Robert Stein 1924-2014

Contact Information

If anyone has comments, questions or condolences, please feel free to send a private message to the family at robertstein@optonline.net.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pitying Palin

A new Vanity Fair takedown disheartens an aged former editor who in his time has seen too many dreary "I didn't get the story because nobody would talk to me" magazine profiles.

"Even as Sarah Palin’s public voice grows louder," the magazine blurbs, "she has become increasingly secretive, walling herself off from old friends and associates, and attempting to enforce silence from those around her. Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits--a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family--and the sadness she has left in her wake."

What follows the admission that "neither Palin nor her current staff would comment for this article" is a string of insights from former aides, "friends," hotel bellhops and her about-to-be biographer Joe McGinniss, who has rented a house next door, which may or may not have a view of the Palins' windows.

McGinniss was there at the dawn of peeping-Tom journalism with his "Selling of the President," which in 1968 supplanted as a best-seller Theodore White's meticulously reported series of "Making of the President" books during the Kennedy years.

The level of such reporting can be judged by his thesis then that Nixon's media handlers were manipulative geniuses when, in fact, they managed to spend millions turning his 15-point polling advantage after the conventions into a November victory by less than one percent.

McGinniss' book next year may very well make the Vanity Fair piece look like a valentine, but the meaning of both goes beyond the question of loving or hating their subject.

Sarah Palin, who has voluntarily made herself into a media creature by abandoning politics to make millions flaunting herself in public, is fair game as an object of reporting.

But what does it say about the thousands of words in Vanity Fair that Gail Collins' takeaway from the piece is that it "suggests that Palin does still cut costs by being an extremely bad tipper. The piece also resurrects the charge that she does not actually hunt, and claims that Todd had to scour the neighborhood to find some moose to put in that chili when a TV crew came to call"?

All this scrounging for Palinalia echoes the time of McGinnis' first book in the late 1960s when a would-be journalist named A. J. Weberman was featured in Esquire as a "garbologist," who reported on the rich and famous by rooting through their rubbish, reconstructing their inner lives from the evidence of egg shells, coffee grounds and discarded scrap paper.

As journalism, it also recalls the expression GIGO from the early days of judging the reliability of computer output--garbage in, garbage out.

Update: You can count on Sarah Palin to be abrasively annoying, even when she's in the right. Her reaction to the Vanity Fair piece is to blast "impotent, limp and gutless reporters" who use anonymous sources, thereby giving credence to all those reports therein about her hair-trigger temper. Her grievances could have been much better expressed without impugning the author's cojones or courage, but it doesn't seem to be in her emotional range to respond with more sorrow than anger.

3 comments:

ed waldo said...

"But what does it say about the thousands of words in Vanity Fair that Gail Collins' takeaway from the piece is that it "suggests that Palin does still cut costs by being an extremely bad tipper. The piece also resurrects the charge that she does not actually hunt, and claims that Todd had to scour the neighborhood to find some moose to put in that chili when a TV crew came to call"?"

Um, that it wasn't the focus of Collins' column?

Seriously, if you're going to make highfalutin' geezer wisdom points, posing a rhetorical question based on false premises doesn't exactly send your credibility stock through the ceiling.

Seriously, Collins' article in no wise makes the point that you claim it does.

Dr. Psycho said...

I would say that what kind of tipper you are is a very useful piece of information.

And it doesn't surprise me in the least to hear that Palin isn't good at it. It fits right in with every other badthing I've heard about her.

-- Dr. Psycho (formerly known as misterniceguy1960)

russian dating said...

I agree with 'ed waldo'. Well said.