Apparently, the usual sober and fraught political commentary that often accompanies episodes of physical violence directed toward women disappears when the subject of that violence is a Palin.
The political press had a hearty chuckle at the expense of the Palins when it first broke that the former first family of Alaska was involved in an alcohol-fueled brawl. The “thrilla in Wasilla,” some called it. One might, however, have expected the laughter to die down after local police released audio of Bristol Palin who described through hysterical tears how she had been assaulted, dragged through the grass, and robbed. It did not.
“[E]very time you see John McCain on television, remember that this is what he intended to bring within a heart beat of the presidency,” wrote a pathologically obsessed Andrew Sullivan in reaction to the audio which purports to reveal a physical assault. “This is the man’s judgment. As he lectures us about the need for more wars, and the Beltway media kowtows to his authority, remember that.”
National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke noted that Sullivan has heaped far less scorn on the sitting vice president whose son was recently revealed to have engaged in illegal activities which resulted in his discharge from the Navy – activities for which “he is unlikely to face so much as an interview with the police.” How’s that for inequality?
But Cooke focuses primarily on an even stronger point, one which was first observed by The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis: Where are the feminists rending garments over the callous way in which a physical assault on a woman by a man is being portrayed in the press?
“Anyone who is concerned about a ‘war on women’ — but not disturbed by this report — is clearly biased,” Lewis wrote.
Enter CNN anchor Carol Costello.
“I never wanted to become the poster child for anything, let alone domestic violence. But my blood is boiling, so when I say shut up, I’m venting at all those people out there who insist on blaming the victim,” Costello wrote with righteous fury directed at the National Football League (and the morning show Fox & Friends) over what she considered an insufficient level of concern for an incident involving Ray Rice striking his fiancé.
Costello goes on to reveal that she, too, was the victim of what sounds like a horrible assault by her college boyfriend. It was a brave thing for her to admit, and it made her commentary on the lax treatment Rice received from the NFL that much more powerful. But this admission also branded her take on the Palin assault as one which is inexplicably hypocritical.
“Sit back and enjoy!” Costello exclaimed as she introduced her audience recently to the audio in which Bristol Palin recounts how she was attacked. “You’ll want to hear what she told cops about how it all started.”
Costello also confided in her audience that she had a “favorite part” of the audio which could later become courtroom evidence. Ghoulish.
The overwhelming sense of superiority some in the press feel toward the Palins simply clouds their better judgment. Costello would surely see the error of her ways if she were to read her disparate reactions to these two strikingly similar events, but, in the heat of the moment, she did not see Sarah Palin’s daughter as a women who had endured a physical assault; she saw her as a caricature worthy of mockery.
In an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday morning, Lewis joined a group of contrite Morning Joe hosts who conceded that they, too, initially covered the Palin “brawl” as a joke. “It did definitely have a humorous tone to it,” Brzezinski conceded. Lewis had shamed them into penitence.
“What happened to her is horrific, and I don’t think we should be joking about it,” Lewis said to the somber nods of his interlocutors.
For six years now, the Palin family has created a blind spot for the press, but only in recent years – since the 2012 election, in fact – has the left elevated tenets of the “war on women” to a position of near religious reverence. In the light of the new ecclesiastical codes of behavior this new philosophy imposes on its adherents, the actions of former President Bill Clinton in his relationship with Monica Lewinsky become far less forgivable. Similarly, the treatment the Palin’s have received from those in positions of power is viewed as reprehensible.
Maybe Republicans are going to learn to love this “War on Women” after all.
This post has been updated since its original publication.