21

Palin In Nixonland

A perfect fit: the former governor of Alaska and Fox News form a partnership


 

Who saw this one coming:

Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

The network confirmed that Ms. Palin will appear on the network’s programming on a regular basis as part of a multi-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person familiar with the deal said, though she will host an occasional series that will run on the network from time to time.

Though the article says the deal will “give her room for other pursuits,” this decision might make it harder for her to run for President in 2012 — unless, of course, the thinking is that her rapport with Fox News viewers might help her in the primaries.

It’s a perfect signing for Fox, though: they get the person who’s most popular with their core viewership, and someone whose every pronouncement is treated as big news. David Wiegel had a piece on how her Facebook posts are covered: “she is allowed to shape the public debate without actually engaging in it.” Since her semi-regular show will allow her to exist in a sealed-off world just like her Facebook page, it’s a perfect format: she’ll say something, it will be covered endlessly, and the debate will revolve around “did you hear what Sarah Palin said on Fox News?”

She has something else that makes her a perfect fit with Fox: her famous tendency to portray herself as beseiged by “elites,” who hate her for who and what she is. It’s something that has been taken up by her fans, most recently in this article that uses all kinds of dubious Jewish stereotypes to explain “Why Jews Hate Palin.” (In that article you will learn that Jewish women only admire “frumpy” women. Wha’?) This is all very much in the Richard Nixon tradition that Fox has perfected.

The Times had an article on Fox News creator Roger Ailes this weekend, a piece known mostly for its revelation that Rupert Murdoch was considering endorsing Obama (Ailes talked him out of it, and he was probably right from a business standpoint: it would have killed the Fox political brand). But the most important take-away from the piece, and any piece on Ailes, is that his whole worldview has been shaped by days working for Nixon.

Joe McGinniss, who wrote about Mr. Ailes in his 1969 book, “The Selling of the President 1968,” keeps in touch with him. “Success never made that chip on his shoulder go away,” Mr. McGinniss said. “He holds onto what he envisions to be the values of the heartland and is suspicious of people on either coast.”

The odd thing about Nixon is that he is the clear ancestor of the modern conservative movement, even though he wasn’t particularly conservative in the policy sense. His health care plan, which the Democrats foolishly rejected, was way to the left of Obama’s, and indeed Nixon was to the left of every subsequent U.S. President on domestic policy. He didn’t really seem to care much about policy at all. What was important was that chip on his shoulder, his tendency to rail — publicly and privately — against liberal elites. There was some truth in Nixon’s belief that elites looked down on him (no President until Clinton received such scornful coverage from the Beltway insiders, the “village” as they’re called). But he took the belief to extremes, and his followers believed that he had been driven from office for no better reason than spite.

Ailes has taken that idea and turned it into a network. Fox News does support the two post-Nixon pillars of the conservative movement: opposition to taxes and — as Brit Hume just demonstrated — a mixture of Christianity with conservative politics. But a lot of its programming is not about policy at all. It’s about a suspicion of elites and a feeling that the host and his audience are victims of those elites. (Again, Brit Hume is the latest poster boy here: he instantly claimed that the criticism of his Tiger Woods comments was an example of anti-Christian bigotry. The point is that the host/commentator is always the victim.) Sure, it can be silly to watch millionaires in suits portraying themselves as victims of the very elites they schmooze with after the show. But it works. It’s connected, in a way, to the commentators like Chris Matthews and the late Tim Russert, wealthy elites who pretend that they’re still working-class Joes. They’re not, but it suits them to pretend they are.


 
Filed under:

Palin In Nixonland

  1. "…wealthy elites who pretend that they're still working-class Joes. They're not, but it suits them to pretend they are."

    This kind of made me think of Micheal Moore. :P

    If nothing else this will give a little more material to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. You touched on it a little in your post, but I think the worst part of the Fox News era is the way it has tried to (and to some extent, successfully) associated Christianity with the right wing. My view has always been that religion and politics should generally be kept separate.

  2. In that article you will learn that Jewish women only admire “frumpy” women.

    The following preview of Palin's new show suggests that she's going to be trying to address this issue: http://tinyurl.com/yaah92l

  3. Strange that with all her popularity, none of the other networks managed to snatch her up. Perhaps they never made an offer. Go figure.

    Frankly, to say that Fox is about elites and victimization is absurd, because they rose to the top of the ratings during the Bush administration!

    • s c f
      You need to read more carefully.

      • The fact is, Bush has never been considered an elite and was never portrayed as one on Fox, he was always portrayed as a 'down-to-earth' leader who owned a ranch and was not a part of the cocktail circuit.

        • Exactly, which was why Fox shilled for him– he was seen as "one of them." Any criticism of him was seen as treachery coming from the ever-haughty Amerka-hatin' libruls.

        • Yes (of course he is an upper-class educated elite, but it's true that he wasn't portrayed that way), but the point of the coverage was that he was the regular guy under fire from the evil liberal elite. The theme is the same whether the guy in power is one of the good guys (Nixon) or one of the bad elites (Obama).

          • I see, so you are restricting the elite characterization to liberals. Yes, it's true that conservatives have tried to pin this on liberals with individuals like Kerry and Kennedy being residents of Nantucket and millions in their bank accounts.

