In her forthcoming memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin writes, "I don't like to hear people complain," before stating one "complaint for the record" about the national media. However, Palin's professed distaste for "complaints" is undercut by the numerous complaints that fill the pages of Going Rogue -- complaints directed at specific media personalities, national and local media outlets, and the McCain campaign.
Palin: "I don't like to hear people complain"
On Page 348 of Going Rogue, Palin writes:
Every action we took -- or didn't take -- was fodder for the national media. It was a pathetic and chilling thing to watch because I knew we weren't the first this had happened to, and won't be the last -- until Americans say enough.
I don't like to hear people complain; I am always the first to say, "Buck up or stay in the truck." You have a choice about how to react to circumstances. But I will state this complaint for the record: what used to be called "mainstream" national media are, in many respects, worthless as a source of factual information anymore. The sin of omission glares in their reporting. Perhaps national press outlets just don't have the resources anymore to devote to balanced coverage. Perhaps they've all just given up on themselves, so we've given up on them, too, except to treat their shoddy reporting like a car crash -- sometimes you just have to look.
Complaints abound in Going Rogue
Complaints about Katie Couric. Palin devoted several pages to her September 2008 interviews with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, frequently complaining about Couric's interviewing style.
From Page 274:
Though Katie edited out substantive answers, she dutifully kept in the moments where I wore my annoyance on my sleeve. For instance, when she asked me how living in Alaska informed my foreign policy experience, I began by trying to frame the geographical context. Lower 48ers grow up seeing our state tucked with Hawaii in a little square off the coast of Mexico on the nightly news weather map. So I began by trying to squeeze a geographical primer into a ten-second sound bite, explaining that only a narrow maritime border separates Alaska from Russia, that we're very near the Pacific Rim countries, and that we're bordered by Canada.
From Page 275:
But Katie wasn't interested in discussing these issues. And when I did, she didn't air them. Instead, when I tried to describe frequent Russian incursions by figuratively referring to Vladimir Putin entering our airspace, CBS researched the Russian leader's actual flight plan over the United States and called my statement inaccurate. And when I referenced Alaska's narrow maritime border to describe our proximity to other nations, CBS reported that the Coast Guard monitored the border and not the governor.
But Katie's purpose -- shared by most media types -- seemed to be to frame a "gotcha" moment. And it worked. Instead of my scoring points for John McCain, I knew that I had let the team down.
From Page 277:
On the bus, the topic turned to social issues. Katie asked me if I thought it was possible to "pray away gay" -- to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality through prayer. Hmmm, I thought. Odd question. I don't think she really wanted to hear my answer because she interrupted me five times as I tried to give it. The badgering had begun. This is really annoying me, I thought. Then she asked me about abortion and the morning-after pill twelve times. Twelve different times.
From Page 278:
Afterward, a staffer noted that Katie had been much more forgiving during an interview with Joe Biden around the same time, not even asking a follow-up question when Biden let loose with a real clunker: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"
Of course, FDR wasn't president in 1929 and television had barely been invented. There were no White House broadcasts in those days. But Katie never pointed out these glaring historical errors. Instead, the sound bite aired as a factual statement and was used to denounce Bush's handling of the economy.
Complaints about McCain campaign. Palin wrote at length about the McCain campaign, complaining that the campaign lacked direction, that the campaign didn't support her, and that the senior staff didn't follow her advice.
From Pages 281-282:
During debate prep, I had been given stacks of five-by-eight index cards, bound in rubber bands, and we lugged them around everywhere. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to type them up, which I appreciated, but it was funny because on one side of each card, there was a question and on the other side there were a whole bunch of what most people would consider nonanswers:
The bottom line was that these were political answers -- and I couldn't force myself to play it safe and sound like a politician. On top of that, there were probably ten cards for a single topic with a different set on nonanswers on every one. So in the end I'm thinking, Okay, which nonanswer do you want me to give?
From Page 298:
But soon we heard that back at headquarters, it was a big deal. The word came hurtling down that I had been "off script" with Cameron. Of course, it's pretty easy to issue candid, off-script messages when there is no script to begin with. It wasn't the end of the world, though, and I hoped headquarters would forgive me and move on.
They didn't. One or more McCain senior staffers would later anonymously tell reporters that I was "going rogue."
