Sarah Palin Adds South Carolina To Itinerary, And The Press Continues To Follow

Sarah Palin will be heading to yet another important primary state while insisting she isn't running for President yet. And the press follows her like a lonely puppy.

She was already heading to New Hampshire, then Iowa got added to the schedule, now it appears that Sarah Palin is making it an early primary state trifecta:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will visit the first-in-the-South primary state of South Carolina later this month as part of her nationwide bus tour, RealClearPolitics has learned.

According to well-informed sources, Palin’s trip is divided into three separate segments, in which visits to each of the first three voting states — New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina — will be the geographical centerpieces.

Though Palin may set up a meeting with Gov. Terry Branstad when she travels to Iowa in the coming days, RCP has learned that she is purposefully bypassing meetings with local party leadership as she works to cultivate her image as an “anti-politician,” in anticipation of a wildly unconventional presidential run.

(…)

Following her current “One Nation” tour of the Northeast, Palin will next journey to the Midwest, where Iowa will be front and center. Plans are still being drawn up, but she may visit the World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

During the third leg of her tour, Palin will travel to South Carolina and may also appear at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, where several other current and potential GOP White House hopefuls are scheduled to speak.

Despite the obviously political nature of her travel agenda, Palin aides emphasize that her trip was primarily designed to test whether a months-long campaign could work logistically for the former governor’s large family. If members of Palin’s family are not completely on board with a campaign, sources say, she will not run.

“I honestly don’t look at states according to when their primaries are,” Palin said in the interview. “To me, an American is an American, no matter what their primary election dates are.”

So, apparently, the fact that Palin is visiting the states that just so happen to host the first three primaries in 2012 is just a massive coincidence totally unconnected with any political ambitions she may have, or any illusions that she might be trying to create among her supporters that she is thinking about running for President. And, bizarrely, the press covers the whole thing, following her around like she’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan and constantly on the lookout for her next move.

Then, somewhat absurdly, they complain when they are treated like paparazzi:

Sarah Palin and her advisers are refusing to tell members of the media where she is going on her current bus tour – and the former Alaska governor seems to be enjoying the cat and mouse game that’s resulted.

“I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media … I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this, and that would include not necessarily telling them beforehand where every stop’s going to be,” she told fellow Fox News employee Greta Van Susteren in an interview from the bus.

Yet the reemergence of the GOP’s larger-than-life 2008 vice presidential candidate – who says she is strongly considering a run for president – is undeniably news. Which is why more than a dozen national news outlets have sent reporters and producers out to try and follow Palin.

Since Palin and her team won’t share where the potential candidate is headed, reporters and producers have little choice but to simply stay close to Palin’s bus. This has resulted in scenes of the Palin bus tooling down the highway followed by a caravan of 10 or 15 vehicles all trying to make sure they don’t lose sight of the Palin bus.

It adds up to a dangerous situation, says CBS News Producer Ryan Corsaro.

“I just hope to God that one of these young producers with a camera whose bosses are making them follow Sarah Palin as a potential Republican candidate don’t get in a car crash, because this is dangerous,” he said.

Corsaro asked a member of Palin’s team if he thought it was dangerous to have reporters forced to chase her from stop to stop. “You’re the ones that are trailing us,” he replied.

If you’re going to act like paparazzi, you’re going to get treated like paparazzi. As my colleague Steven Taylor noted yesterday, though, there is a weird symbiotic relationship between Palin and the press. She feeds off their attention, even the negative attention, and often spins it into the claims of victim-hood that we often hear from her and her supporters (think “Lamestream Media”) This time around, she’s using the press for the free coverage and using them for the foil that have played for her with her base ever since the closing days of the election when she made this absurd claim:

In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by “attacks” from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks.  Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

Of course, there’s nothing in the First Amendment that says that a politician like Palin can say what they want without having to be held accountable for it by an independent, even critical media. That’s what the whole freedom of the press thing is all about. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you get to say whatever you want without anyone criticizing you for it, but that is exactly how Sarah Palin treats the media, both since the 2008 campaign and during this bizarre bus tour.

