Palin's Mystery Tour Was Her Love-Letter to the Media

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"It's not about me," Sarah Palin famously said about her mystery bus tour, to the confusion of many who wondered what, exactly, her ride through key campaign stops was about. But the one thing that her tour did reveal, with certitude, was this: Sarah Palin loves the media. And maybe this is just her way of showing it how much she cares. How else could one explain her photo-op on a Harley at the Rolling Thunder rally? It certainly wasn't for the benefit of the other riders, who resented the press. Or her date with the media's other favorite quasi-political figure Donald Trump, at a pizza restaurant in Times Square, no less? It was practically a gift.

CNN's Peter Hamby, who followed Sarah Palin's "One Nation" bus from Washington D.C. to New Hampshire this week, was just one of many who noticed the extent to which Palin has embraced the "lame-stream media" she so often complains about. He recalls that in total, Palin took questions from the media 17 different times over the course of four days. "That's a remarkable number for any national political figure, particularly for one locked into an exclusive television contract that normally precludes her from talking to other media outlets."

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Despite Palin's refusal to inform the media of her itinerary on the tour, Hamby indicates that the reporters chasing Palin were usually able to get a heads up on her next move and arrive prepared at the next stop. Throughout the tour, no question was off the subject:

At stop after stop after stop, she answered questions on everything from energy subsidies to the debt ceiling to her favorite brand of designer jeans.. even her normally reticent husband Todd opened up to reporters about his family's readiness for a potential campaign...And by the time her final event of the week concluded on Thursday morning -- a breakfast with New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte in Portsmouth -- she had given reporters so much access that they ditched Palin and flocked to Ayotte instead, hungry for a fresh angle.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday night, her first since finishing the tour, Palin softened her critique of Mitt Romney, Politico reports. Sure, she once again faulted the media for blowing the story out of proportion, but this time, she did it with humor, understanding, and even press savvy.

“Isn’t that funny what reporters try to do? It’s not a slow news day when Mitt Romney declares his candidacy,” Palin said. “I’m surprised they would take one comment that I made and act like it was a slow news day and try to make it into something bigger than it was.”
A surprisingly toned down analysis from the woman who once charged the press with "blood libel." But is this new affair with the media a sign she is trying to win them over before a bid for 2012, or a a sign that she has accepted herself as one of them? Palin remains cagey, but it appears she is laying groundwork for dropping out of the race. “Not only do I love my freedom of not having a title and being a declared candidate — that is liberating — I know you can make a difference as an individual," Palin said on Fox News. "Hopefully, I can inspire others to know that you don’t need a title. You don’t need to be in office to effect positive change.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.