From Page 307:
I did not apologize for calling it like I saw it and wondered out loud why I was prohibited from calling the other ticket out on more of its strange associations. I was told not to discuss Obama's pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright. I will forever question the campaign for prohibiting discussion of such associations. All the more since these telltale signs of Obama's views, carefully concealed with centrist campaign-speak, have now been brought into the light by his appointments and actions in office.
From Page 317:
Word quickly came back from headquarters that I'd done it again-I'd gone rogue. What I had actually done was speak up to defend my ethics and my family, but still, the hammer came down.
Now, my friends and family sure knew the truth about the clothes. And the campaign folks, especially those who had vetted and chosen me, also knew the truth. But as the story grew legs, they didn't lift a finger to correct the record. I couldn't understand why until I realized that by the end of the campaign, the wardrobe fairy tale had become convenient. By then, with Obama soaring and our own ticket in free fall, one or two of the campaign's big dogs were already packing their parachutes.
From Page 319:
It may not be unusual for major-ticket advisers to struggle internally over who calls the shots, or to offer only tepid public support to one half of the ticket or the other, Randy later told me. But it is unheard of for campaign staffers to brazenly throw a candidate under the media bus with sleazy anonymous comments.
Complaints about the media. In addition to her "complaint for the record" about the national media on Page 348, Palin listed several other grievances against specific media outlets.
From Page 345:
Even my previously positive relationship with local media changed. For example, during a routine interview for a story about a Thanksgiving turkey pardoning, our old friends at KTUU set up an odd camera angle to capture turkeys being decapitated behind me as I stood there discussing Alaska's relatively strong financial standing during the current recession. The photographer couldn't post it to the Web fast enough. The video became an instant YouTube hit.
Now, I'd be the first person to tell you where your Thanksgiving meal comes from, but this was a deliberate move to make some noise. My deputy press secretary, Sharon Leighow, was appalled after it aired and called the photographer to ask him why he'd done that. We'd worked with this photog for years and had known him (and the station) to have integrity.
From Pages 345-346:
In February, an Associated Press reporter asked Sharon if our commissioners could attend a press conference with me because it was more convenient for the media to have all of us there at once. I thought it was a great idea. This reporter and her colleagues piled into the room, laden with notebooks and tape recorders.
It worked out very well. I encouraged the commissioners to chime in anytime, and I had three sheets of paper in front of me that gave the most recent data on energy prices and projections that I knew we'd address. Sharon was so pleased with the press conference and thought this AP reporter brilliant for her suggestion -- until we read her story claiming that I had to "rely on [my] commissioners and notes to answer questions."
Sharon read it and shook her head. She knew we'd been set up.
Complaints about ethics investigations. Palin complains about "politics of personal destruction," and lists several examples of what she considered to be illegitimate, partisan attacks on her:
The FOIAs [Freedom of Information Act requests] were fishing expeditions -- just attempts to see what could be seen, then pick it over to see if something, anything, might generate another story. Meanwhile, opponents filed many baseless ethics complaints and lawsuits against me. Combined with the FOIAs, the sheer volume of paperwork and legally required responses brought the business of governing the State of Alaska to a grinding halt. Eventually, it overwhelmed us -- and was obviously meant to.
Andrée wasn't the only complaint filer, just one of the most prolific. As per the conventional left-wing playbook, disgruntled political operatives twisted the ethics reform process that I had championed into a weapon to use against me. They were relentless -- and shameless. I was charged with violating ethics laws for wearing a jacket with the logo of Todd's Iron Dog sponsor. I was charged with accepting "bribes" of chocolates and a kids' hockey stick when I gave a speech at a charity event in Indiana. I was charged with holding a fish in a photo for a state fishing pamphlet. I was served with a complaint filed under the name of a fake British soap opera character. I was charged with conducting an interview with a national media figure in my state office. I was charged with answering reporters' questions in the lobby of my state office the day I returned to work and found a herd of reporters congregated near the doorway to my office. As I tried to make my way through, I stopped to answer questions -- and got slapped with an ethics accusation.
We never imagined our critics would be so unscrupulous as to make a mockery of a serious issue like the ethics act. My state had been rocked by real ethics violations. We had lawmakers taking bribes and going to prison, the former administration's chief of staff pleading guilty to a felony, and oil service executives ready to go to the clink. But now partisan operatives were using the reformed ethics to level charges against me that were as trivial as they were absurd -- charges that were eagerly reported by the press as though they were actual news.
What a bass-ackwards way of doing the people's business.