November 15th, 2009
10:59 AM ET
5 years ago

Reliable Sources: Palin, Prejean pursue different media strategies


Washington (CNN) – As anticipation builds ahead of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's book release Tuesday, attention is also focusing on how Palin, who will appear Monday on The Oprah Winfrey Show, will handle the very same media outlets that she railed against endlessly during and after her vice presidential campaign. Palin's book, "Going Rogue: An American Life," has stirred controversy even before its release, with an aide to her former running mate, presidential candidate John McCain, calling the account "fiction." A war of words has also erupted between Palin and the Associated Press, which obtained and reported on the book Friday, prompting Palin to say the AP’s account was “erroneously reported.”

CNN's Howard Kurtz discussed the irony of Palin's media strategy and the sparks she is likely to ignite, during a discussion with cultural experts on Reliable Sources Sunday morning.

Lola Ogunnaike, a pop culture commentator and former CNN reporter, said the back-and-forth relationship Palin has with the press can leave viewers perplexed.

"[The media] keep giving her a platform and she keeps embracing it. So I don't quite understand why she has such an adversarial relationship with the mainstream media, because they seem to love her," Ogunnaike said.

Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, said Palin's book will be a huge sales success, in part because just about every media platform wants to cover her.

"This is a brilliant book-selling campaign," Thompson said. "Part of it is that she's managed to deputize the entire entertainment-journalistic-industrial complex as part of her promotional campaign. Everybody is talking about this. David Letterman has been making jokes about this book for weeks before it’s coming. She has managed to orchestrate a drum roll for this book...Her narrative here is all about the idea that she's up against gossip and unfair media treatment," Thompson said.

Amanda Carpenter, a political columnist for The Washington Times, said Palin's book tour is a well-deserved opportunity to get back at the press for how she was covered during the 2008 campaign.

"She's entitled to capitalize on everything that she's able to because she was so unfairly smeared by the media throughout much of this," Carpenter said. "I wonder if there's a little bit - I hate to be conspiratorial - a lot of liberal media is building her up because she's perceived as being very easy to take down."

Palin, a former Miss Alaska finalist, is the hero of another ex-beauty queen, Carrie Prejean, who conducted her own media tour last week for her book "Still Standing."

It was quite a week for Prejean, who had to field questions about making a solo sex tape and sending it to her boyfriend, which ended in a classic TV moment when she took her microphone off in the middle of an interview on CNN's Larry King Live.

During an interview on NBC's Today, Prejean claimed the media is trying to “silence” her because she said at the Miss USA pageant that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legalized.

In addition to Today, Prejean also appeared this week on Fox News' Hannity, ABC's The View, and, of course, on CNN's Larry King Live.

Nobody on the Reliable Sources panel thought Prejean's CNN interview was anything less than a disaster. Prejean removed her microphone because King asked her why she settled a lawsuit out of court with the Miss California pageant. Prejean was stripped of the Miss California title earlier this year.

"What's so funny about that is this woman cannot make an exit,” Thompson said. “If you're going to rip off your mike and storm out, you've got to storm out. She ripped off her mike and then she kept sitting there. She really needs to kind of study her showbiz timing if she's going to pull this kind of stuff off.”

Thompson also said that it is unfair for Palin to be compared to Prejean in any way other than their common affinity for pageantry.

"I think [Prejean] actually expected when she went on that it was likely she would walk off, and this is very different than Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin was a vice presidential candidate of a major political party. This is P.T. Barnum time."

Carpenter said Prejean was in over her head with this series of high-profile interviews, but that the assumption by some that she's a Sunday school teacher is way off.

"Just because she's against gay marriage, they thought she was a nun on both sides of the aisle. Not true," Carpenter said.

As far as Prejean's treatment by the media goes, Ogunnaike said simply, "I don't understand what Carrie Prejean's problem is."

Ogunnaike told Kurtz, "If she walked on your show, you would put her on air."

Kurtz did not refute Ogunnaike's claim.


Filed under: Sarah Palin • State of the Union
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Tim

    The media that Sarah claims to hate is the very thing that has kept her in the spotlight. Without it, she'd be at home eating fish heads with her family.

    November 15, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Emma

    Sarah and Carrie – what a pair of buddies. Actually, they are both free to have their opinions but their complaints about the media are frivolous. The lack of their ability to articulate their disagreement with the media and others in a meaningful, astute fashion says so much about them as they undertake their journey to become voices of the future in America.

    November 15, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |