, it made me chuckle.

I am starting to like her. Never thought I would, but I do. She has courage, unlike the flip flopper in the White House. And what I like even more is that she makes the liberal media look like total fools. If I had to pick between her or Obama, I would pick her.

LOL ohhhkay.

You assert that Palin "knew this". Every follow up comment that she made was in defending her error. One does not defend an error, one asserts the truth.

I'm going to have to agree with the other commenters saying that this article is a stretch. Paul Revere's ride was about warning Adams and Hancock that they were under threat of arrest- he warned cities along the way that the British were coming, though that wasn't the main purpose of the ride. Did he tell the British we were armed? Yes, but that was after he was captured and he deliberately overstated the militia's size to scare them away.

Palin misspoke. She could have simply said that she'd meant to say colonists, and moved on. But she and her supporters have dug in to try to pull out obscure facts to make her look right. The number of "uhhhs" and "ummms" in her comments on Revere show that she didn't know it right off the top of her head and was having a hard time recalling the facts.

Sure. Next you'll swear he rang the bells and fired the shots, too.

Calling people stupid because they quote what S.Palin said rather than what you claim she meant?

I notice you never included her actual words in your commentary. let me help.

"He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."

So if by saying "as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells." she ACTUALLY meant "after his ride was over when he was captured and questioned" then, yes...she absolutely nailed it and we are all stupid. I apologize for taking seriously what she said rather than what she meant.

I will attempt to not take anything she says seriously from now on.

I'm still going to vote for her if she runs because
A. She's so damn hot
B. Has all the right answers
C. Can get herself out of a pinch with just a smile and a "betcha".
(Imagine what that will mean for the rest of us!)

Andrew Malcom provides a lengthy article providing several instances in which politicians have been misquoted, misinterpreted or taken out of context by the media. I agree it happens all too frequently. However, Mrs. Palin was not taken out of context. She was not set-up by a reporter playing "gotcha". She wasn't even asked about American history.
Mr. Malcom tells us that Palin was correct in her saying that Revere was warning the British. He says:

"Less known, obviously, is the rest of the evening's events in which Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution's inevitable victory".

It is on these few words that the premise of this article is supposed to hang.

How does the author's claim prove Palin was correct? He should have cited an historical account or a piece of scholarly research rather than leave us to take his word for it. He knows what he writes are not enough to prove anything. Perhaps the reason Mr. Malcom blithely ignored the rules of "journalism 101' was because he simply could not point to any recognized expert in the history of The American Revolution who gives credence to Palin's revisionism.

The "gotcha" question to which you refer was “What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?” Ms. Palin didn't have to say anything at all about Paul Revere, nor was she put on the spot. Didn't you check this out before writing this blog?

I am terribly sorry, but Sarah Palin had no clue what she was talking about.

First of all she stammered and hawed all through her answer like the air-headed, adle-brained beauty queen that she is, searching desperately for an answer she had no clue how to provide. To misspeak during conversation is normal, to mix up our words frequently is annoying but not abnormal. But to pretend to know something you don't is simply an attempt to fool all of the people. And Sarah has a history of doing this ALL of the time.

Secondly, if she is so inarticulate that she cannot communicate her message, or any message for that matter, then she is simply not qualified to hold high office, no matter what kind of Tea Party poster girl she claims to be. If she cannot think on her feet with a simple question from a reporter, and has to have the answers put into her mouth like those cue cards she marks on the palms of her hands then she's not capable of thinking for herself. This was one of the primary traits of the last pResident, and look where he got us.

Thirdly, Paul Revere did not go riding purposely to get caught by the British! Of course he was aware of the danger and we as a nation have built a legend to honor his ferocity, as we should. But for Palin to pull down that mantle for herself on what is tantamount to a Trump-like publicity stunt dishonors the memory not only of Paul Revere but of every single person who fought and died to preserve this country from British tyranny!

The men and women who died to create our nation did not die so that future politicians could pretend to be someone they are not. The American People can see right through her, and it is long past time for Sarah to take a good look at herself.

This article also twists the real truth. Ms. Palin, when saying that Revere "warned" the British. clearly meant that Revere went on his ride INTENDING to warn the British (which he obviously didn't ) mis spoke out of her usual complete and total ignorance of anything of substance. That Revere, subsequent to being captured, may have told his captors of the readyness of their opponent does not equate to his warning them of anything. Only one thing remains certain Sarah Palin is a joke and the real trasvesty is that this self serving money grubbing quitter gets any mention anywhere.

Sarah Palin still looks stupid.

One moron turning one grain of accuracy (Revere ended up telling the British that those armed colonists they were already fighting would oppose them) on a beach of idiotic bullshit into a defense of another moron named Palin.

And suddenly the rationale behind the Electoral College is illuminated for the world to see. Thanks Palin! Without you the question of, "Why wouldn't the founding fathers trust the ignorant masses to pick the President" might be tough to answer.

Actually, you look stupid.

And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let Sarah Palin be the contender for the presidential race. She is a the gift that just keeps on giving for the democrats.