Here’s a thought: Perhaps the media should take Palin at her word that this bus tour of hers has nothing to do with Presidential ambitions, pack up the camera gear, and leave. Giving her all this free publicity, while allowing her to get away with the dodge that she isn’t really a candidate for anything and therefore doesn’t have to answer questions, is both insane and pretty much incompatible with what the political presses job is supposed to be. If they’re going to be treated like paparazzi, then perhaps the press should go find a more interesting celebrity to follow around.

Like Elliott Gould.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politicians, Sarah Palin, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/10/palin-fears-med.html

    ABC News’ Steven Portnoy reports: In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by “attacks” from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

    Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

    “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

    She’s an idiot.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    This is what happens when you turn on a deadly electrified bug zapper in a swamp… you draw out all the bugs.

  3. ponce says:

    Did anyone else thing of Yalta after reading about the Palin – Trump summit in the pizza parlor?

  4. legion says:

    So lemme get this straight… earlier this very morning, I read an article that she might cut her ‘bus tour’ short because of, among other things, the high cost of gas. So now, she’s got her itinerary going from DC to Iowa, then back to SoCar. I’m guessing she’ll head right up the coast to the New England primaries after that.

    I write about her here because it’s basically free. How do outfits like CNN and Fox justify spending countless $$ following her & her mouth-breathing family around on their sideshow tour? Does she really bring in that much in return money?

  5. legion says:

    Ponce:
    Ummmm…. no. Yenta maybe (’cause wouldn’t those two make a great First Couple?) but not Yalta.

  6. Jay Tea says:

    And Doug follows along, too, whining about how stupid everyone ELSE is for following her around and hanging on her every utterance.

    Mr. Pot? There’s a Ms. Kettle on Line One…

    J.

  7. Jay,

    It’s in the news. It affects the Presidential race. And it is far more important, and interesting, that Weinergate

  8. Vast Variety says:

    Weinergate sounds like it would be a great title for a gay porn with a comedy plot.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    Years ago, I read something that stuck in my mind. One of the British tabloids got nude photos of Prince Charles, and were enjoined from publishing them. The judge, in affirming the ban, stated “‘in the public interest’ does NOT mean the same as ‘interesting to the public.'”

    You wanna keep on talking about every single thing Palin does, you kinda forfeit your right to complain that she’s getting more attention than she deserves…

    J.

  10. mantis says:

    Who took that photo? Get your light meter out of the shot!

  11. CB says:

    She’s an idiot.

    she is not. she knows exactly what she is saying, exactly how absurd it is, and exactly how her base is going to recieve it. the politics of disillusion, played pitch perfect.

  12. CB says:

    You wanna keep on talking about every single thing Palin does, you kinda forfeit your right to complain that she’s getting more attention than she deserves…

    sorry for the double post but oh my sweet baby jesus, i agree …

  13. Brett says:

    I think I’ve passed through the stage of being annoyed by all the media coverage of Palin, to being amused by watching the Press squirm and chase after her paparazzi-style (although the paparazzi would probably be much better at getting closer to her).

  14. Jay,

    The first part of your comment demonstrates quite clearly why its good that we live in a country with a written First Amendment.

    As for the second, my criticism in the post is, as you will see, of the media which is covering Palin the way it covers Lindsey Lohan’s latest court appearance. Which is, perhaps, appropriate under the circumstances.

  15. Wiley Stoner says:

    So Doug, you think it is more newworthy to talk about what a private citizen does as she travels aroung in a bus followed by those who would distort anything she might say, than say an elected official who may have violated certain ethics and legal requirements of his job. No wonder you are a blogger here. Unless Palin declares she is in thr running for President, this is all so much fluff. Weiner, on the other hand may have committed acts which could get him removed from the House of Representatives. Yeah, you are right, Doug, from your perspective, it is much more important to keep your eye on a private ciitizen than it is to watch what government does. Evidently, you pic is reflective.

