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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Palin's Turning Point

Sarah Palin's appearance on the Conan O'Brien late night show generated huge positive buzz. Even (some of) the Palin haters were hard-pressed to come up with a negative about it.

This marks something of a turning point for Palin. More so than daytime media, late night shows seem to have the power to define a public persona.

Usually, late night references to Palin are of the demeaning variety, most notably David Letterman's near continuous anti-Palin jihad and the Saturday Night Live Tina Fay skits mocking Palin. When Palin appeared on SNL during the campaign, the appearance was damage control, at best.

Palin's appearance on Conan's show was very, very different on a variety of levels. Most obviously, Palin was presented in a sympathetic, humorous manner, and allowed to present a side of her personality most media viewers never see. Palin was part of the show, not the target of the show.

Perhaps even more important was the context. The segment started out with Palin being mocked, mildly, by William Shatner, in the manner of making sentences from Going Rogue seem so silly when presented in Shatner's signature style. If that's all there was to the segment, it would have been par for the course.

By bringing Palin onto the stage with Shatner, and having Palin mock sentences from Shatner's own book, the show sent an enormous subliminal message: Perhaps some of the mocking of Palin that goes on in the entertainment media was not justified since anyone could be the subject of such mockery.

Palin thus took on the pervasive liberal and Democratic caricature of Palin, and did so in a humorous and sympathetic way. Palin was allowed to fight mockery with mockery. Touché.

Palin's appearance on the Conan show may mark a turning point. The mainstream media, very begrudgingly and in small steps, is shifting its approach to Palin as polls show Palin's popularity rising. Palin's appearance on Oprah brought the show ratings it had not seen in years.

Obama used his appearance on Oprah, and other entertainment media love, to establish his popularity. Which is why it damages Obama's image so badly when SNL mocks Obama. At this point, Obama needs the media more than the media needs Obama.

Palin, by contrast, established her popularity independent of, and despite, the entertainment media. When it comes to Palin, the entertainment media is following not leading. We have reached the point where the mainstream entertainment media needs Palin more than Palin needs the media.

Related Posts:
Never Missing An Excuse To Attack Trig Palin
Wonkette Goes After Trig Palin Again
Psst...Don't Tell Andrew Sullivan Our Secret

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  1. YES! And she did it all on her own. They bloodied her for a whole year and this woman is standing tall and more popular than ever because she EARNED it. She isn't prefabbed, or a media created empty suit. Now that's strong! You go girl you have my vote and respect!!!

  2. I would have to disagree with you slightly on your characterization of her appearance on SNL as "damage control". I think she showed that show's audience that she is confident, positive, and completely independent of the media. She is a genuine, self-made woman, and it comes across every single time she appears on a program like this or Conan or Oprah. And, the fact that she rarely does these appearances [and still pulls massive ratings] speaks volumes when compared to Obowma's incessant need to be on the TV

  3. Yes, I agree. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien was a fine thing for her to do and the subliminal message about mocking was spot on - anyone's words can be made fun of, if the "mocker" says them in a theatrical, sarcastic way.

    My God, the plodding, pompous, narcissistic words and demeanor of the Prophet Obama is chock full of potential material to use to mock him but no one does, for he is "special" and treated with kid gloves by the MSM.

  4. Great Post! I agree that her performance in the show is a serious turning point, I thought exactly the same when I saw it!

  5. Palin, by contrast, established her popularity independent of, and despite, the entertainment media.

    Rush Limbaugh likes to say the media didn't make him and therefore the media can not break him. They have surely tried for more than 20 years with no success, so he may have something there. And Sarah Palin may get to prove the theory.

    We have reached the point where the mainstream entertainment media needs Palin more than Palin needs the media.

    Yes! And I have loved watching the liberal heads explode as they beg the media to stop giving her a platform. But the media can't seem to stop themselves. Hee!

  6. THis dovetails wellwith late night *finally* starting to take a few potshots at Obama.

    SNL, then Leno, Jon Stewart in daytime.
    Leterman has been totally biased, and Conana's been wimpy on Obama jokes too, but this redeems him some.

  7. Palin's performance was very loosey-goosey. She performed like a pro. That contrasts starkly with the stiffness and artificiality of most politicians on air. She said to the entertainment world: "Look at me, I can be as entertaining as a pro. Just let me loose and stand back. I might even be a better performer qua performer than most of the hosts who want/don't want me on their programs."

  8. Palin and Shatner- it was a match made in heaven!
    And using the "beat" background was beyond perfect!
    For us "olden people"
    Wish the Obamanots would get it.
    Thanks for the post= GREAT

  9. Sarah Palin certainly has had an amazing month.

    One other thing happening this month may in the long run help her. We learned that the public image of Tiger Woods was a manufactured image, and it would not have lasted as long as it did if members of the press had not protected him. A similar situation occurred with John Kennedy, who was hailed as a young, athletic family man when he was in fact troubled with a serious back problem and was constantly whoring around. Ted Kennedy and John Edwards are two others whose manufactured images were protected by the press. Certainly there are many others. However, it is clear that Sarah Palin is not among them because she is hated by the press. The same cannot be said for Barack Obama.

    So there may be a silver lining to having the press hate you.

  10. I loved it when she came out. She had this stern smile on her face and was shaking her hand at Shatner, as if to say, "You naughty boy! Just you wait. I'll learn you manners"

    The whole point was that she wasn't taking her critics seriously. Shatner was mild compared to many, but she discounted them all.

    That is the right way to handle this -- just like she did in her address at the Gridiron Club. She lampooned the intellectuals and journalists there for 11 minutes and she had them roaring.


