Palin Divorce Rumors

As if more evidence was needed that Sarah Palin is a pop culture celebrity as much as a political figure, she’s now fending off rumors from tabloids and blogs that she’s getting a divorce and moving to Montana.

I take her at her word that these are completely made up but, as David Adesnik notes, “This is one of those stories where truth will out. Either she’s getting a divorce or she isn’t. ”

Jonathan Martin makes the rather odd argument that, by dignifying the rumor, this is all Palin’s fault:

Sarah Palin’s spokeswoman Saturday took the unusual step of posting a statement on Facebook denying an anonymous blog report that the former Alaska governor was getting a divorce and moving to Montana.

[…]

Actually, no journalists had reported the allegations. They were made on an Alaskan blog called “The Immoral Minority,” and then repeated on other blogs, including Gawker, a well-trafficked New York gossip site.

[…]

By having her spokeswoman repeat the charges to rebut them in a public form, Palin effectively guaranteed coverage from the mainstream media that otherwise would not report claims attributed to unnamed sources on an anonymous blog.

But that’s nonsense.  Mainstream media sources — including Politico and including Martin (remember the way premature “John Edwards is quitting to be with his sick wife” rumors?) — report rumor and rely on anonymous sources all the time.  The fact that people are talking about something is often in and of itself newsworthy.  Especially when it’s about Sarah Palin.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. kth says:

    The Palin people don’t want to fend off this charge, but want to amplify it so as to support their contention that the media are forever making up things about her. Even though, in this case, “the media” consists of two obscure Alaska blogs, whose unsourced reporting was treated with skepticism by the few lefty blogs that even bothered to comment on it.

  2. Pete Burgess says:
  3. Eric Florack says:

    If Palin is the idiot the left likes making her out to be, how is it they can’t use the truth in their attacks against her? Why is it they feel they must make stuff up?

    Dan Rather, call your office.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    The supermarket tabloids run nonsense like this all the time. I remember when they were full of crap like “George Bush to divorce Laura for Condi.” I think I’ve seen a “Michelle is leaving” story or two on my Sunday morning grocery trips as well.

  5. h0mi says:

    Does anyone really believe that this rumor would’ve _stayed_contained_ within 2 obscure blogs?

    How many people think she believed dinosaurs roamed with man 6000 years ago, based on a fake quote that originated on an obscure blog?

  6. h0mi says:

    Oh and it’s already made it to Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/akmuckraker/palins-to-divorce_b_249319.html

  7. anjin-san says:

    If Palin is the idiot the left likes making her out to be, how is it they can’t use the truth in their attacks against her?

    Well, we did point out that she was unable to articulate what newspapers she reads when asked…

  8. kth says:

    Does anyone really believe that this rumor would’ve _stayed_contained_ within 2 obscure blogs?

    You mean if Meg Stapleton hadn’t knocked it down? Absolutely. I’m not sure why a lefty blog would place any value in Stapleton’s denial by itself, anymore than David Axelrod’s denial of an item would have an effect on a righty blogger.

    More likely, the overwhelming majority of lefty blogs that refused to lend credence to the story simply didn’t feel like there was enough there to justify going out on a limb.

  9. Davebo says:

    She almost managed to go 24 hours without creating another “scandal”.

    Sheila Jackson Lee has nothing on Sarah when it comes to grasping for exposure.

  10. Eric Florack says:

    Well, we did point out that she was unable to articulate what newspapers she reads when asked…

    Yep. Then again, I don’t take any newspapers at all. Does that make me uninformed?

  11. Eric Florack says:

    Sheila Jackson Lee has nothing on Sarah when it comes to grasping for exposure.

    Yeah, well, if that’s what this is all about consider this question, within the conext of your comment… the record of success on such attacks from Zaki etc, and the rest of the leftie sources ranges from bad to outright terrible…to the point that the every attempt at rumor gets dispatched with assurity approaching that of the proverbial lead pipe, every single time.

    First, you’d think eventually they’d stop trying, after so many failures, but more; If she’s so much the idiot, what does it say about her attackers when they come away bloodied and broken at each attack attempt?

    Within the context of your comment, I suggest that the resignation thing and the leftie spasm it caused was a calculated to give Palin more support… and it worked pretty well, too, if you look at the polling data. Think of it this way… what could she have possibly done by plan or accident, to get more press, more name recognition … and more favorable polling reactions from voters…than what happened to her following her resignation as Governor?

