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GOP efforts to paint Palin as media victim resonating with voters
Nick Juliano
Published: Thursday September 4, 2008

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The Republican party's efforts to portray Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's previously unknown running mate, as a victim of a national press corps bent on her destruction seem to be paying off.

A new poll reveals that half of US voters "think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage," according to Rasmussen Reports.

Palin, the first term governor whose previous political experience amounts to serving as mayor of a town of 9,000 people and leading a Parent Teacher Association, has been dogged by negative stories this week about her efforts to punish state troopers who refused to fire her brother in law and questions over whether her fairly hands-off role as de facto head of the state's national guard give her the foreign affairs experience necessary to be a heartbeat from the presidency. The "family values" conservative who favors abstinence-only education in schools also was forced to reveal that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, and there was some suggestion that perhaps Palin should focus primarily on being a mother to her five children instead of running for office.

At their convention this week, Republicans have taken nearly as much aim at the national media as they have at the Obama campaign, painting both as examples of an ensconced, elitist culture that is out of step with everyday Americans. The anti-media crusade certainly provides easy fodder for the GOP faithful, but it also seems to be resonating among a population at large that still knows little about the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Nearly one in four voters say the perceived negative attacks on Palin make them more likely to support the GOP ticket in November, although about 19 percent say Palin's presence in the No. 2 spot makes it less likely they'll vote for McCain.

Independent voters seem as likely as anyone to buy into the story of a vindictive press, with 49 percent of unaffiliated voters saying they believe reporters are trying to "hurt" Palin.

Some reporters are getting fed up with the GOP's efforts to paint them as just a bunch of big meanies. Politico's Roger Simon attempts to counteract this criticism, with a column facetiously titled, "Why the media should apologize," pointing out that reporters are simply doing their jobs in questioning Palin.

"It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols," he writes.

But where did we go wrong with Sarah Palin? Let me count the ways:

First, we should have stuck to the warm, human interest stuff like how she likes mooseburgers and hit an important free throw at her high school basketball tournament even though she had a stress fracture.

Second, we should have stuck to the press release stuff like how she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere (after she supported it). [...]

Fourth, we should stop making with all the questions already. She gave a really good speech. And why go beyond that? As we all know, speeches cannot be written by others and rehearsed for days. They are true windows to the soul.

Unless they are delivered by Barack Obama, that is. In which case, as Palin said Wednesday, speeches are just a “cloud of rhetoric.”

On the experience question, Republicans also seem to be faring well in their efforts to argue that Palin's limited tenure and dearth of foreign experience matches her up well against Obama.

Democrats have pointed out that McCain seemed to have abandoned what was essentially the basis for his entire campaign up until last Friday -- the premise that America could not afford to elect such a new quantity to national office. Republicans have failed to yield, though, marking an important-in-their mind distinction between "executive experience" -- that is, running a city or a state as mayor or governor (which, by the way, McCain has never done) -- and whatever it is Obama has done.

A not insubstantial number of voters are buying this distinction as well, Rasmussen found. Thirty-nine percent give Palin the experience edge over Obama, while nearly half maintain that the Democratic candidate has the experience necessary to lead the country.