by Patrick Appel
Douthat expands on his critique:
[Palin's negative are] why there’s more Palin coverage in publications like TPM, MSNBC and Vanity Fair (not to mention, of course, a certain Palin-obsessed Atlantic blogger) than in many conservative outlets: Not because they’re the only places willing to tell the truth about her, but because they’ve built an audience that believes the worst about her, and enjoys wallowing in the fear and loathing she inspires.
To be clear: My point isn’t that Palin isn’t a significant political figure, or that she doesn’t inspire ardent devotion from many conservative Americans, or that she doesn’t deserve a significant level of press attention: She is, and does, and does. But the most egregious, obsessive and pointless Palin coverage (of the sort we saw in the wake of the Tucson shootings) has less to do with responding to the scope of her appeal, and more to do with pandering to the millions of Americans for whom she’s become a hate figure, and who are always eager to be confirmed in that hatred.
The Dish doesn't hate Palin. But she is the first reality TV presidential candidate - which makes her hard to ignore. Jim Newell compares Palin to Coulter:
You can't make Sarah Palin into an Ann Coulter, who doesn't get as much attention as she used to. Because Palin, unlike Coulter, was nominated for vice president of the United States in the last election! This is why so many people write and talk about her with amazement over every little thing. The coverage goes over the top sometimes, sure. But it's stunning that a person who got that close to the number-two position in a presidential administration speaks and acts the way that she does—and now she's one of the top Republican candidates for president in 2012!
In contrast to Coulter, Palin's gaffes, mannerisms, and personal life get more attention than her policies. The press Palin attracts mirrors celebrity journalism - which is why much Palin coverage often borders on the pointless and irreverent. Journalists report on Palin's every verbal disjuncture the way they report on Paris Hilton's latest bender because Palin's and Snooki's magnetism is of the same origin. Palin is a fundamentally unserious candidate - so the media treats her as such. But she is different than any other reality show celebrity because her actions have serious consequences - as Amy Davidson makes clear:
Her position is serious, even if she is not. She has a good chance of shaping (or deforming) if not winning the fight for the Republican nomination. That’s the nomination for President, of the United States; she may, as Ross Douthat argues in a column that also wishes the whole Palin thing would stop, no longer be the front-runner, but she’s certainly in the mix. Is the month of February also supposed to be a month of not talking about the Republican Party, or only talking about it in a forced or artificial way?