I seldom comment about U.S. politics, but when I came across a piece in the Washington Post, declaring February a Sarah Palin free month, I simply had to share it with you.
But today is the first day of the rest of my life. And so, I hereby pledge that, beginning on Feb. 1, 2011, I will not mention Sarah Palin — in print, online or on television — for one month. Furthermore, I call on others in the news media to join me in this pledge of a Palin-free February. With enough support, I believe we may even be able to extend the moratorium beyond one month, but we are up against a powerful compulsion, and we must take this struggle day by day.
I came to this inner strength by trusting in a power greater than myself: my former Washington Post colleague Howie Kurtz, now with the Daily Beast. A week ago, on his CNN show, “Reliable Sources,” I was complaining about the over-coverage of Palin when I found myself saying that “the best thing would be — it’s impossible, of course — that we in the media should declare some sort of a Sarah Palin moratorium.”
Palin clearly isn’t going away: “I am not going to sit down. I’m not going to shut up,” she told Hannity on Monday. But if we treat her a little less like a major political figure and a little more like Ann Coulter — a calculating individual who says shocking things to attract media attention — it won’t matter. Sure, we might lose some Web traffic or TV ratings, but we might also gain something. Remember the “Seinfeld” episode where George Costanza, by giving up sex, suddenly frees up brain power to learn Portuguese and Euclidean geometry, to teach Derek Jeter the physics of batting, to become a “Jeopardy” whiz and to solve a Rubik’s cube? If we stop obsessing over Palin, we might suddenly become experts in the federal budget or Medicare reimbursement rates.
How can you not want to get behind this? Seriously, we are feeding the beast every time we mention Palin. When she is not being outright hateful, her lack of intelligence means that she makes the most ridiculous statements. Palin is no longer a vice-presidential nominee and she didn’t even finish her term as governor — yet every single controversy that occurs, the media goes running like a trained dog to give a platform to her blather.
I absolutely support defending Palin against the sexism that is often aimed at her, but beyond that point, talking about Palin is feeding the beast. When we talk about her, we add legitimacy to her asinine claims. This is a woman who has put Democrats under cross hairs, and who could forget the infamous bulls eye list. Yet, somehow we are to believe that such hate rhetoric didn’t directly lead to violence. Poor Sarah is being picked on by the “liberal media”. This is a woman that feels that she has the right to spread her vitriolic hatred without consequence. Why oh why are people still giving credence to what she has to say given that we have been shown by incidents like the Arizona shooting that it comes with a great consequence?
I have not made a habit of blogging about Palin and her antics, in large part because to me, such hypocrisy is pretty evident and hardly needs more attention than the media has dedicated to it. I highly support the self-imposed ban started by Dana Milibank and hope that other media outlets will follow suit. Whatever consequences may arise from not covering Palin, are certainly less than would arise from continuing to act as though her specific brand of discourse has a place in a civilized society.