Palin hit piece an example of shoddy journalism

Rusty Weiss Editor, The Mental Recession
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Michael Joseph Gross of Vanity Fair is the kind of journalist you’ve come to expect these days.  He’s the kind of journalist that tabloid reporters look at with disdain.  The kind of reporter producing work that even TMZ photogs would consider beneath them.  He’s the kind of journalist you’d expect to find rooting through one’s garbage for some deep, dark secret to expose to the world.

His recent hit piece on Sarah Palin follows the same theme, entitled, “Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury.In this piece, Gross goes on a mind-numbingly long (10,000+ words) diatribe about Palin’s secretive, dark, backstage persona.

“Her on-the-record statements,” Gross says, “amount to a litany of untruths and half-truths.”

With so many words focusing on Palin’s life being a lie, one would imagine that the journalist had a host of witnesses, friends, or sources from which to pool information.  And indeed, Gross has plenty.  There’s just one problem.  He can’t name any of them.

Allow me to clarify.  It’s not that he can’t find any sources with actual names; it’s that they all have really weird names.  Names like . . .

  • The bellhops in Kansas
  • The bellman at a mid-western hotel
  • The maids
  • A onetime gubernatorial aide
  • One close aid
  • One aid (presumably not so close)
  • A campaign aide (twice)
  • One friend
  • A woman, who was described by another person with firsthand knowledge of her situation
  • Personal assistants
  • Others who have worked with Palin
  • A bartender at one of the town’s best restaurants

The author himself admits that finding people who actually know Palin is difficult.

In his own words, “virtually no one who knows Palin well is willing to talk about her on the record.”

Because of this, Gross apparently decided to hunt down bellhops and maids at various hotels for his hard-hitting piece.

Sweeping allegations in the column are so fantasy-filled, that one would expect an actual legitimate source to verify the claims.  Claims such as . . .

  • She inhabits “a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family.”
  • She uses Piper as a prop to “make a public display of maternal affection.”
  • She speaks in “code phrases expressing solidarity with fundamentalist Christians.”
  • That “anywhere you peel back the skin of Sarah Palin’s life, a sad and moldering strangeness lies beneath.”
  • Wasilla is so frightened of Sarah that the place “feel(s) like . . . a place populated entirely by abuse survivors.”

Though unable to actually locate someone close to Palin to provide actual quotes, Gross has done some extensive research when it comes to Palin.  Or rather, he has used the extensive research of others.  One blog in particular is praised because “without these blogs, the world would have much less information about Palin’s life right now.”

Immoral Minority, the blog he is specifically referring to when he says ‘these blogs,’ is cited shortly prior to that statement as having created fictional screen grabs quoting Palin.

In those screen grabs, from an interview with Sean Hannity, Palin says, “Yeah I told Levi to place his nasty sperm filled nuggets right here before he started his apology to my family. And every time he did not look sorry enough to me, I just gave them a little squeeze.”

Without journalistic integrity like that, we simply wouldn’t know the real Sarah Barracuda?

From there, Gross moves on to share creepy tales of a shared dinner with fellow Palin stalker Joe McGinniss.  During the dinner Gross realizes that the fence that Todd Palin had built to provide some level of privacy from McGinniss was quite inadequate.

He states that, “… even with the 14-foot-high fence the Palins put up the week McGinniss moved in, it was possible to see several of the Palins’ windows, a fair bit of the yard, and much of the lakefront edge of their property.”

A comforting thought for the Palin family, I’m sure.

Toward the end of the column, Gross lets everyone know that he is still in the business of staring at the Palin house from across the street.

“The freshly paved driveway is blocked by a new, spiked gate, which, though forbidding, is ornamental and freestanding, and not connected to a fence,” he says.  “From a thin piece of wire looped over one of the gate’s central spikes hangs a large metal decoration. It is five-pointed and two feet high and wide.”

Todd may want to wrap that sucker all the way around the yard.

Through it all, Gross surmises that everyone in Palin’s wake is experiencing the same emotion – sadness.

Not nearly as sad as the state of journalism after this column though . . .

Rusty can be contacted via his website: www.mentalrecession.com