News & Politics

3 Times the Media Treated Sarah Palin as a Non-Person

Sarah Palin after endorsing Trump (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Sarah Palin should have a thick skin like any politician turned reality show star and Donald Trump shill.

It’s a rugged business, being a nationally recognized figure. The slings and arrows from pundits alone can drive someone to distraction.

Palin endures more than the usual slate of attacks.

This week, the press treated her as hardly worth defending against a violent, crude sexual assault comment. It’s one of three times the press essentially dubbed her not worthy of a defense any person rightly deserves. Here’s a brief history, along with the most recent attack:

1. Bill Maher Mocks Palin’s Special Needs Child

The host of “Real Time with Bill Maher” rarely pulls his punches. And that’s one reason why audiences keep watching Maher’s HBO show. The host wouldn’t gleefully insult the Obamas, though. There’s a level of respect in our culture, and most comedians generally understand that. Have you ever heard a stand-up eviscerating President Obama’s daughters? No? Good. The same doesn’t hold true for the Palins. In 2011, Maher blasted the Palins, calling the family “inbred weirdos straight out of ‘The Hills Have Eyes.'” That film featured a family of mutant killers, for those unfamiliar with horror lore. Among those included in Maher’s insult — Palin’s Down syndrome child Trig Palin. Did the media rally around the Palins against the vicious smear? No. For what it’s worth, Down syndrome advocates were mostly silent, too. Some conservative media outlets covered Maher’s rant. The mainstream press more or less stayed silent.

2. CNN Delights in Palin Family’s Grief

When a member of Palin’s family is in harm’s way, reporters don’t always react as any decent person might. Instead, it’s a source of ridicule. Consider CNN’s Carol Costello and her 2014 report involving the governor’s daughter, Bristol Palin. The audio in question found Bristol Palin describing how she was knocked down several times and dragged across the ground after she tried to defend her sister, Willow Palin. Ugly stuff. Not for Costello. The CNN anchor described the audio as, “quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across, come across in a long time anyway … sit back and enjoy.” If you don’t remember any major press outrage following Costello’s comments, your memory is working quite well. Costello did apologize, but the press quickly moved on from the incident.

3. The Washington Post Diminishes Rapper’s Palin Slam

Rapper Azealia Banks is known for her unexpurgated rants. So perhaps it wasn’t shocking that this week she said Palin deserved to be gang raped by people of color on social media after reading a fake story about Palin’s views on slavery. It was about as ugly as any public comment could be all the same. The entertainment press either ignored the story or downplayed it. But the most egregious response came from the Washington Post. Its article tackling the subject called both Banks and Palin “provocateurs” in order to make their public personas more equal. The paper then mocked some conservative outlets for covering the comments in the first place.

Palin’s descent from a popular governor who challenged her own party to a Trump acolyte prone to incoherent speeches is sad. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve the same decency as any other public figure. It just isn’t always afforded her, though.