Sarah Palin In A Nut Shell : Going Rogue: Book Review. LIFE WITH THE MEDIA AFTER THE CONVENTION INCLUDING KATIE COURIC. The GREAT DIVIDER.
Sarah Palin states she had a good relationship with the Media in Alaska before she became John McCain’s running mate. She frequently called into radio talk shows to make comments. In addition many reporters had her personal cell phone and they could get an immediate answer from her on any issue or fact they wished to report her views on.
Her relationship with the Alaska Media ended when she became a Vice Presidential candidate. Steve Schmidt and his staff guided by the campaign powers in Washington wanted to control all relations with the Media. Who the powers in Washington were is not mentioned. Thus she was prevented from making off the cuff remarks to the Alaska Media or the reporters travelling with her.
However she says she obtained the call in number of national talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and others. However The campaign staff prevented her from playing up to the right probably because they were trying to make the average voter perceive her as more centrist , the vote they would have to capture in order to win the election. She alleges the campaign leaders never responded to an on air request from Bill O’Reilly for an interview on Fox. (This is probably because the campaign wanted to be perceived as centrists and chose the mainstream national broadcast networks for the interviews.)
Nicolle,” her stylist” who previously worked for Katie Couric, pushed her to grant an interview with Katie. She was told by Nicolle,” Katie likes you. She sees you as another working mom with teenage daughters. Katie wants you to like her.” (This dosen’t ring true. An unnamed stylist is influencing her to grant Couric one of her first nationally televised interviews the other being with Charles Gibson of ABC.) “ You know what we will do schedule a segment with her. If it doesn’t go well, if there is no chemistry, we won’t do any others.” The Nicolle she is referring to is presumably Nicolle Wallace a former White House Communications Director for George W. Bush and media strategist selected with her husband to work with Palin. Wallace denies the conversation ever took place. Palin, apparently also blames her for the goof with her expensive wardrobe when she was trying to establish herself as a middleclass hockey mom so we get the designation and denigration of Nicolle as a “stylist.”
Wallace says the strategy was to have her appear on the nightly news of the national broadcast networks. Palin make it sound like when Couric asked her to name what she read it was “like how often do you cheat on your husband.” Also she says she was duped into thinking that the interview with Couric would be friendly and only on one occasion. It turned out to be three separate interviews and then they were was edited down for broadcast. She indicates much of her answers ended up on the cutting room floor and only the most damaging material to her image was left in. She makes it sound like Couric was out to get her to improve her dismal ratings at the time. (First of all the producers at CBS would have edited the interview. Couric may have some say but not the only say as to the shape of what was aired on CBS. CBS is noted for its journalistic excellence being the network of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. So this sounds like sour grapes.) Palin also says her advisers didn’t prepare her for the interviews and things came out sounding wrong i.e. as Governor she conducted foreign affairs with Russia and the Pacific Rim countries as well as Canada that were twisted in the editing. ( Now you know why she calls this book Going Rogue. She just doesn’t get the fact that the McCain campaign strategy was to move to the center . Making loose statements and grandstanding to the right ( her modus operandi then and ever since) was not going to work in a national campaign.
Then her personal E-mail was hacked. It was more of a nuisance than damaging to her or the campaign. More of a nuisance since the networks broadcast the To and From addresses of her, her family and friends.
However when she appeared in Republican areas she drew
large crowds, even larger than McCain. (It was becoming evident she would be a superstar of the right and remains so to this day. With independents and Democrats she is an anathema.)
The McCain campaign wished to make the major issue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan however as events turned out the economy was in a downward spiral and that became the dominant issue.
She ruefully concludes that Katie Couric was bent on getting gotcha moments in her interviews and she succeeded . Thus she let her team down. However she is still bitter about the interviews which she believes established her image with the public. (This was enhanced later by the Tina Fey takeoffs of her as an airhead.) She notes that Joe Biden was given better treatment when Couric interviewed him and did not pick up on his statement “When the stock market crashed . Franklin D. Roosevelt got on television and didn’t just talk about the prices of greed. He said here’s what happened.”
Of course Roosevelt wasn’t president at the time and there was no television.
In the end she felt she was badgered and selectively edited by Couric and should have spent her time on the campaign trail with the “people.” ( She means her people or people more conservative than the average American voter which she would have reached in the broadcast interviews if she had been better prepared and more experienced in handling a serious as opposed to a softball interviews.)
In the end it appears she was not a unifier of the electorate but a divisive personage.
Arriving in Minneapolis for the convention Sarah and her family were assigned a suite at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis. The suit had two bedrooms, one for her, Todd and Trig the other was for her girls. Track had not arrived yet, but would stay down the hall with his cousins.
In the center of the room was a rack with clothes for her family. Someone had learned their sizes and style. She reasoned if someone was going to give me clothes might as well wear them. They were later fitted to her and the family. She had only bought an overnight bag on her whirlwind trip from Alaska.
