Perceived Media Bias
Former New York City Democratic mayor Ed Koch - an Obama supporter - nevertheless commented on this lack of respect shown to Governor Palin in an op-ed for Real Clear Politics, stating:
Sarah Palin is...plucky and, in a winsome way, in your face...I admire [her] spunkiness and feel she has not been treated fairly by the media which has tried to make her look foolish and provincial....In fact, it is Sarah Palin's lack of decorum, her rabble-rousing at several raucous rallies that had even the McCain campaign worried, and her seeming need to draw attention to herself that appalls both women and men. And her Saturday Night Live appearance served no one but herself. It didn't show us a woman who is passionate about leadership and governance. It showed us a woman who is passionate about being famous and grabbing as much media face time as she can cram into her fifteen minutes of fame.
The media howled and conveyed to the public that on the basis of the [Gibson and Couric] interviews, Palin was not qualified to be vice president because she might succeed to the presidency. I thought the media presenting that point of view was simply wrong and biased....
Interestingly, highly intelligent women friends of mine who support Barack Obama, as I do, were horrified when I told them of my views....They believe McCain disgraced himself by choosing her and that she is not worthy to hold the vice presidency. I agree that Joe Biden is a far worthier and more qualified candidate. But I also believe it is Palin's conservative positions that appall many people than anything else.
Siren Song of Pop Culture
Politicians have been wary of appearing on non-political entertainment-based television programs ever since presidential candidate Richard Nixon agreed to appear on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In in 1968 and his opponent, Hubert Humprey, declined. (Humphrey later acknowledged he made a mistake, as Nixon went on to win the White House later that year.) Governor Bill Clinton gained a great deal of attention after appearing on the Arsenio Hall Show and playing his saxophone - a move that many feel turned his presidential campaign around and led to his election in 1992.
The siren song of pop culture and the lure of TV talk shows is tempting for any candidate. But it can backfire, as Palin's running mate John McCain realized when he cancelled an appearance on the David Letterman Show. And with Palin's appearance sandwiched between sketches of grown men calling each other "fartface" and doing inappropriate things with a ping pong ball, the wisdom of her participation is further called into question.
Even the woman who parodies her, Emmy-award winner Tina Fey, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as having said this about Palin: "If she wins, I’m done. I can’t do that for four years. And by 'I'm done,' I mean I'm leaving Earth."
Should Have Said "Thanks, But No Thanks"
Looking at the larger picture, Palin's decision to come on Saturday Night Live was problematic on many levels. Her appearance did not enhance her image; it did not engender respect for the role of President of the United States; it promoted a sexist portrayal of her as 'hot'; and it seemed like one more bad decision of the McCain campaign coming on the heels of his 'Joe the Plumber' misstep at the final presidential debate.
So why did she do it? Perhaps this small anecdote from Newsday explains why:
During an interview with WWOR/9's Brenda Blackmon yesterday, Palin said of her appearance, "We need more of these days. When it is just fun, I would do it again."Governor Sarah Palin may have been talking about her time spent on Saturday Night Live, but her comments could just as easily have referenced her vice presidential campaign. Despite all her gaffes and mistakes, Palin - with her husband Todd and five children in tow - appears to have had a lot of fun in her ten-week stint as America's Pit Bull With Lipstick. Whether or not the Republican Party and die-hard supporters will allow her to 'do it again' in the 2012 race is another matter.