A Palin cone of silence? Update: Statement from Team McCain
posted at 10:03 am on September 5, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
According to Jay Carney at Time, the strategy from Team McCain regarding Sarah Palin will be to have her avoid media appearances and have her focus on campaign stops and stump speeches. However, if the clip that Carney produces below is all the evidence anyone has for this, then I’d suggest that Carney take another look at it again. That isn’t what Nicole Wallace said at all, and it frankly proves her point about the mainstream media and its animus towards Palin and John McCain:
Q. We know now that Sarah Palin can give one hell of a speech, she’s a natural, and that’s no mean feat. We don’t know yet, and we won’t know until you guys allow her to take questions, you know, can she answer tough questions about domestic policy, foreign policy —
NW: Wait, wait. Questions from who? From him, from you? Who cares? No offense, but —
Q: I think the American people care —
NW: I think the American people want to see her, but who cares if she can talk to Time Magazine? She can talk to the American people. They want to see how am I going to save my home.
Q: The American people need to know, just like they need to know about Joe Biden and Barack Obama —
NW: That she can talk to you?
Q: Not just to me — that she knows things about domestic and foreign policy that presidents and vice-presidents need to know.
NW: Right. But — but here’s the thing. I mean, the media called this … The media did something to this family that I’ve never seen before. In my life! And I think she took the stage last night and, you know, she made her own points. She — she put this discussion and this race and this convention in her own terms. And she didn’t do it by talking, all due respect, to people like you. She took the stage and talked to the American people about things they care about, how they’re going to save their homes.
Out of his, Carney launches a meme that the McCain campaign will put Palin in a bubble — which would be a neat trick, considering that they need her on the campaign trail in high-visibility states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and so on. It’s not as if she’ll be able to avoid reporters while campaigning, especially in this day and age, or that she won’t get asked these questions by voters and oppo plants alike while cameras roll.
Please point out anywhere in here where Carney can reasonably quote the McCain campaign as saying Palin will not appear on interview shows or interact with reporters. What Wallace says is that instead of relying on these journalists to vet Palin, she’s going to focus her message and communication above the media and directly to the American people — basically, a Reagan strategy. Reagan also did interviews and press conferences, but he talked past the media filter, and that’s what Wallace says here that Palin will do.
She’s also telling Carney that he thinks a little too highly of himself and his profession, especially after the miserable performance they gave this week in handling her selection. Want a few examples?
“There’s also this issue that on April 18th, she gave birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome…. Children with Down’s syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?” John Roberts CNN
“How can a woman run a state and bring up five children at the same time?… I think they have every right to ask that…” Liz Trotta, Media Prof at New School
“Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is the mother of five children, one of them a four-month-old with Down Syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make?” Sally Quinn, Washington Post
“Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won’t affect the other in the next couple of months?” Bill Weir, Good Morning America
” There is another question though which essentially I’ve heard expressed here many times today and from calls elsewhere, and that is the decision made by Sarah Palin herself, when knowing her daughter’s condition, by accepting John McCain’s offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question… The question of how it affected her daughter is not open to question. It has made her daughter a front-page item for the country.” Mark Shields, PBS
“But there’s also, I think the part of it is the particular dynamic of her family, Megan. Her youngest child, down’s syndrome and now her oldest daughter is pregnant. And there are some moms out there that are angry, that are saying she has put her family unfairly into the spotlight.” Meredith Viera, Today
“Congresswoman, what about the argument that, you know, vice president is a tough job, and that having a four month old baby, who has Down’s Syndrome, that will have special needs, requires extra time, that, that she should be focusing on her four month old, that some people have said that, fairly or unfairly. What do you think of that?’ Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC
Pitiful. Wallace points out that the mainstream media has a lot of gall appointing themselves the arbiter of candidate vetting after this performance, and she’s right. She never says or even intimates that Palin will boycott the press in the nine weeks to the election. (via Jazz Shaw, who is right that such a strategy would be incredibly stupid — if it existed.)
Update: The McCain campaign issued this response today after I asked them for clarification:
Gov. Sarah Palin spoke directly to 40 million people on Wednesday night. Only in the warped worldview of the beltway media establishment would that constitute a ‘cone of silence’. We will conduct our campaign our way and on our timeline.
Translation: Pound sand. I suspect that they have a list of shows on which Palin will not appear, and it will probably include those from which I’ve taken the above quotes, but that we’ll see her shortly on others. However, anyone thinking that any of the four principals could possibly find a “cone of silence” in today’s political world has to be fooling themselves.