The latest entry in the Sarah-Palin-Is-One-Dumb-Bunny file is what MSNBC calls WORST POSSIBLE BACKDROP FOR TV NEWS INTERVIEW.
Governor Palin arrived at the Triple-D Farm and Hatchery outside Wasilla the other day to "pardon" a turkey in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a ritual many governors have performed in recent years as the kind of fluff-piece they know the media is sure to cover.
She did it with her usual aplomb, dressed in a skirt and heels standing, one imagines, in turkey poop. The local media dutifully covered the story as their lead-out on the evening news, but what has made international news is the interview that happened after the pardon.
Palin took a few questions from the press pool on her family's holiday plans, and then met with a another camera crew for a short interview. For most of the three-minute tape, a farm worker is bleeding and decapitating a turkey just a few feet behind her.
We did get a good chuckle out of the video here at Maison Michon, but the more I thought about it, the more it began to stink.
This was one of those pieces of tape that floats around TV newsrooms and occasionally makes it up the ladder to New York. Without the backdrop, the interview was pointless -- mostly a rehashing of issues that would otherwise not have made it into a story on a busy news day. It was just going to sit on a shelf somewhere in case it was needed later. But the cognitive dissonance of Palin's words against the casual slaughtering of a gigantic turkey was tailor-made for "Countdown." And from there, it was going to go viral.
The thing is, the camera crew and reporter knew full well how that was going to look on film before they started filming. All they had to do is say, "Excuse me, Governor, could you just move two feet to the left? Thanks!"
Yes, they asked her if she minded the backdrop, and she responded "No worries." I don't think that's a deal-breaker.
Alaska, despite it's immense geographical size, is a small state in terms of population. Like a lot of small-state politicians, Palin doesn't have a particularly good grasp of staging. She's a meat-eater from a family of hunters: she knows how meat gets to her plate, and it doesn't shock her. That she lives in a nation of people who just like their meat to get to their plate by some mysterious, sanitary process that doesn't involve blood or ickiness might well have escaped her.
In this, Palin is typical of those pols who blow out of the hinterlands and on to the national stage every couple of election cycles and charm the pants of the media with their naturalness, their complete lack of guile. The charm quickly wears off, and they go back to being rednecks and rubes, while the more slickly-produced candidates regain the spotlight.
While it isn't the media's job to make a politician look better than they are, they should not go out of their way to make them seem foolish -- or if they do, at least keep the blooper reel confined to the station Christmas party.
- Previous Post: In Defense of Helen Mirren