            At the same time, I don't think that line of attack could have worked at all between McCain (who owns 8 houses or something like that) and Obama. I don't watch enough Fox to know if they tried to use that line against Obama or not during the election campaign.

          • I don't watch enough Fox to know if they tried to use that line against Obama or not during the election campaign.

            They did. He didn't say it on Fox, but Karl Rove called Obama the "the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

            The point about the "elite" charge is that in this context it has nothing to do with money or power or even values per se: liberals are by definition elites and vice-versa. That's what's weird about it, but it seems to resonate.

          • Well, the "elite" attack fits right in with the philosophy of big government and the nanny state, where government officials decide how many MRIs the populace is allowed to get, where you're allowed to send your child to school, and whether the government should spread the wealth from a plumber who runs his own business.

            So it's certainly not coming out of nowhere. It has everything to do with power, not so much with money. The elites of society might include academics and artists who don't have much wealth at all.

            It fits right in with the health care debate, where liberals want to decide what your health insurance provides and how it much it costs. Here in Canada, we get what the government gives us. We have no say in the matter, except once every four years at the ballot box.

            An elite is someone who knows or pretends to know how to run the lives of everybody else.

          • "The point about the "elite" charge is that in this context it has nothing to do with money or power or even values per se: liberals are by definition elites and vice-versa."

            I am populist for most part so maybe I can explain. Elitism is state of mind – not your background or how much money you have. Elites think they know best – the great unwashed need to guidance because we are incapable of looking after ourselves. And people who think they know best tend to be liberals because conservatives don't believe they know what's best for everyone else and think people should look after themselves.

  4. What a twisted world of US media lies must exist for anyone to have ever believed that George Bush is anything but the most elitist of all elites.

    He was the son of a wealthy former CIA director who became president. He had favoured access to expensive schools where his lack of work ethic was tolerated. He received special treatment to avoid military service, while less fortunate people with better work ethics and better academic records were drafted into combat service, and he is pronounced to be a man of the people? Was that while he was golfing at the country club?

    George Bush was so elite he was spared the requirement of competence or experience and was about as much a man of the people as Kim Il Jung's playboy son.

  5. Nixon, I could see as an outsider. He at last came up through the system through his sheer cunning, rather than as the guy picked by his father's team.

  6. You libs are besides yourselves with rage over anything Palin does. Everything is the fault of Palin, Bush, FoxNews, Reagan, Cheney, etc. The Left controls all three branches of American government – both houses, the White House and the Supreme Court. In addition, they have Hollywood and a slobbering state run media who will carry the water for anything they ask. Still, they can't stop blaming Palin. Did SHE give you double digit unemployment? 12 trillion in deficits, record bank failures, record business failures, a failing dollar, two of the big three automakers now run by the government (and still struggling), terrible foreign policy, three terrorist attacks on US soil in the last year, a stimulus bill that cost almost a trillion dollars and has done nothing, a healthcare bill on the horizon being pushed by Democrats who won't allow ANYONE to see it, etc. etc. ?
    No, Palin did none of these things, and while Bush may have opened the door for some of them, it's President B+ and the Democrats who have walked us through.

    • Um, yeah, get back to us when she figures out why there's a North and South Korea.

    • civilguy and DerekPearce can't refute the very reasonable points that uncledan makes in the post, so they opt to sneer instead.
      Such is the pinnacle of debate on the left of the spectrum these days, I fear. And also the depth of their insights.
      Sigh.

      • and you can't point to a single point that is reasonable in uncledan's post. Which point of uncledan's do you particularly find reasonable and logical Ceeger? For a start, the main thrust of uncledan's argument– that Palin isn't responsible for the great recession and the bank/auto bailouts, completely ignores that it all went down on the GOP's watch.

      • more comedy. and I like the way you assume I'm "on the left"

    • ^^^comedy.

  7. You could say that about many presidents and politicians, including Obama – who gets a free ride on his background. Obama's grandmother was a bank vice-president, so Obama wasn't exactly slumming it. He didn't have the grades for Harvard Law (he graduated from Columbia without magna nor summa cum laude. Moreover, he was a transfer student from Occidental, and presumably must have had higher grades there, or else he wouldn't have been able to transfer to Columbia). As a community organizer (which he quit pretty quickly) he was a self-admitted failure. As a lawyer, he tried no cases ever. As a professor, he never published an article, and did what was essentially a part-time job (he was also able to work as a state legislator).

    Obama's accomplishments are that he wrote a good autobiography (despite doing nothing to warrant an autobiography) and that he became president. People don't become president because they are awesome, talented people. They become president because there are a group of people with aims that want to make them president. Sometimes they come from an elite background – like Bush, Bush Sr. or Kennedy (or just a reasonably affluent background like Ford, Obama or Carter). Sometimes they are somebody who has risen by their own talents from humble beginnings – like Nixon and Clinton. Sometimes they are picked because they seem like they will follow orders – like Truman or Reagan. There is perhaps only one person who has become president since 1945 truly on the strength of his own merit and ability – Dwight D. Eisenhower (and if there is a second in that category it is Nixon or Clinton).

  8. it almost looks like she believes she has no chance of being president now ..that's why she is taking this job ….the conservative "elites" like Romney and Huckabee will surely crush her

Sign in to comment.