Anyone who knows me or who has read my posts for any length of time knows I’m a fan of Sarah Palin. A big fan. I like her politics, I like her outlook, I like her record, and I think she has the makings of a good president.
Which makes this news both disturbing and disappointing:
What happened was that Alex Pappas of The Daily Caller, one of the rising stars among political scribes and a meticulously careful and wonderfully polite, fair-minded young man (an aside: I’ve known him since he was in junior high school), wrote a perfectly fine story about Palin’s current stances vis-a-vis the presidential race. In it, one of the things she said was that if Mitt Romney is the nominee, well, of course she would endorse him over Barack Obama.
Fox Nation picked up the story and, in its own headline (not Pappas’, not the Daily Caller’s, but its own headline completely apart from anything Pappas ever wrote) played up the “Romney endorse” angle in a way that apparently did not make it clear that the endorsement might be in the general election, rather than the primary campaign. (The headline is no longer available at Fox Nation, so I can’t say exactly what the wording was.)
Anyway, the Palin team pounced. Specifically inviting over reporter Kasie Hunt from Politico so she could hear the exchange, Palin called Pappas’ cell phone and began berating him in a very scolding manner for writing a headline suggesting she supports Romney. Pappas didn’t even know what she was talking about. When he tried to say that neither he nor his editors had written such a headline, she said she didn’t have time for this, that she needed to go back to the “real people” at the State Fair, and hung up on him.
Later, when it became clear that Fox Nation, not Pappas or The Daily Caller, had written the semi-offending headline, a Palin press aide called Pappas back not to apologize but to say that they now realized it was Fox and that the headline had been taken down. “No,” Pappas said, far more bemused than angry or upset, “he didn’t come close to apologizing.”
Be sure to read the whole thing.
Let’s set some context here. The article’s author, Quinn Hillyer, is a solid conservative. American Spectator is an old-line conservative magazine. Both Hillyer and the magazine have defended Sarah Palin in the past. And, while The Daily Caller tends toward the tabloid style, it’s well to the Right, too.
This was not a Lefty hit-job.
What jumps out at me is not that the former Alaska governor blew her stack at a reporter. We know how miserably she’s been treated by the press and, well, everyone can have a bad moment. (Even I’ve been known to have one from time to time. Ahem…) That I can write off. In this modern age of flip cams and 24-by-7 coverage, every politician will at some time or another reveal their warts.
No, I’m bothered by two other items: first, that Mrs. Palin apparently called over another journalist to witness her reaming of Pappas — what was the point? It reeks of pettiness and unprofessionalism. She is a serious contender for President of the United States. This kind of “Watch me burn this guy” behavior should be beneath any candidate.
Second, once it became clear that Pappas and The Daily Caller were not at fault, Governor Palin owed him a personal call to apologize. Not a non-apology call from an aide.
Not only is that simple courtesy and the decent thing to do, but it’s smart politics. Once you, a contender for high office, have been shown to be wrong, admit it, apologize, and defuse the issue immediately. In the process you show yourself to be a good person and you disarm your opponents’ talking points. To do what Sarah Palin is accused of doing, however, is to compound boorish, childish behavior with poor political judgement.
In a candidate with ambitions for high office, that’s a bad combination.
Again, that’s if this is true. I say “if” because we all know the dangers of first reports and how there can be many wildly different viewpoints regarding the same set of facts. (Ever see Rashomon?) And it just doesn’t sound like Sarah Palin, for several reasons. But here we have witnesses, and I suspect what was reported is at least close to what happened.
And if that’s the case, then Sarah Palin owes Mr. Pappas a sincere apology.
PS: In case you’re wondering, no, this does not change my support for her. Not by itself, at least. However, it does go into the “Hmmm… File” as something that bears watching for signs of a trend.
PPS: I won’t at all be surprised to be fired at by both Palin-haters shouting “SEE? WE TOLD YOU SO!!!” and Palin-bots who go into attack-badger mode at even the least criticism. To the latter I suggest looking at my prior posts to see what kind of a supporter I’ve been.
PPPS: Rick Perry also had a serious unforced error moment in Iowa. Like I said, it’s going to happen to every candidate. Perhaps both should blame the deep-fried butter on a stick.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)