    In short, she played the leftist press like a fiddle. Yeah, really stupid, this woman, huh?

    And so now the leftie press comes up with soemthing to provide her with even better name recognition and positioning, with little to no effort on her part. All she had to do was issue a statement…

    “Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd? I may be just a renegade hockey mom, but I’m not blind!”

    That explosion you just heard was Zaki’s credibility… what he had left after the Trig rumor mill of a few months ago biting the sand… and with it the leftist press who signed onto the rumor because it fit their worldview and satisfied their hateful politics.

    Not that it’ll keep them from trying again. But it does now bring the questions of motivation for these constant attacks.

    I think it’s desperation… ? Hate, you see, will make people do strange and desperate things, and trust me, there’s a fair amount of hate in her attackers.

  12. anjin-san says:

    Then again, I don’t take any newspapers at all

    Well, there is a difference between “taking” (which implies subscribing) and reading one. Are you saying you NEVER read a newspaper? (print or web)

    Besides, Palin said she reads “all of them” (that is a quote). She just could not name one of them.

    Weak, bit. Even by your standards.

    Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

    Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

    Couric: What, specifically?

    Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

    Couric: Can you name a few?

    Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too.

  13. anjin-san says:

    I think it’s desperation… ? Hate, you see, will make people do strange and desperate things

    We will keep this in mind when you go into your next Obama rant.

  14. Eric Florack says:

    Well, there is a difference between “taking” (which implies subscribing) and reading one. Are you saying you NEVER read a newspaper? (print or web)

    Well, see, there’s the thing, the way you double clutched that one. Print or web. That wasn’t how the question was put to Palin, was it? YOu added that part… Couric did not. Nice try, though.

    We will keep this in mind when you go into your next Obama rant.

    See, the difference is when I go after Obama, it isn’t based on stuff I hadda make up.

  15. Gustopher says:

    Isn’t it time for her to put out a country-western album?

    Merge her pop celebrity status with her political ambitions and views. It could be like this, but serious:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZXFdikh-70

  16. anjin-san says:

    That wasn’t how the question was put to Palin, was it?

    Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

    What did I add? Nothing. Like I said, weak even by your pitiful standards. If you are going to try to be clever bit, you first must, you know, actually be clever. That pretty much leaves you out.

    Couric asked her what newspapers and magazines she read. Period. Palin could not answer coherently. Reading them in print form or online is not relevant, nor is subscribing or not. Squirm all you want bit, your heroine is an ignoramus. (water does seek its own level, no?)

  17. anjin-san says:

    Oh, and in case you are still confused I was asking YOU if you read the paper in print online because you tried to get cute by introducing “taking” into the equation.

    Obviously, you are trying to get Palin off on a technicality. Thats what attorneys do when their clients are guilty. Course thats all you have, because she is, in fact, ignorant. And she froze like a deer in the headlights in the face of softballs being teed up by the fearsome Katie Couric.

  18. TangoMan says:

    You mean if Meg Stapleton hadn’t knocked it down? Absolutely. I’m not sure why a lefty blog would place any value in Stapleton’s denial by itself, anymore than David Axelrod’s denial of an item would have an effect on a righty blogger.

    More likely, the overwhelming majority of lefty blogs that refused to lend credence to the story simply didn’t feel like there was enough there to justify going out on a limb.

    CBS, to their great shame, ran the story. Do they count as mainstream media? After Stapleton responded they pulled their story and now the URL reports Page Not Found.

    Did you read about Palin banning books, charging for rape kits, cutting funding for the schooling of the disabled, building her house with materials from the rec center, being under investigation by the FBI, etc. These stories, and many more, were not simply contained within the blogosphere.

    Politico, as James notes, is making a weak argument, because the when his story was posted there was already reporting in the mainstream media that preceded Stapleton’s statement. Shouldn’t reporters, you know, quit making stuff up.

  19. sam says:

    @Bit Eric

    Then again, I don’t take any newspapers at all. Does that make me uninformed?

    Well, not that… 🙂

  20. DavidL says:

    The sourcing for this supposed story is too thin to even classify it as a rumor. The initial story, in Immoral Minority, attributed the divorce story to a single, but unnamed source, who cited no evidence and indicated that this supposed divorce was only Mrs. Palin unannounced future intent. We were supposed to believe that Mrs. Palin intends to get a divorce but no attempt was made to actually contact her.

