Palin’s Basketball Diaries

Yes, we’ve been reviewing the media’s coverage of social security and health care and the jobs plan, but we’ve also noticed the press has taken an interest in reports from Joe McGinniss’s soon-to-be-released Sarah Palin biography, “The Rogue,” about what may or may not have happened between the 23-year-old Palin and basketball player Glen Rice in a dorm room in 1987.

We don’t yet have a copy of the book, but from what we can tell from reviews and McGinniss’s appearance on the Today show, the author suggests, but never baldly asserts a sexual relationship between the two.

If you’ll allow us a brief trip to the gutter, these rumors are out there being covered in prominent outlets, and professional duty calls.

Here’s how Erika Bolstad of McClatchy related the tale:

At the time, the former Alaska governor, now 47, was single, just out of college and working at Anchorage TV station KTUU. Rice, 44, …was a promising basketball player at the University of Michigan.

Their encounter occurred while Rice was in Anchorage attending a basketball tournament and Palin apparently covered the event. Months later, in 1988, Palin eloped with Todd Palin, her high school sweetheart. The two are still married.

Ms. Sarah Heath, now Palin, was a grown woman; Mr. Rice, a grown man. They were free to engage in one-night stands or whatever sort of intimate encounter they wished. Though the alleged conduct may not live up to Palin’s more recently professed moral standards, it, odds are, meets yours.

But what we wonder about is Palin’s reporting ethics. You read it: Mr. Rice was in Alaska playing in a basketball tournament. A tournament that we understand Ms. Heath was covering! That’s an awfully cozy reporter-subject relationship—pretty sure of the sort warned against in Media Ethics 101.

But, born again, again. Palin, often citing her time as a reporter and her undergraduate journalism training, has turned into quite a formidable media critic of late, railing against the bankruptcy of the “lamestream” media’s ethics:

“The lamestream media is no longer a cornerstone of democracy in America. They need help. They need to regain their credibility and some respect. There are some pretty sick puppies in the industry today. They really need help.”

Thanks for the advice.

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Erika Fry is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: ,