Sunday, September 14, 2008

New York Times lives up to 24% approval rating

Jennifer Rubin does a terrific job of highlighting some of the bizarre moments in the New York Times article on Gov. Palin, but I couldn’t help highlighting some of my own.

An amazing amount of the NYT story is “he said-she said” reporting (rarely verified by real fact digging). This reporting wouldn’t pass Journalism 101 standards. Some examples:
Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.

No facts given to support the ludicrous assertion (more gossip column than political reporting) that someone was fired for falling in love with a friend. Just makes the assertion, and the NYT goes on.
But careers were turned upside down. The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.” The three quit as one.

Ms. Palin cited budget difficulties for the museum cuts. Mr. Cooper thought differently, saying the museum had become a microcosm of class and cultural conflicts in town. “It represented that the town was becoming more progressive, and they didn’t want that,” he said.

Days later, Mr. Cooper recalled, a vocal conservative, Steve Stoll, sidled up to him. Mr. Stoll had supported Ms. Palin and had a long-running feud with Mr. Cooper. “He said: ‘Gotcha, Cooper,’ ” Mr. Cooper said.

Mr. Stoll did not recall that conversation, although he said he supported Ms. Palin’s campaign and was pleased when she fired Mr. Cooper.

It should be easy to find out if the museum was closed because it was too “progressive” or if, in line with the budget cutting claim, employees were hired to replace those who quit and the museum kept going. But, the NYT doesn’t dig even an inch deep. Just makes the assertion, and the NYT goes on.
Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban for the mayor’s use — employees sarcastically called it the mayor-mobile.

Is this for real? A scandal for a mayor to have a city-owned vehicle to use? In my city not only the mayor but tons of city employees have city vehicles to use. And, stop the presses!, city money was actually used to pay for not only the mayor’s car, but the vehicles city employees use. Does the mayor of Wasilla have duties that might need a city car? Does the current mayor use a city car? NYT doesn’t say. Just makes the assertion, and the NYT goes on.
Another confidante of Ms. Palin’s is Ms. Frye, 27. She worked as a receptionist for State Senator Lyda Green before she joined Ms. Palin’s campaign for governor. Now Ms. Frye earns $68,664 as a special assistant to the governor. Her frequent interactions with Ms. Palin’s children have prompted some lawmakers to refer to her as “the babysitter,” a title that Ms. Frye disavows.

Frequent interactions? What does that mean? The NYT never says. Just makes the assertion, and the NYT goes on.

Then there are just some funny bits where the NYT reporters twist themselves into pretzels decrying what has in the past lauded or ignored.
When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.

Hmm. I think I remember another non-governmental employee helping out in White House decisions during the Clinton years. Didn’t now Sen. Clinton (then first lady Clinton), not on the federal payroll, even take on a major legislative project (health care)? In the Clinton years it was called “two for the price of one” and was seen as a benefit to the people to get unpaid, volunteer help at that level. But the Clinton’s were cool.
Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.

“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”

Hmm. Remember the heartwarming story when Barack Obama’s third grade teacher shared that young Barack wanted to be president. Or that a freshman senator from Illinois decided two years ago that aiming for vice-president wasn’t aiming high enough. But, Obama is cool.
As she assembled her cabinet and made other state appointments, those with insider credentials were now on the outs. But a new pattern became clear. She surrounded herself with people she has known since grade school and members of her church.

Weren’t both the Kennedy and Clinton administrations known for choosing long time associates and friends (from Massachusetts and Arkansas) to key administration positions? But the Kennedys and Clintons were cool.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.

Didn't John F. Kennedy chose his brother Bobby to be the U.S. attorney general? But Jack and Bobby were cool.
Like Mr. Bailey, she ["Ms. Frye", an assistant to the governor] is an effusive cheerleader for her boss.

“YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” Ms. Frye typed in an e-mail message to Ms. Palin in March.

I’m sure no Obama staffer has ever said to him that he is “awesome.” Obama staffers really don't need to. It seems to be the job of the press–like Chris Matthews feeling a tingling in his leg or the NYT’s rhapsody over Sen. Obama’s March Philadelphia speech as being comparable to speeches by Abraham Lincoln. But Chris Matthews and the NYT are cool.
In the middle of the primary, a conservative columnist in the state, Paul Jenkins, unearthed e-mail messages showing that Ms. Palin had conducted campaign business from the mayor’s office. Ms. Palin handled the crisis with a street fighter’s guile.

“I told her it looks like she did the same thing that Randy Ruedrich did,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “And she said, ‘Yeah, what I did was wrong.’ ”

Mr. Jenkins hung up and decided to forgo writing about it. His phone rang soon after.

Mr. Jenkins said a reporter from Fairbanks, reading from a Palin news release, demanded to know why he was “smearing” her. “Now I look at her and think: ‘Man, you’re slick,’ ” he said.
. . .

Many lawmakers contend that Ms. Palin is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated. Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.

During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.

Hmm. Palin obviously carried on state business during her 312 nights in Wasilla. That’s why she has an 80% approval rating. But, Sen. Obama has been mostly absent from his duties in the U.S. Senate for almost two of his less than four years in the Senate. And most of that time was spent on his presidential campaign. Didn’t he chair a subcommittee that did almost no work? But Obama is cool.

The New York Times is really living up to its 24% approval rating.

UPDATE: Apparently Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell the NYT reporters for this piece, have not developed their Google skills. In the opening lines of the article they claim:
Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

A search of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture site clearly says Commissioner Tom Irwin appointed Havemeister, not Palin:
Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin appointed Franci A. Havemeister Director of the State Divsion of Agriculture on August 1, 2007.

HAT TIP: Deanna


Namų Darkytoja said...

Democrats have a puzzle with a code name "Palin Problem". They have to solve it, and to do it effectively, because the prize is the White House.
Sarah is everywhere these days. No matter, if there are negative responses, rumors and resentments; or praises, support and encouragements. She filled media, and not only in America. Palinmania is spreading all over the world - everybody has their opinion on the new political celebrity of US.
The Palin avalanche is winning against Obama inundation. How should Democrats defeat her? Would it be better just keep their line of campaign and ignore populist idol of Republicans? Or should they put out their claws, oppose her and show her the real politics? - give advice to Democrats, if you think there still is an effective advice for them...

terrance said...

Well, there aren't a lot of good options. Probably the best bet on defeating Palin in the media would be to dump Sen. Obama as the top of the Democratic ticket and put Hillary Clinton there.

Next best would be for the media to turn their coverage away from vicious attacks (which just reminds everyone of how badly they treated Sen. Clinton and that they are still in the same groove of dissing anyone who runs against their favorite) and give Palin sweet, family story type coverage.

But, don't pass this on. I like Palin.