The myth of Sarah Palin’s stupidity

In only the past couple days, just as the Republican presidential field seems to be forming the type of void that almost begs her to fill it, Sarah Palin has once again been called “stupid” in two high-profile media outlets.

The first came from one of the usual suspects, Chris Matthews and MSNBC, where the host dismissed Palin as having allegedly proven herself to be “profoundly stupid.”

The second occurred when the Huffington Post repeated a secondhand quote from an anonymous “Republican” who allegedly told a New York magazine reporter that Fox News head Roger Ailes “thinks” that Palin is “stupid” (just a day after Ailes himself, on the record, had mocked Matthews for the idiocy of his Palin statement).

As a veteran of the Palin media wars, part of me thinks that such allegations ought to be treated with all the credibility of a sixth-grade boy calling the girl he has a crush on “stupid.” After all, I thought we had put this Palin myth to bed when even Matt Lauer was forced to admit live on the Today Show that it was indeed a “lie” that the Palin whom he visited in Wasilla is unintelligent.

At the time, Lauer laughably told me that it was not necessary for him to correct his friends in the media because he didn’t think “everybody in the media ran out saying ‘Sarah Palin is an idiot.’” I thought then that Lauer actually somehow mistakenly bought into such an absurdity. Unless being forced to get up so early has finally eroded his ability to think for himself, I can’t believe that he still has that kind of blind faith in the media two years later.

So even though this is an argument that should have been easily won long ago, I still feel compelled, if only for the record, to once again separate fact from fiction.

With regard to Matthews’s specific allegation, it is just the latest in a long line of baseless attacks that the liberal host has made against Palin. At times it actually seems as if Matthews is obsessed with Palin (or at least the ratings which inevitably come with bashing her).

One of my biggest issues with Matthews here is that he never provides any real evidence to support the defamatory allegation that Palin isn’t intelligent. It is just accepted on MSNBC that it has already been proven beyond any doubt, much like the “fact” that President Obama is brilliant, that this is simply not worthy of any actual debate.

The other disgraceful element of Matthews’s anti-Palin crusade is that, just like this circumstance where his two guests were also decidedly anti-Palin, he rarely if ever even pretends to have on anyone who could possibly provide an alternative view (otherwise known as the truth).

Matthews grew up in Philadelphia in the same neighborhood as many members of my extended family and I have exchanged emails with him many times over the years. Despite this, he has never had the courage or fairness to have me on, and his program remains one of the very few cable news shows where I have never appeared to discuss/defend Palin.

Has cable news television really fallen so far that a host can constantly make gratuitous attacks against someone without even being compelled to have a guest on to provide the other side? Apparently, at least at MSNBC, it has.

As for the New York magazine quote alleging Palin’s boss at Fox News thinks she is “stupid,” this is emblematic of yet another dubious and seldom-used media tactic utilized by the media to go after Palin: anonymous/secondhand “sources.”

Since when is it acceptable “journalism” to quote one (not multiple) anonymous “source” claiming what someone else (who just went on the record defending her) “thinks” about the metal capacity of someone who is currently not an officeholder or candidate? That has simply never been the standard, but as Palin herself has said, when it comes to news coverage of her, “all bets are off.”