So, as I said, I recently read a book called Bring Her Down by Gina Dalfonzo. It is a study into the media response to Former Gov. Sarah Palin. I believe I mentioned it was a tough read. This is not because it was poorly written. Contrary to that, it was well written. And it was not that it was un-researched. No, the research was very thorough.
However, in spite of the claim early in the book that the author’s intent is not a defense of Palin or to take blame away from Palin for some situations… well, it pretty much reads as an attempt present Palin as nothing but a victim of a vicious media.
First, a point of agreement. Yes, some went after her with dishonest lies. And worse, her kids. The people who pushed Trig Birtherism (ironically including people who scoffed at the Birthers-both were foolish stories) and her older son’s supposed drug use were being reprehensible.
On to some of the problems I had. First and foremost, the broad use of “the Media”…in this case to include bloggers. Bloggers are a different animal entirely from the mainstream news and entertainment. We are largely outside of anyone’s control. We get to focus on what we want, how we want. For better or for ill. And there were bloggers on the fringe who used any opportunity to mock Palin and do so through her children. Those people were douche-bags. But Dalfonzo uses them to show the most extreme and egregious cases of falsehoods and attacks perpetrated against Palin. There is a massive difference between the network of bloggers pushing falsehoods on in spite of unproven facts and the media doing so.
Another area I found lacking was her addressing of Palin’s criticism from conservative pundits. She quotes several known pundits (Such as Noonan) and comes to only one conclusion…they wanted to get the respect of their liberal peers. No evidence is given to back this up…and they idea that found her ideas problematic is not allowed serious thought. They were throwing her under the bus so people would like her.
She notes more than once the over the top praise Obama garners (he’s almost God and so on)… she notes Chris Matthew’s absurd leg tingle comment…yet she ignored Rich Lowry’s drooling praise from the National Review:
I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.
And although she suggests Palin made mistakes? You will never know about them from the book. Dalfonzo checks off every major gaff, claim or event from Palin’s run for veep to present and finds a way to absolve her of any criticism at all. She cites John Stewart’s harsh attack on her comments about small town America. It’s unfair, Dalfonzo suggests to ignore the context of her comments. She was responding to Obama’s fundraising comments about clinging to faith and guns. The problem is? That context doesn’t make Palin look better. I got the context. It was pandering to small town minds. And it was actually worse than Obama’s commentary. He at least was expressing some understanding. The context of his comments were sympathetic to the people clinging to their faith and guns. Palin wrote off about 90% of America in her attempt to suck up to middle America. No, Stewart’s response of “Fuck You” was deserved entirely by Palin.
There is also the matter of Palin’s stepping down from the governorship. She said she was doing it for her family. Yet she turned right around and chose to put herself and her family in the spotlight. She went on a book tour, she traveled the country making speeches, she got a reality show. That put her family on display. How was this protecting her family from the media? It calls into question her motives for stepping down, which appeared more to be a realization that no longer being Governor would open up a lot of opportunities for her. But these questions never are raised in the book, because while Dalfonzo shows great skepticism for the motives of Jon Stewart, Tina Fey and Oprah Winfrey… but she will bend over backwards to accept everything Palin does at face value. She wasn’t lying and attacking the health care plan. No, when Palin brought up Death Panels, she was just trying to bring attention to poor wording in the bill.
Nothing in the book changes the impressions Palin herself has made on me. She is graceless in her responses, cocky and speaks in meaningless soundbites. And the book fails to change that impression. Certainly, there were those small points of agreement… but the entertainment section actually showed a large lack of getting satire. SNL, who mocked Palin, also mocked the media for pursuing outlandish stories about her family.
The fact is, if one wanted to, I am sure that they could produce a book showing how the media tried to take down Barack Obama-especially if much of the focus is on bloggers and crazy conspiracies. The book didn’t change my impression of Palin, and while well written and solidly researched, I felt like there was a definite slant to how facts were presented (ironically enough).