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


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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-far 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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