    She'd make a good stand up comedienne. She knows how to deliver a punch line.

    If she refuses to take her critics seriously, it allows them to climb down off their ridiculous high horse.

  11. I thought it was interesting reading the comments on a left-wing site after viewing her video. She got a lot of compliments, people saying they like her personally even if they don't like her politics. Not all went that way, but it definitely was different from the past.

  12. This is just speculation, but I think the independents, and even some Democrats and some of the anti-Palin Republicans, are coming to a "Could she realistically have been worse than Obama?" position. Again, I could be wrong, but I suspect that it's along the lines of "You know, if the price for a decent economy is that we don't fund overseas abortions and faith-based initiatives get some funding, that might just be a bargain I'm willing to strike."

    Of course, Pres. Obama still has three years to dig himself out, the media can attack him for two years and then say "But in the end, he's way better than that snowbilly," and Palin has to keep her popularity up for that time without some kind of Macaca Moment. It can definitely be done, but it's definitely a challenge.

  13. The real reason it was a turning point is because of the audience response to her appearance. It showed that her appeal is not limited to a narrow base of fans, or just people in flyover country.

  14. Like the WaPo OpEd, and Oprah, The Tonight Show managed to get significant buzz and hits from Mrs. Palin. As Harper Collins has learned, you can make a lot more money WITH Mrs. Palin than against her. Let Editor and Publisher sniff and gripe: they're going out of business.

    What do you suppose William Shatner would give to get Mrs. Palin on his interview show? And what do you think the chances of Letterman getting a visit from Sarah Palin?

  15. "And I have loved watching the liberal heads explode as they beg the media to stop giving her a platform."

    Which is the standard liberal response to people they disagree with. They want to censor them, instead of out-argue them. You can see it in the global warming "debate" and President Obama's attempts to exclude Fox News from official events. Andrew Klavan describes their technique as "Shut up, they explained."


  16. I'm not certain about Sarah Palin as "our" candidate in 2012, but while watching the Sunday Night Football game this evening I was heartened to see that the promo for Tonight Show/Conan led with about 5 seconds of Palin from her appearance.

    I was, to say the least, shocked.

    Turning point? Hmmmmmmm.....

  17. Could the media be supporting Palin because they see that a split repub. ticket is to their advantage?

  18. Palin, by contrast, established her popularity independent of, and despite, the entertainment media.

    I'd go even further than that. They're the ones who've made her such a phenomenon. They've turned her into a symbol for everybody who's ever been helplessly frustrated by the media's left-wing bias. And after a year of non-stop attacks on anybody who dares to disagree with Barry & Nancy & Co., that's a lot of people.

    Sarah Palin is kind of like a bar of soap in the bath: The harder they try to crush her into a pulp, the higher she flies.

  19. The mouth-foaming dead-enders of the left must have hated the crowd response.... which is a good thing.

  20. If Palin runs for the nomination and does well, the republicans will not be split. The entire superficial case against Palin is that she is not electable. If she clearly is electable, that case collapses and they will fall in line despite themselves. The Frum crowd are followers, not leaders.

  21. Sarah is well on her way. She is appealing to a younger generation of conservatives. And particularly young conservative women.

    That can't be a bad thing for Conservatives as a whole. Can it?

    I am gonna go one step farther and say that the GOP should be bowing at the altar of John McCain for lifting Sarah from obscurity to be the new face of Conservatism. There is so much genius in that ... I can't really cover it all here. Except to say ...

    Liberals have lost their way where feminism is concerned. Sarah has arrived on the scene at a time when she is sorely needed for the next generation of young women. Just as the Third Wave of Feminism has crashed upon the shore with an epic FAIL, by trying to embrace too much "diversity" and "cultural relativism."

    The Third Wave's embrace of all things Islam is the harbinger of it's relativistic demise.

    Sarah represents the return of a Susan B. Anthony/ E.C. Stanton style of feminism. Call it the fourth wave if you want. But... I like to think of it as a return to the first wave.

  22. I love this post and the spirited comment thread. Sarah brings out the best in people who are paying attention. Commenter coolpillow1111 says it all

    Palin and Shatner- it was a match made in heaven!

    As I wrote the other day in "The GOP's secret weapon: William Shatner":

    William Shatner's dueling dance with Sarah Palin on "The Tonight Show" last night was pure Denny Crane, the lovably lecherous lawyer he played in Boston Legal.

  23. Treacher: love to get my hands on that soap!

  24. Astute observation, Stray Yellar Dawg?

    Call it the fourth wave [of feminism] if you want. But . . . I like to think of it as a return to the first wave.

    Everything that was old is new, and it appeals not just to the younger generation but to women -- and a lot of men -- of all ages.

  25. She is very willing to poke fun at herself, something many politicians are not. Self-mockery requires security in oneself, a certain amount of humility and a great sense of humor - characteristics not evident in Obama in particular and most lefties in general.

    Shatner was the perfect partner for her in this subversive, late-night appearance because he is not only an icon but easily partakes in the ridiculous. Palin appears to have won over everyone involved (Conan, Shatner, crew and audience). This is a gift that cannot be measured and cannot be acquired.

    Ridicule is diffused when the target basks in the ridicule and turns it back on the source. The target becomes likable in a way that causes big problems for his or her detractors.

  26. I don't think it matters whether Palin runs for president in 2012 or not. If she runs, she has a good chance to win. If she doesn't run, whoever she endorses will win.

  27. The end, when the two of them walked off together showed that the whole thing was a friendly get together and all in fun. It made the entire skit work.