Winners may never quit, but these days, quitters can win, too.
In a lengthy cover story for New York Magazine, Gabriel Sherman examines “How Sarah Palin has become a singular national industry.”
Sherman’s article, “The Revolution will be commercialized,” carries the following subheader: “Sarah Palin is already president of right-wing AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â€and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a position with a very big salary.”
The article explains the situation Sarah Palin faced the day before she stepped down as governor of Alaska: “Her sky-high approval ratings in AlaskaÃ¢â‚¬â€which had topped 80 percent before John McCain picked herÃ¢â‚¬â€had withered to the low fifties. She faced a hostile legislature, a barrage of ethics complaints, and frothing local bloggers who reveled in her misfortune. All this for a salary of only $125,000? The worst was that she had racked up $500,000 in legal bills to fend off the trooper scandal and other investigations. She needed money and worried about it constantly. ‘You have to keep in mind,’ Bill McAllister, her thenÃ¢â‚¬â€œpress secretary, told me, ‘she and Todd were middle class. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re rich now, but not then.’”
And, whatever one thinks of her intelligence, she was more than shrewd enough to see that there was money to be made on her newfound national profile, and she hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been the one making itÃ¢â‚¬â€this was her particular American resentment. The tabloid-media culture began cashing in on the Palin-family drama ever since her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, and boyfriend Levi Johnston stepped on the Xcel Energy Center stage at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. On multiple occasions, Palin complained to campaign aides about Kaylene Johnson, an Alaska journalist, who had just published a book about her. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe that woman is making so much money off my name,Ã¢â‚¬Â Palin said.
From the time of her infamous wardrobe selection, money had been an issue in PalinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s politics. Her relationship with the McCain campaign had been plagued by financial misunderstanding. In her book Going Rogue, she claimed that the McCain campaign had left her on the hook for her Troopergate bills. Palin was furious. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Deep down, she wanted to make money,Ã¢â‚¬Â a McCain adviser says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was always financial stress. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not wealthy people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Palin knew there were ways to solve her money problems, and then some. Planning quickly got under way for a book. And just weeks after the campaign ended, reality-show producer Mark Burnett called Palin personally and pitched her on starring in her own show. Then, in May 2009, she signed a $7 million book deal with HarperCollins. Two former Palin-campaign aidesÃ¢â‚¬â€Jason Recher and Doug McMarlinÃ¢â‚¬â€were hired to plan a book tour with all the trappings of a national political campaign. But there was a hitch: With AlaskaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strict ethics rules, Palin worried that her day job would get in the way. In March, she petitioned the Alaska attorney generalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office, which responded with a lengthy list of conditions. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was no way she could go on a book tour while being governorÃ¢â‚¬Â is how one member of her Alaska staff put it.
As a result, Sherman notes, “less than a year later, Sarah Palin is a singular national industry,” and “no one else has rolled politics and entertainment into the same scintillating, infuriating, spectacularly lucrative package the way Palin has or marketed herself over multiple platforms with the sophistication and sheer ambitiousness that Palin has shown, all while maintaining a viable presence as a prospective presidential candidate in 2012.”
The numbers are staggering. Over the past year, Palin has amassed a $12 million fortune and shows no sign of slowing down. Her memoir has so far sold more than 2.2 million copies, and Palin is planning a second book with HarperCollins. This January, she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News worth $1 million a year, according to people familiar with the deal. In March, Palin and Burnett sold her cable show to TLC for a reported $1 million per episode, of which Palin is said to take in about $250,000 for each of the eight installments.
At the Washington Post, David Weigel observes,
And I can’t let this part go without comment.
“Online, right-wing sites like the Drudge Report frequently plug Palin headlines, while PalinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence at liberal outlets like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo routinely sparks hundreds of reader comments.”
As with the tea parties, Palin benefits from an intense partisan interest in news about her. To be fair, however, many of the comments that accompany stories on Palin’s newest blog posts plaintively ask the editors of those liberal web sites why they’re giving her so much attention.
Conservative Noel Sheppard calls the article a “shocker” at Newsbusters.
New York Magazine’s lengthy cover story about Sarah Palin hitting newsstands Monday may end up being a disappointment for liberals expecting a classic hit piece thoroughly disemboweling the former Alaska governor.
On the other hand, the picture Gabriel Sherman paints in his 6000-word “The Revolution Will Be Commercialized” of an almost desperate woman willing to sell her soul to pay Troopergate-related legal bills after losing her bid for Vice President will not sit well with conservatives either.
Complicating matters for Palin fans will be the article concluding with the opinions of Bristol Palin’s former fiancÃƒÂ© Levi Johnston.
Despite all that, Sherman had some remarkably positive things to say about Palin likely to the dismay of his largely New York City-based readership.