Wow. I bow to Mr. Malcom's decades of experience and his Pulitzer finalist-ness. But he's wrong. Palin is clearly not very bright, and all the eloquently worded apologetics in the world will not change that fact. It's not even so much whether she got the facts right or wrong, it's how she stated them. And I quote, without prettying it up for print or to spare her:

"He who warned uh the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."

Look at the sentence structure. Diagram it. Savor the grammar. Imagine the state of mind of the speaker. People who consistently speak like this are, in fact, not very bright. And Palin speaks like this consistently. Everyone has their moments, but come on. If it walks, talks and quacks like an idiot, it's a idiot.

Dear "Bill":

Citing Alaska's proximity to Russia as her own personal credential to enter the world of Presidential foreign affairs was quite simply ludicrous, and the People knew it. It made as much sense to say she was qualified to be President because she "can see Russia from my house." Which is why it made America laugh so hard when Tina Fey said it, and why it stuck. It revealed the true Palin.

What's even funnier though is that it's been almost three years now and Sarah hasn't changed one bit. So lets all pray the joke is not on us.

How idiotic. Admit it she made a mistake. She didn't and doesn't know anymore than anyone else. What about the bells and the shots comment. Her whole recollection of 3rd grade history is off. If you think your poor excuse of an article is going to convince anyone, think again. It's quite obvious that she was proudly displaying her ignorance. She said three things :bells, shots, warning the British... all wrong. The fact that Paul Revere was apprehended and spilled his guts (so to speak) is not and was not what his ride was about or his intention. Convincing morons that their leader is a moron is proving very difficult. Of course they think she's smart...they're idiots. In a room full of morons, someone is bound to the head moron. It's all relative...

Nah, your stupid for trying to side with her, anyone who would even think about agreeing with that shlub deserves a tire iron to their head.

I say go Sarah...and tell it how it TRULY is. Fake people will never earn my vote, hopefully....hahahaha...she doesn't jump on that banwagon....Awww piss...Lets get real and vote one of us country upstaters in office....That's the only way it will ever be right.

Journalism is dead. Why don't they end it and move on rather than promote trash? Who is Andrew Malcolm, and who, more importantly, is paying him?

Well, Mr. Malcolm, it appears as though the LA Times readers are a little too smart for your desperate attempt at boosting Sarah Palin and her perpetual dimwittedness. Picking and choosing fragments of her statement in order to render it a little more true still falls far short of the reality. Face it, she's not an intelligent person, nor does she care to be. She's clever, but you don't have to be aware of facts to be clever.
To even dig up that old Quayle flub and waste not only our time but your own in trying to re-correct the situation is only further proof of your desperation and the desperation of all Palin supporters who will march like the proverbial lemmings off the nearest cliff in blind alliance.
Wake up and move on.

Really? Seriously? Andrew clearly belongs in a battle of wits with Mrs. Palin. Of course, the crickets would win.

Misteak - dumb reporter. And palin will always be dumb. Conservatives should stop defending her.

Thank You! Honesty is rare in Journalism these days and this was refreshing and very interesting... Covered a lot of past mis-quotes... Palin is attacked at all points and even when she is right she gets degraded... thank you very much

Our country, uh, is not in dire straits! The ship, uh, is not sinking. As all is well, uh, it is good for the captain to play golf each weekend.

Go ahead, uh, make fun of Sarah Palin. So what if she, uh, has a magnificent record of reform and success – it was all luck!

The current Golfer in Chief deserves our support because…well, uh, because he deserves it!

"It is incontestable and deplorable that [African Americans] have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."

And Sarah Palin, uh, is white!

I think you were too happy with your historical fact finding and overlooked what the story is really about. It's not just about what she said, but how she said it. She speaks with an air of uncertainty, but also forced arrogance, that is truly entertaining to watch, and totally justifiable to be cynical of. Who cares if she remembered some facts from her history tour? Do you really think she knows US history?

You Palin haters are insane!- She didn't say anything about him getting captured ergo Palin thinks he rode out to tell the British soldiers, what a dummy-and she's not even blond!

This was a comment made wile she was touring, it was something said that was obviously not planned, she was answering questions on the move, and while her answer may have been incomplete, only haters like you people would conclude that she actually believes the PURPOSE of Revere's ride was to warn the British Soldiers. Obama and Biden are walking Gaffe machines and you people NEVER hold either one of them to the same rigorous standards you reserve for Republicans and conservatives in general and Palin in particular. Whether he's visiting all 57 states, suggesting that a child with asthma requires a breathalyzer, or addressing the fallen soldiers he sees before him today in the crowd on memorial day. Obama is a genius and Palin a moron...you people are the morons and your obsession with destroying Palin is sick and disgusting! I hope she wins the presidency just so I can watch your heads explode!

Mr. Malcolm
You have gone to great lengths to revise the statement of Sarah Palin regarding Paul Revere to make it look correct. She did not say what you have reported. The question is why you feel the need to defend her.

 
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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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