    So even if the story were true, it would still have no paper trail. Even Dan Rather attempted fake one.

    This not a rumor, but rather one blogger simply making things up.

  21. kth says:

    Tangoman, do you have a screen cap of that CBS item? I’d be curious to see how they treated it. I seriously doubt that CBS went with “BREAKING! PALINS TO DIVORCE!” on such thin sourcing. But contrary to the likes of Mickey Kaus, I would prefer that MSM outlets not even acknowledge the existence of rumors with ultimately no greater provenance than the National Enquirer.

  22. TangoMan says:

    kth,

    I can’t find a screen cap. If you’re curious to see how the media applies standards to Palin, consider this piece of AP reporting:

    Investigator rules against Palin in ethics probe

    An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by trading on her position in seeking money for legal fees, in the latest legal distraction for the former vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week.

    The report obtained by The Associated Press says Palin is securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, set up by supporters.

    1.) Investigators don’t rule on matters. They investigate. The AP is making up the headline.

    2.) The claim of the investigator is that Palin MAY have violated laws by trading on her position. This is false, in that it presumes that Palin traded on her position in return for donations. Palin hasn’t received any donations from the fund set up by independent actors. How can anyone be guilty of a ethics violation when they haven’t taken any action yet? Here too the AP is making up a claim.

    3.) The AP claims that she is receiving “unwarranted benefits and improper gifts.” No she hasn’t. All of the donations received by ATF are still under the control of the ATF administrators and Palin has no legal connection with the ATF. The AP is reporting a falsehood by claiming that she is receiving benefits and gifts.

    As has been the case since Palin hit the national scene, accuracy in reporting is not a consideration for the press. The impression this piece of “journalism” left is that Palin was in receipt of gifts, had been found guilty, and had traded influence. The reality of the situation is diametrically opposed to the narrative that the AP crafted.

    The reason, I believe, that the press does this is that they are likely looking at internal reports and discovering that “news” about Palin draws lots of traffic, and when they are leaders in reporting the “news” about her they get more traffic than when they are late to the game in reporting the “news” and so standards slip so that the “reporting” can be published quickly. Combine this with the anti-Palin agenda of the decision makers in the news media and reporting on the divorce story, as well as Trig trutherism, rape kits, embezzlement, etc becomes fodder for the 24 hour news cycle which needs content, lots of content, and lots of non-boring content. Anything about Palin is now news.

    Lastly, there is no way that Palin critics will let her win. In this iteration she is being criticized for having Stapleton come out with guns blazing to squash a rumor. I have no doubt that she would be criticized just as vigorously if she ignored the rumor and it took on the life of the rape kits story as it migrated into the MSM.

  23. kth says:

    Your example isn’t an especially good one, though no doubt more egregious ones could be found. “Rules” is perhaps maladroit, but the point is that the process would have stopped if the investigator had found that nothing untoward occurred, and so it resembled a ruling in the sense that the investigator’s determination propelled the process to the next stage. Items 2 and 3 are judgments made by the investigator, not the journalist. Generally you don’t see journalists challenging findings of fact in official reports, though perhaps they should.

    Palin’s beef is with that investigator; surely an ethics investigation against a potential presidential candidate is newsworthy even if it is politically motivated.

  24. hln says:

    Quick! Someone start the rumor that Sarah Palin was a boy at birth! Quick!

  25. anjin-san says:

    See, the difference is when I go after Obama, it isn’t based on stuff I hadda make up

    Well, no. That would require creativity, which you lack. You just regurgitate things that your nominally brighter trend setters at Malkin, Red State & Powerline make up.

  26. Eric Florack says:

    What did I add?

    Websites.
    Did I really need to spell that our for you?

    quirm all you want bit, your heroine is an ignoramus.

    If that’s true, why do Democrats need to make stuff up to attack her? As it happens, I’m writing a bit for PJM on all this, which will be up in the morning.

  27. TangoMan says:

    the point is that the process would have stopped if the investigator had found that nothing untoward occurred, and so it resembled a ruling in the sense that the investigator’s determination propelled the process to the next stage. Items 2 and 3 are judgments made by the investigator, not the journalist.

