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Handling Sarah Palin week: What to do when a major newsmaker with credibility problems blitzes the media



Winfrey%20Palin-thumb-500x333-13473 As Sarah Palin kicks off a media blitz this week to hawk her new book, Going Rogue, you have to wonder how the national media got hornswoggled into this mess.

Even as major interviews with infotainment figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters air in syndicated TV and on ABC, reporters from the Associated Press have fact-checked Palin's quickly-written memoir and find it to be full of misleading, sometimes inaccurate statements.

Palin also makes claims about how she was treated by the campaign of then-running mate John McCain during their bid for the White House which have been denied by others who worked there. In particular, former officials there refute her claim that she was billed $50,000 for expenses related to her vetting at a vice presidential candidate -- saying the McCain campaign did not bill her and was not asked to help cover any expenses she might have incurred on her own. (See the St. Pete Times' fact checking Web site PolitiFact's area on Palin here)

So how will journalists treat Palin when she sits down? If, for example, Barbara Walters' pre-taped interviews don't address these issues, should ABC News feel hoodwinked? (Click here for a summation of Palin's Oprah appearance by the Chicago Sun-Times; the interview airs here at 4 p.m. on WFLA-Ch. 8)

Jonathan Martin of Politico summed up the issue in an appearance today on MSNBC: "Should we in the media treat Sarah Palin like a conventional politician, who may run for office someday, or a political personality -- somebody on par with a Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity?"

My question: What's the difference? Especially given that media personalities such as Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck are inspiring and/or promoting politically active advocacy groups and movements?

Palin seems to have avoided hard news environments in her initial interviews for the book, rightly concluding that those who love her will believe whatever she says and those who dislike her won't be swayed by an interview with a hard news reporter.

But anybody who interviews her without bringing up the numerous inconsistencies already revealed about Going Rogue risks their own credibility while furthering Palin's rather opportunistic media strategy.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:03pm]


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