Sarah Palin: "American Rogue" And Liar?

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[Media Matters For America]

From the moment Sarah Palin was airlifted out of the Alaska hinterlands by John McCain and plopped onto the national stage, she's been telling anyone who will listen how poorly she's been treated by the media, the Democrats, the blogosphere, etc.

After she did her part in scuttling McCain's already foundering campaign, she added to her list of personal persecutors the same McCain staffers who made her a household name in the first place. The conservative media have cheered on her personal pity party every step of the way, adamantly refusing to acknowledge that Sarah Palin -- perfect Sarah Palin, conservatism's hockey-mom messiah -- has done anything wrong.

So it was inevitable that when Palin and her ghostwriter teamed up to produce her newly release memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, it would be anything but a tedious exercise in self-martyrdom. The second half of the book, which recounts her time with McCain and the aftermath of the presidential campaign, is a litany of complaints peppered with absolutions of any errors on her part.

Palin's account of her disastrous interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric consists mainly of attacks on Couric for "badgering" her, "edit[ing] out substantive answers," and trying to "frame a 'gotcha' moment." She chastises McCain campaign staffers for having "no script to begin with," for not following her advice and talking about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and for nurturing the "wardrobe fairy tale" so they could throw her "under the media bus" after the campaign ended.

When not complaining about how ill-treated she was, Palin wildly revised her own history, showcasing her penchant for falsehoods both big and small. She claims that the media were reporting "lies" about the Bridge to Nowhere, when it was she who, from the very start, lied about her own position on the bridge. She claims that she immediately liked the idea of going on Saturday Night Live, even though internal campaign emails show that she was initially reluctant because of the show's "gross" treatment of her family, going so far as to call the SNL crew "whack." She claims that there is no aerial hunting in Alaska, even though she proposed legislation supporting that very practice. The list goes on and on.

But remember, this is Sarah Palin we're dealing with here, and no matter how self-discrediting and ridiculous her book was, the conservative media would leap to her defense, claiming, once again, that she was the victim of a vicious liberal onslaught.

Palin herself got the ball rolling before the book was even released, chastising the Associated Press --which got its hands on a copy prior to the release date-- for assigning 11 reporters to fact-check it, saying that their time would be better spent fact-checking "what's going on with Sheik Mohammed's trial." Palin made no attempt to respond to the several factual errors and distortions the AP found, and neither did Fox News, which picked up where Palin left off and ran a breathless segment wondering why, exactly, the AP had assigned so many reporters to the book.

Then there's Rush Limbaugh, Palin's staunchest defender and perhaps the conservative media personality most disconnected from reality -- two traits that are in no way mutually exclusive. On November 13, Rush proclaimed that Going Rogue is "one of the most substantive policy books I've read." He must have received a special unabridged edition, because to every other observer -- even Fox News campaign reporter/operative Carl Cameron -- the book's policy prescriptions are few and far between, and rarely more detailed than "Ronald Reagan was right." In the conservative blogosphere, the adoration was even more comical: John Ziegler, the devoted Palinista who is -- and forgive the indelicate bluntness, but there is no better word -- an idiot, called the book the "greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime."

Meanwhile, the mainstream press ties itself into knots with their obsessive Palin coverage, trying to explain how it is that a riotously unpopular and ill-informed ex-governor speaks for legions of Americans. Newsweek undercut whatever merit its critical analysis of Palin's role in the political world had by festooning it with sexist Palin imagery. David Brooks continues to vacillate in his opinion of Palin, at various times calling her "smart," "a joke," "courageous and likeable," and a "cancer." PBS' Gwen Ifill said women "will be drawn to her story," even though Palin's popularity among women is in the toilet.

None of this is to say that Palin isn't shrewd. She's figured out that she can say whatever she pleases, lie freely, quit elected office to become a professional Facebook bomb-thrower, cash in on a ridiculous book she didn't even write, and still enjoy the adoration of her conservative fan base, as well as the attentions of the mainstream press.

Simon Maloy is the deputy research director at Media Matters for America. Maloy also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the Web, as well as original commentary

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