She's spent the past two months being pilloried in the press. She lost the election. She turned boatloads of independents against the Republican Party. She's getting shit on by anonymous disgruntled McCain staffers. She's been sent back to Alaska, for God's sakes. Now that we're no longer afraid of her becoming president (anytime soon), is it maybe time to stop piling on Sarah Palin, even for just a few days? We wondered this upon reading the Times' coverage of the ex-candidate's return to Anchorage. Palin's quotes in Saturday's story gave us the uncomfortable feeling that reporter William Yardley spent his afternoon replaying Palin's comments on his tape recorder and gleefully transcribing every hem, haw, and hesitation. We understand that the woman is not exactly George Plimpton, but c'mon, this is ridiculous.
We're not saying that Yardley did anything wrong; after all, the Times' official reporting guidelines explain, "The Times does not 'clean up' quotations." And not clean up Sarah Palin's quotations is exactly what Yardley did:
"There is no clothes audit, except for when the belly of the plane got cleaned out, all the piles of the clothes that they had in there, they wanted me at my house to go through it and box things up and send it."
Blargh! We know the best solution here would be for Sarah Palin to learn how to speak, but couldn't the Times cut her a little slack? It's not like that quote actually conveys that much information. It's our impression, being barely a reporter at all, that even if you typically don't officially clean up quotes, you do try and incorporate them into a story in a way that concisely and clearly makes your point. The only point that run-on, content-free sentence makes is, "Cripes, Sarah Palin is a doofus!" Which is true, but this quote and the rest in this story seem a little bit, well, mean, don't they?
This one actually made us laugh out loud:
“But that’ll be nice to have that chapter closed because, as I said from Day 1, I never have asked for anything. I’m not, I’m not keeping anything either.”
"I'm not, I'm not?" C'mon. Again, Yardley has broken no rule — the Times policy tells reporters they "may judiciously delete false starts," so he can do whatever he wants with that — but he didn't need to run that. The only reason to run that is to give Sarah Palin a poke.
We recognize that Sarah Palin is legitimately so inarticulate that it is difficult to quote her without highlighting that fact. But still. It sort of made us feel bad for Sarah Palin, which made us mad at the Times, because we don't want to feel bad for Sarah Palin. Also, we liked it when she called the Africa/NAFTA leakers "jerks." You know what? They are jerks.
Palin Calls Criticism by McCain Aides ‘Cruel and Mean-Spirited’ [NYT]