  16. JKB says:

    I write about her here because it’s basically free. How do outfits like CNN and Fox justify spending countless $$ following her & her mouth-breathing family around on their sideshow tour? Does she really bring in that much in return money?

    Oh, that is easy. Palin brings in eyeballs. If they ignore her, people will go elsewhere to get their news and they may not come back. Same reason Jon Stewart couldn’t ignore Weinergate, news he can ignore but leave comedy gold lying about and someone else will pick it up.

    Doubt my premise, look at how many comments the Palin posts generate around here.

  17. JKB says:

    Weinergate sounds like it would be a great title for a gay porn with a comedy plot.

    Well, it might be already. Jon Stewart and a commenter at Instapundit both chimed in that they’ve seen Weiner’s wiener and the picture looks nothing like him. Which makes me wonder, a. why are they checking him out and b. why do they remember such things. Now, if an old girlfriend were to comment, that would be different. It would be assumed she had up close and personal knowledge with objective sizing comparison.

    Now I read that he can’t definitively deny that that picture isn’t him. You know what that means, don’t you. Some time in the past, Weiner took a photo of his junk but doesn’t still have positive control of the image.

  18. mattb says:

    CB:

    she is not [an idiot]. she knows exactly what she is saying, exactly how absurd it is, and exactly how her base is going to recieve it.

    BINGO. Anyone who things she’s an idiot is off base. She may not be a serious candidate (I’ve yet to see anything to counter that — and yes I have read the “policy statements” she’s published). But she is extremely serious about maximizing her brand.

    Again, she will run. She will not run seriously. And she doesn’t *really* want to win — just sustain her base.

    And in running she will have some effect on the outcome. But anyone who things she had a real chance of winning the nomination or the presidency is either in the media (and has a reputation based on having to take her seriously, and this goes for friends and foes), is a “sky is falling” liberal, or is a “I’m-not-an-identity-politics,-identity-politics” conservative (btw, people in both of those camps are way too concerned about “the media”).

  19. anjin-san says:

    Palin/Lohan 2012?

  20. ponce says:

    Oh, that is easy. Palin brings in eyeballs.

    Is that true?

    Is there any data showing ratings rise when a “news” channel carries a story about Palin?

  21. mattb says:

    @Ponce:

    Is there any data showing ratings rise when a “news” channel carries a story about Palin?

    Need to dig it back up, but the general feedback is yes. Or rather enough that, combined with other things, it makes her a perfect story.

    Based on interviews, Palin hits a perfect “sweet-spot” for the current news landscape:

    1. She’s easy — meaning that she’s media friendly (as Dr. Taylor points out, you don’t have to be “friendly” with the media to be media friendly). Her training an experience mean that she knows how to get a message out in an easy to consume format. There’s not much work involved in covering Palin. And even when she doesn’t show you have a story. It’s the equivalent of local TV reports staking themselves out at the hall of justice or outside the police station. There’s always content with very little effort. And even though travel is involved, it’s still low cost news production (especially if you’re using local affiliates to cover most of the events).

    2. She’s got a built in base — Think of it as the “Howard Stern” phenomena… the claim was always that people who hated him listened longer. This leads to:

    3. She’s controversial. And as a predominant Right Wing/Conservative, neutrally covering one of her events can be used as a sign to combat accusations of liberal bias.

    4. She crosses over into page 4/celeb news — Covering her allows for a lot of topics to be covered at once.

    4. (and perhaps most importantly) For all of that, she’s still considered political news. And that’s key. There’s a lot of internal frustration at news organizations right now about not covering important news. And politics is still considered important. Journo’s argue that they’d rather be covering hard political news. That said, they’d rather cover Palin than not cover politics at all.

    BTW, people need to understand that (at least from journo’s perspectives) the celebrated destruction/loss of power of the mainstream press is exactly what has caused so much soft news coverage. Chances are this is going to actually get worse in the US for a while, as the increase in measurement tools mean that publishers can actually start to model which stories “sell” the best. That, plus, being able to track how much a story costs, has some really scare possibilities in the short term.

