Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sharks In The Water: Walk The Lady In

"The mainstream media, which has been holding endless symposia here on the future of media in the 21st century, is in danger of missing a central fact of that future: If they appear, once again, as they have in the past, to be people not reporting the battle but engaged in the battle, if they allow themselves to be tagged by that old tag, which so tarnished them in the past, they will do more to imperil their own future than the Internet has.

This is true: fact is king. Information is king. Great reporting is what every honest person wants now, it's the one ironic thing we have less of in journalism than we need. But reporting that carries an agenda, that carries Bubblehead assumptions and puts them forth as obvious truths? Well, some people want that. But if I were doing a business model for broadsheets and broadcast networks I'd say: Fact and data are our product, we're putting everything into reporting, that's what we're selling, interpretation is the reader's job, and think pieces are for the edit page where we put the hardy, blabby hacks.

That was a long way of saying: Dig deep into Sarah Palin, get all you can, talk to everybody, get every vote, every quote, tell us of her career and life, she may be the next vice president. But don't play games. And leave her kid alone, bitch.

***

Final point. Palin's friends should be less immediately worried about what the Obama campaign will do to her than what the McCain campaign will do. This is a woman who's tough enough to work her way up and through, and to say yes to a historic opportunity, but she will know little of, or rather have little experience in, the mischief inherent in national Republican politics. She will be mobbed up in the McCain campaign by people who care first about McCain and second about themselves. (Or, let's be honest, often themselves first and then McCain.) Palin will never be higher than number three in their daily considerations. They won't have enough interest in protecting her, advancing her, helping her play to her strengths, helping her kick away from danger. And – there is no nice way to say this, even though at this point I shouldn't worry about nice – some of them are that worst sort of aide, dim and insensitive past or present lobbyists with high self-confidence. She'll be a thing to them; they'll see the smile and the chignon and the glasses and think she's Truvi from Steel Magnolias. They'll run right over her, not because they're strong but because they're stupid. The McCain campaign better get straight on this. He should step in, knock heads, scare his own people and get Palin the help and high-level staff all but the most seasoned vice presidential candidates require."
--Peggy Noonan, zeroing in on two important topics - one that's obvious and one that's not so obvious - in the Wall Street Journal.