She was assigned a stylist and hair and makeup persons. The stylist had worked with Katie Couric among others. ( Hm… Katie had the same clothing stylist wonder what that means.)
She listened to Barrack Obama’s speech on television hearing him for the first time and acknowledges that he was good but she “feared his smooth style would obscure what he was actually saying.” (A back hand compliment if ever there was one.)
She was assigned a Vice Presidential staff with media people, speechwriters, policy experts a VP campaign Chief of Staff named Andrew Smith. Smith was a former Wall Streeter with no campaign management experience as she was told by Steve Schmidt. (Obviously Schmidt was going to micro manage her campaign as well as the main campaign for obvious reasons.)
The Palin’s were made over and packaged for the campaign. She was uncomfortably with the policy wonks, managers, stylists, expensive clothes and the luxury surroundings but went along with the plan as she felt she was in the hands of experts.
As soon as the Media learned of McCain’s choice of her for his running mate it began to attack. She first recalls brushing her teeth while watching the news on in the bathroom mirror which had a built in TV screen and seeing the fact that Bristol was pregnant on the crawl across the bottom of the screen. She wasn’t hiding the fact but she thought her family would not be fair game in the campaign. Barack Obama had told the press “hands off the family “and his wishes had been respected for the most part. (On the other hand neither he nor his wife had been so vehemently pro life and for abstinence so when that agenda failed in Palin’s own family with 17 year old Bristol it was news.) However this was not to be with her family. Her staff urged her to put out a statement on the fact. Bristol was upset and embarrassed and wondered why the subject of her pregnancy was even in the news as she was not running for anything.
Despite the fact that she wrote a release acknowledging the fact of her daughter’s pregnancy but not endorsing teen age pregnancy the campaign released a statement she had previously rejected. It said “ Were proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and prouder to become grandparents.” We are not given the exact wording of her intended message. (Probably because she doesn’t have a copy of what was given to the staff for publication and later discarded or kept by them. So the seeds of her GOING ROGUE were being laid from the beginning.
Because she was revealed as McCain’s choice so late in the campaign there was no prepared press briefing kit for her. This usually is at least a three ring binder of her life and accomplishments up until that time from the McCain’s Campaign point of view. (However one would expect the Governor of a State to have her own press brief on the vital facts and controversy’s of her life. This could have been given to the campaign people to fashion into her VP press kit on short notice.) She says because of this reporters descended on Alaska and received highly jaundiced information form patchy factoids on the Internet and from sources that included a defeated former opponent, the falafel lady in Anchorage (Is this someone like a hockey mom whose only difference from a pit-bull is lipstick?) the Wasilla town crank and maniacal bloggers. (No offense taken.) (However Reporters and the Media would have done their own research on her background anyway deciding what was of on interest to their readers and an insight into her character and abilities.)
John Stein, the man she succeeded as mayor of Wasilla, said she injected her religious beliefs into her policies at times like trying to force the town librarian to delete books she found objectionable from the town library. Palin denies this as true. (The librarian who was fired by Palin says this was an accurate criticism.)
She was quoted as in favor abstinence only sex education and criticized that it didn’t even work in the case of her own daughter. She says this was another media error she was not against contraception only explicit sex education where demonstrations like slipping a condom over a banana or show and tell demonstrations were given. However if explicit sex education was to be taught she was for abstinence only education. (This parsing of the subject doesn’t ring true.) She cites these stories and others where the press twisted the facts to her detriment. (This was her evidence of a hostile press from the beginning. This criticism by her continues to this day. Probably because she is so far out of the mainstream that middle of the road reporters can’t find much to report that would make her less like a right wing celebrity without portfolio and more like a serious politician.)
Her speech at the convention was a team effort led by Matthew Scully who had written for Bush 43, Dick Cheney and John McCain before. Thus she says he was a political conservative, a vegetarian and a “gentle, green soul.” (Whatever that means.)
She practiced the speech before a teleprompter which she felt that was unnecessary because she knew how to speak and she had a teleprompter so why practice. (Obviously Steve Schmidt knew there is often many a slip between the cup and the lip and was taking no chances with this woman in an event to be viewed by millions.)
The speech went over well and she was inspired by the enthusiasm and her reception at the convention. She was the one to invoke John McCain’s heroic war record and to introduce one of his fellow prisoners who spoke of his valor and courage under the most trying of circumstances.
She was nominated the Vice Presidential running mate to John McCain a fateful moment in her life trajectory and maybe McCain’s. Because she certainly alienated the women who had supported Hillary Clinton so McCain lost that important segment of the electorate however she helped cement his relationship with the far right who were critical of some of his policy positions in the past.
Thus the seeds of her strengths and weaknesses were visible and under the crucible of a Presidential Campaign would be brought out.