  22. mattb says:

    Opps… left something out in the first sentence…

    the things is that, given the cost of production, covering Palin produces enough of a bump (in terms of eyeballs, page clicks, forwarded stories, and comments) that, from a cost/benefit analysis, it’s a great return on investment for a news outlet.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Every day she pulls this is another day no one pays attention to Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney. She sucks all of the air out of the room.

    And who gave us Palin? John McCain and the GOP establishment. The very kinds of people now most desperate to get rid of her. She is karma made flesh.

    Ride on, Sarah, ride on.

  24. ponce says:

    Need to dig it back up, but the general feedback is yes. Or rather enough that, combined with other things, it makes her a perfect story.

    I’m biased because Palin’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me, but I’d say there’s a risk she burns out her tabloid audience like Anna Nicole Smith did.

    Palin was smart to take a break before the burnout hit, but how much of a charge did that put in her exposure batteries?

  25. Smooth Jazz says:

    “And Doug follows along, too, whining about how stupid everyone ELSE is for following her around and hanging on her every utterance. Mr. Pot? There’s a Ms. Kettle on Line One…”

    You don’t say!!! Can you believe this inside the Beltway, left wing hack who claims she is an idiot, cannot win the Presidency, belongs back in her Alaska Igloo, yaddayaddayadda – then spends post after post yapping on about how irrelevant she is and how he doesn’t like her – as if he doesn’t think we understood him the last 1000 times he repeated the same thing.

    Can this guy repeat himself or what! And then he has the audacity to talk about “symbiotic” relationship between Gov Palin and the press, as if some mealy mouth spin is going to disguise what is really going here: The guy has a serious case of Palin Derangement Syndrome ala radical blogs like Tbogg & DailyKOS.

  26. Smooth Jazz says:

    “I’m biased because Palin’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me”

    BFD. You’re a far left whack job, so everything about her is going to make your squirm. And Obamai makes the hair on the back of my neck crawl with his ah, ah, ah, ah, ha, ah, etc etc etc, his teleprompter head bobbing, and humongous ears. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

  27. wr says:

    Smoothie’s back! Yeah!

  28. tom p says:

    And Doug follows along, too, whining about how stupid everyone ELSE is for following her around and hanging on her every utterance.

    Mr. Pot? There’s a Ms. Kettle on Line One…

    Doug, for the first, last, and ONLY time, I agree with Jay here. You complain about how the media follows her every move,

    And, bizarrely, the press covers the whole thing, following her around like she’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan and constantly on the lookout for her next move.

    while at the same time you excuse your own behaviour….

    As for the second, my criticism in the post is, as you will see, of the media which is covering Palin the way it covers Lindsey Lohan’s latest court appearance. Which is, perhaps, appropriate under the circumstances.

    Doug, how many times have you posted about Lindsey Lohan or Paris Hilton? As far as I know, not once.

    Point: Jay Tea.

  29. tom p says:

    and for the record, I enjoy your posts about SP…. Just stop saying you “don’t have a problem with what an idiot she is” (or people paying attention to the “village idiot” that she has become) while complaining about what an idiot she is.

    It is what it is. Accept it and move on. (to jon huntsman)

  30. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jay Tea:

    You wanna keep on talking about every single thing Palin does, you kinda forfeit your right to complain that she’s getting more attention than she deserves…

    You wanna keep on commenting on every thread about Palin, you kinda forfeit your right to complain that too many people are commenting about Palin.

    You commenting on Doug commenting on the media covering Palin isn’t that different from Doug commenting on the media covering Palin. If you really think there are too many threads commenting on Palin you shouldn’t be posting so many comments on threads commenting on Palin. Speaking of pots and kettles.

  31. Kumi says:

    It must feel like paparazzi to her but hey, that’s what ‘cha get, one thing I don’t get is what do they mean by ;
    ‘the press should follow someone else more interesting around – like Elliott Gould’

    does anybody else get that bit of sarcasm?