Friedman's primary objective seems to be by way of warning: those who find MSM coverage of Sarah Palin to be an unexpected boon to McCain's campaign are soon to be disappointed. The MSM will, he states, soon get bored with Palin and move on to other (perhaps more vapid) celebs on which to squander their overrated journalistic skills. (Okay, there may be some embellishment on my part. Suffice it to say he feels Palin will soon find the Coverage Carpet to be pulled out from under her.)
Using a device of extreme self-deprecation, Friedman states the obvious:
This is how the world works in the age of 24/7 news cycles. Whether the subject is Britney Spears, Michael Jordan or Sarah Palin, we inevitably raise stars to mythic levels, out of all reasonable proportions. Then we knock them down. (Look out, Michael Phelps. Your time is coming, too.)If I were Phelps, I'd start looking for ways to parlay bad press into endorsements, and quick.
Still, Friedman doesn't say anything we didn't already know. Of course the press builds up their subjects beyond all logical expectations. It's what they do. They have no story if they can't milk some sort of prime-time drama from them. So, far from letting us in on one of the MSM's "dirty little secrets," Friedman basically just 'fesses up to something we convicted them of decades ago.
What I find interesting in his story, however, is his analysis of Palin's treatment by Charles Gibson of ABC. All it takes, really, is one read-through of the actual interview — you know, the parts they left out as well as the parts they actually deigned to show us — to see just how "fairly" Gibson and ABC treated Palin. Here's the transcript (via Newsbusters). Read the whole thing, and see how fairness is defined by Gibson and his handlers.
Another interesting thing to consider. How about those "tough" questions Obama himself faced when interviewed by Mr. Gibson? More "fairness" at play? You decide (these are samples):
Questions for Obama (running, you may recall, for President):Obvious paraphrases, but capturing the essence of the interrogation, I think.
Will you accept public finance?
What issues is your campaign about?
Will you visit Iraq?
Questions for Palin (Vice Presidential candidate):
Do you have enough qualifications for the job you're seeking? Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?
Aren't you conceited to be seeking this high level job?
Questions about foreign policy
-the Bush Doctrine
Is America fighting a holy war? [misquoted Palin]
Yet Friedman treats Gibson as if he were some sort of journalistic senior statesman.
Gibson, as dignified a newsperson as America has now, treated Palin fairly and didn't resort to hectoring her with "gotcha" questions, either.Respect? He treated her as if she were some unlearned backwoods whipper-snapper, while he played the long-suffering school-master pondering whether to administer a few lashes with a switch. Heavy sighs. Peering over the rims of his "dignified" glasses. It may not have been hectoring, but it was clearly not respectful.
Gibson treated her with the respect befitting a vice presidential candidate.
Friedman's bias is further demonstrated by his own lack of knowledge regarding Gibson's one (and only) attempted "zinger" throughout the interview. (Okay, he attempted others, but this is the only one that most people seem to think he nailed, but which, for obvious reasons, he did not.)
Specifically, Palin seemed to have little idea about the Bush Doctrine, in which the U.S must spread democracy around the world to halt terrorist acts. When Gibson put it to her and asked if she agreed with the doctrine, she answered, "In what respect, Charlie?"But the "analysts" are wrong, in this case. Just purely wrong. Gibson himself showed an amazing ignorance of American foreign policy by stating his belief in a single "Bush Doctrine," as if it had the same parameters and measurable attributes of a Monroe Doctrine, or a Truman Doctrine. But it doesn't have, nor has it ever had a single iteration that you could point to and call "the" Bush Doctrine. It doesn't exist. For all of Gibson's cynical and snide insinuations that Palin, of all people, ought to have known what it is, she just as clearly showed her own mastery of Bush's foreign policy statements and her superior knowledge (superior to Gibson's, at any rate) that the Bush Doctrine is just a figment of Gibson's own imagination. Until they edited it out of the final presentation, that is.
Some analysts have suggested that Gibson knew more about the Bush Doctrine than the vice-presidential candidate.
Beyond all of the above, I really think Palin's "phenomenon" has longer legs (sorry!) than Friedman thinks. It is not an easy or insignificant thing to galvanize the conservative base of the GOP, and Palin's selection as Vice President has done exactly that. Furthermore, as evidenced by the sheer (and admittedly unscientific) numbers of female callers into talk radio of late, Palin has also touched a nerve with those who wonder just why the Democrats are so determined to tear down this woman, rather than debate her on the issues alone. So far they've just danced around the issues, yet tried with all their might to show Palin in anything but a flattering light as an American.
So I guess this means that the Democratic ticket (Barack "the Great Pretender" Obama, and Joe "Plagiarism is My Middle Name" Biden) is now fair game.
"Hunting" season ought to be interesting this fall.