- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bashing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is sport for many journalists, particularly those who are perhaps bored by the summer doldrums.

“She is by far the best-looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics, the first indisputably fertile female to dare to dance with the big dogs,” writes Todd Purdum in the August issue of Vanity Fair.

He coins the term “polar disorder,” concluding that Mrs. Palin is surrounded by “clouds of tabloid conflict and controversy” and “has disappointed many of those who once had the highest hopes for her.”

Yeah, yeah. Enough already. Mrs. Palin is not running for anything, she’s been off the campaign trail for eight months and has been home managing the affairs of the 49th state.

“Purdum pulls down the black ski mask and whips out the sawed-off shotgun for this utterly predictable hit piece on Sarah Palin,” says Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics.

“To be clear, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the elitist mainstream media’s contract-killer journalism against political figures with whom they disagree — which, more often than not means conservatives. Purdum’s piece is an absolute classic of the genre, complete with a slew of juicy, negative quotes from insiders and a smoothly crafted narrative that demeans and diminishes Palin’s accomplishments and portrays her as an ignorant white trash whack job,” he adds.

Mr. Bevan is perplexed why Mr. Purdum and his magazine continue to display an “insatiable desire to destroy Sarah Palin.” But things don’t always work out as planned, he cautions. All this bashing could backfire.

“There’s the very real possibility that this kind of piling on Palin by the elitist MSM will actually improve her image outside the New York-D.C. corridor and make people in flyover country like her more, not less,” Mr. Bevan observes.

Hmm. Yes, indeed. Perhaps Vanity Fair should rethink its strategy. Put Mrs. Palin on the cover. Hire Annie Liebovitz to shoot the portrait. And add a snappy headline, like “Sarah Palin: Survivor.”

The big O

And speaking of journalists behaving badly, even academics have had it with the press and the chaos of 24/7 news media. Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism and mass communications at New York University who is also a journalism fellow at Harvard, is one of the very weary.

“This is a call for a major reworking of journalism — of its purposes and its structures. Quality journalism should be defined not by the ability to bear witness, to pursue facts, to array the five W’s, but by the ability to write stories that are interpretive, informed, intelligent, interesting and insightful. This list of goals should also include a word beginning with another letter: original,” Mr. Stephens says.

“Achieving the five ‘I’s and an ‘O’ will require more of journalists — more education in a subject, probably, more study, more thoughtfulness, fresher thinking. It will require the ambition not to recount, not only to uncover, but to explain, illuminate and enlighten.”

Days of yore

A dubious anniversary, perhaps. But maybe not. Besides, it’s a slow history day today.

On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit in Paris, modeled by 19-year-old showgirl Micheline Bernardini.

Anticipating a press uproar, the media savvy Mr. Reard used a cloth printed like newspaper to craft the suit dubbed the “bikini” — a name inspired by a news-making moment that very week. The U.S. exploded a big fat nuke off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.

And in unrelated news (certainly doesn’t seem like two decades have passed …):

On this day exactly 20 years ago, Former U.S. National Security Council aide Oliver North received a $150,000 fine and a suspended prison term for his part in the Iran-Contra affair. His conviction was later overturned.

Quotes of note

“Independence Day is the perfect time to recognize the contributions our industry makes to the national economy.” — Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute.

“Russians believe in eternal youth, teleportation and time machine.” — headline in Pravda.

“FLOTUS always politics more than POTUS.” — President Obama on Michelle Obama.

“No, you move too slow.” — Mrs. Obama’s reply to her husband.

A grill a minute

For those who pine to barbecue without fuss, this politically correct, 100 percent Recyclable Instant EZ Grill comes with foil pan, stand, grill grate, charcoal — composed of all “green” materials. You just light the thing with a match. And then — oh, joy — throw it away without guilt.

The EZ Grill comes in regular and party sizes for $5 and $10, respectively; it is available at Winn-Dixie stores and through www.ezgrill.com.

By the numbers

82 percent of Americans would remain in the U.S., given a choice of anywhere in the world.

11 percent would not stay here, 7 percent are unsure.

54 percent agree that the U.S. is “a nation with liberty and justice for all.”

40 percent disagree, 6 percent are not sure.

56 percent say life has changed in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks “for the worse.”

24 percent say it has gotten better.

11 percent say it has not changed, 9 percent are not sure.

Source: A Rasmussen Report survey of 1,000 adults conducted June 26 and 27.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085. Follow her at Twitter.com/harper bulletin.

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