Author and reporter Joe McGinniss has apparently rented the house next door to Sarah Palin’s in Wasilla, Alaska, the better to research and write a book on Palin. So announced Palin on, yes, Facebook Monday night. Palin’s reaction to McGinniss’s move-in — she “wonder[s] what kind of material he’ll gather while overlooking Piper’s bedroom, my little garden, and the family’s swimming hole?” and refers to some of McGinniss’s previous work as “bizarre anti-Palin administration oil development pieces”— in turn prompted reactions from reporters (Politico, yes, leading the way).
At the Washington Post’s The Plum Line, Greg Sargent wonders if and when reporters will stop covering Palin’s “attacks.”
A question for fellow reporters and editors: At what point do Sarah Palin’s attacks and smears become so vile and absurd that they no longer merit attention? Is there such a point?
Maybe at the point when what “merits” press attention has more to do with what receives press attention?
Palin, who has broken the mold in so many ways, has defied the laws of political and media gravity in another fashion: Despite the ever-mounting ridiculousness of her claims, she continues to get attention. This isn’t so with other figures. Frequently those who traffic in absurdity and smears to get media attention keep upping the ante until their assertions become so grotesque and self-parodic that they are no longer newsworthy.
Is this really “frequently” the case? To which “other figures” has this applied?
The Post’s Dave Weigel also wrote yesterday about Palin’s Facebook entry (she has a “strange, unprofessional, paranoid grudge”):
This is really the ultimate example of the way Palin manipulates the press and inverts the relationship between reporters and politicians, turning the former into “stalkers,” and the latter — as long as they’re Republicans or members of her family — into saints whom no one can criticize. No one in the media should reward Palin for this irresponsible and pathetic bullying.
“No one in the media should reward Palin”…by writing about this?
But, does Weigel really believe “the media” have such discipline? On Monday night, Weigel told Keith Olbermann (the two were discussing the recent New York Times piece, “For Roaming Palin, Home Base is Still In Alaska,” specifically a quote from Palin’s father) that “if you look at the Times story, all these people realize they can poke the media with a stick and whatever they give us we’ll end up running with.”Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.