Sarah Palin, who frequently criticized the press corps during the presidential campaign last fall, has another gripe about the media.
This time, there is a twist. She has a leg to stand on.
The Alaska governor, who has become a punching bag for the media, has a fair point about the way we have apparently set up a double standard for covering her children and those of President-elect Barack Obama. The media's standard for Palin is designed to make her look like a backwoods rube and embarrass her at every turn.
In the process, the press has no compunction about making public figures out of Palin's kids, which is simply not fair.
Palin is on the mark when she contends that journalists should back off and give her family some deserved privacy. If reporters want to disparage Palin for what she said on the 2008 campaign trail and afterward, that's acceptable. She is fair game, as a public figure. But yes, let's leave her children (not to mention her newborn grandchild) out of it.
Obama and First Lady-to-be Michelle Obama have asked reporters to show respect to their situation by leaving their young girls alone so that they can acclimate to the daunting worlds of a new school, a new city in Washington, D.C., and especially their new home, the White House.
Obviously, that's an entirely reasonable request. And the media seem poised to honor it. Good for them. It's commendable to give children special protection. It's hard to imagine what kind of cauldron the Obama kids have stepped into, so I'm glad to see journalists letting the Obama girls have a little room to breathe.
It also says a lot, though, about how the media are eager to exploit Palin, who emerged from the shadows last summer to assume the public persona of Alaska's 21st Century incarnation of Annie Oakley. Palin and her handlers conjured up this indelible image throughout her failed run as vice president on the Republican ticket.
Palin is correct - to a point - that the appearance of a double standard says a lot "about our society."
According to media reports, Palin was angry about a "Saturday Night Live" routine in which Tina Fey, doing a very funny turn while spoofing the candidate for vice president, declared: "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers."
That quip referred to Palin's 18-year-old daughter Bristol and her fiancé Levi Johnston. The two announced just prior to the Republican National Convention that they were expecting a baby and planned to get married.
"The mama grizzly rises up in me, hearing things like that," Palin told a reporter. "Here again, cool, fine come attack me. But when you make a suggestion like that that attacks a kid, it kills me."
Media and Hollywood
Of course I hope Palin, as well as Obama, can distinguish between "the media" -- journalists doing their jobs and reporting on what politicians do and say -- and the entertainment industry, which (fortunately) knows no bounds when it comes to satirizing public officials.
If Palin planned to make a big deal about the kid-glove treatment that Caroline Kennedy has been receiving, she is wasting her time and breath. Kennedy, the only daughter of former President John Kennedy, is on the short list to be appointed U.S. Senator from New York and replace Hillary Clinton. Clinton is expected to be confirmed as Obama's Secretary of State.
Fair or not, Palin now has to come to grips with her reputation. The campaign is long over but the memory lingers for many people.
Consider a disparaging letter from a Time reader named Doris Paster of Somerset, N.J., which appeared in its current Jan. 19 issue, after the newsweekly named Palin a runner-up in the annual Person of the Year sweepstakes.
Paster wrote: "Why are you wasting space on Sarah Palin? Her time is past. Let sleeping dogs lie. Nothing would make me happier than to have a woman as our Chief Executive. However, she should be an able, qualified one (where is Hillary Clinton when we really need her?), not a Miss Cutesy Pants."
Still, Palin shouldn't make an issue about how she believes that Fey and CBS News' Katie Couric "exploited" her during the presidential campaign.
Earth to Sarah: OF COURSE they exploited you - gleefully, as a matter of fact. Psst, you were really, really famous, you know.
But don't worry, Sarah. I never really believed Fey's hilarious suggestion that you could see Russia from your home.
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By Jon Friedman