    1.) The process wouldn’t have stopped because the investigator has no authority to make any decision. If the subject of a report is anyone other than Palin would the AP have reported that the, let’s say, the psychologist (investigator) hired by the mother in a custody dispute had ruled that father should have no contact with his children or would the AP have reported that the investigator for one side of the conflict had presented their findings and that the judge in the case is still awaiting the findings from the other side before the judge issues a ruling?

    2.) You’re relying on the AP’s characterization of the investigator’s report. Why would you do that? If you already see gross inaccuracies, such as a headline pronouncing that the investigator has “ruled” against Palin, why would you assume that the remainder of the report is incorporating good journalistic practices? That’s kind of like a wife who has been beaten by her husband accepting his word that it will never happen again. Investigators don’t usually write “may have violated ethics laws.” That’s a wishy-washy finding, kind of like a cop going to the prosecutor and submitting a report which says that “the suspect may have committed a burglary.” If I’m seeing such non-committal prose, then I suspect that it is coming from the reporter unless I read it in quotations.

  28. anjin-san says:

    Websites.
    Did I really need to spell that our for you?

    Ummmm. Yea. But I was asking you if you read newspapers in print or on websites. My question to you has nothing to do with Palin or Couric, neither of whom know I am alive.

    Throw up all the smoke you want Goober. Bottom line is Palin could not articulate an answer to a question a halfway bright 16 year old could ace.

    Your heroine is a moron. Birds of a feather, I suppose…

  29. An Interested Party says:

    I guess we can blame this on the media, right? Poor Sarah…

  30. anjin-san says:

    If that’s true, why do Democrats need to make stuff up to attack her?

    Why does the GOP make crap up about Obama? We do know you are a closet birther there bisty. Glass houses and all that…

  31. TangoMan says:

    I guess we can blame this on the media, right? Poor Sarah…

    That’s all good and fun today, but it has as much meaning as a poll taken about how people felt about Tylenol right after the media created a hysteria after the tampering case. What’s Tylenol’s market share today?

    Brand image changes are possible. Polls will count for more a year from now, then the polls two years from now will count even more, and then the polls three years from now will really have some punch, and in fact, perhaps the polls in 2014/15 will be the ones Palin should be using.

    I mean, who’d have thunk it, Bonzo’s acting partner becoming President. It’s good that Reagan didn’t decide anything based on polls in 1964.

    In a few years we’ll see if my hypothesis holds true when we judge whether socialist policies can result in a popular President. I’m betting that the terms are mutually exclusive, but there’s no sense in arguing about it today.

  32. Eric Florack says:

    Ummmm. Yea. But I was asking you if you read newspapers in print or on websites. My question to you has nothing to do with Palin or Couric, neither of whom know I am alive.

    Actually, it does have something to do with it. The point I’m making here is that ‘what newspapers do you read’ is a somewhat more ambiguous question than it was 20 years ago given internet sourcing, and has often enough been cause for confusion in the people who have been asked it. I know, because that’s been a stock question for people I’ve interviewed on the radio, particularly political figures. The answers vary between “I don’t”… and you have to draw them out to get them to say they are reading internet versions of ‘the paper’… to actually listing the ‘papers’ they read, only to find out when you draw them out, that they’re actually reading from the web.

  33. anjin-san says:

    The point I’m making here is that ‘what newspapers do you read’ is a somewhat more ambiguous question than it was 20 years

    Sure bit sure. I dunno, perhaps in the circles you travel in, everyone is kind of stupid. Given the argument you are trying to make here, it is not an outlandish assumption. And you do cite “The American Thinker” 🙂 as if it were a burning bush.

    If there was even a particle of truth to your line of bs, her answer would have been, “I get most of my information from the internet now”, not, “all of them, everything, blather, blather”, blather…”

  34. Drew says:

    Psssssssst.

    Its true. Hubby found out she was really born in Kenya. Now this doesn’t bother me, so she and I are gettin’ hitched. Plus, I’m moving to Utah, not Montana. And I’m marrying Jessica Simpson too.

    I know there are those here who would believe it.

  35. Grewgills says:

    Now this doesn’t bother me, so she and I are gettin’ hitched. Plus, I’m moving to Utah, not Montana. And I’m marrying Jessica Simpson too.

    Congrats! Where are you registered?