Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Sarah Palin’s latest Facebook screed provides enormous insight into not only the way her mind works, but how it is fed by — and feeds into — a long-term strategic plan by the right. First, the insight into her own posing as the brave truth-telling David battling the media Goliath:

When it comes to responding to the media, the standard warning is: Don’t pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel because calling out the media and holding them accountable is a risky endeavor. Too often the first instinct is to ignore blatant media bias, crudeness, and outright lies, and just hope the media instigator will grow up and provide fairer coverage if you bite your tongue and not challenge the false reporting of an openly hostile press.

Really? I’d like her to name one person who actually takes that position. I can’t think of anyone, especially in the circles she runs in. Can you name a prominent conservative for whom attacks on media bias are not a standard part of their stump speech and their only response to anything in the media that makes them look bad? I can’t. So she’s invented this straw man of weak-kneed people who lack the courage to stand up to the allegedly lying media. And now her role in this little fictional drama:

But I’ve never bought into that. That’s waving the white flag. I just can’t do it because I have too much respect for the importance of a free press as a cornerstone of our democracy, and I have great respect for the men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to defend that First Amendment right. Media, with freedom comes responsibility.

Friends, too often conservatives or Republicans in general come across as having the fighting instinct of sheep. I don’t. I was raised to believe that you don’t retreat when you’re on solid ground; so even though it often seems like I’m armed with just a few stones and a sling against a media giant, I’ll use those small resources to do what I can to set the record straight. The truth is always worth fighting for. Doing so isn’t whining or “playing the victim card”; it’s defending the truth in fairness to those who seek accurate information. I’ll keep attempting to correct misinformation and falsehoods about myself and my record, and I will certainly never shy from defending others who are unfairly attacked. This is in the name of justice.

Ah, yes. Sarah Palin — brave and indefatigable champion of the oppressed! The truth, of course, is that Palin has been caught saying both stupid things and outright false things in the media literally dozens and dozens of times. The first impression she made on the voting public was in two interviews, one with Charles Gibson and one with Kaite Couric, during which she came off as exactly what she is — profoundly ignorant and obstinately proud of being so. And her only recourse is to do what conservatives have done since at least Spiro Agnew — attack the media.

Conservatives have done this for the past four decades and it works quite well for them. It acts as a vaccination, giving them an automatic response whenever the media reports something they don’t like and inoculating their followers against actually believing it. It doesn’t matter whether the reports are true or not, their followers will automatically dismiss it because they’ve been inundated with “don’t believe the media” for their entire lives.

The spin that Palin puts on this tried and true strategy is in striking the populist martyr pose — she alone has the courage to stand up to the media juggernaut! Andrew Sullivan scoffs:

Palin has a home-studio and salary from the biggest cable news network; her books have been published, without any fact-checking, by Harper Collins, one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. TLC gave her a reality show. She is, by now, a multimillionaire, based on barely two years in office and John McCain’s impulsive Googling. She could get booked on CNN or MSNBC or ABC at a moment’s notice. But she is beleaguered and alone against media giants?

None of this is surprising, of course. It’s almost an instinctive reaction on the right. These are the same people, keep in mind, that control nearly every seat in every legislature in the entire country yet convince themselves that they’re under perpetual siege by atheists and humanists — almost none of which actually hold office anywhere — who are on the verge of stamping them. These are people who turn a kind offer of Happy Holidays into proof that they are marginalized in a society they still dominate.