By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Thoughts on media rumor-mongering (II)

You may have already heard this, but Sarah Palin has made public the fact that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. Bristol Palin will marry the father, according to CNN.

The report also says that John McCain knew about the pregnancy before choosing Palin as his running mate, and that the decision was made to announce it now because of Internet rumors that Bristol, not Sarah, is the mother of four-month-old Trig.

And that, I hope, is the end of that.

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  1. liamstliam

    She just sacrificed her daughter on the altar of her candidacy.I cannot imagine her as the president.And, since they are lying about other things (she will be at the State Fair), how do we know she’s really five months pregnant.I do not believe it, nor do I want to, but the Edwards thing has shaken me pretty badly.Oh, and any Republican who complains out this, I would send to the Internet to look up “swiftboating.”I have no idea why I am reacting this way.

  2. Sean Roche

    And that, I hope, is the end of that.You’re kidding, right? The Palins decide to thrust their family into the national limelight while their unmarried teenage daughter is pregnant. The Palins and McCain frame her decision to carry the baby to term as a matter of her choice, while campaigning on a platform that would deny such a choice to all women, possibly the most important plank in the platform (at least to their base). The campaign was “forced” to reveal this immensely non-trivial bit of news (and blunt much of the initially positive reception to Palin’s selection) because of the liberal blogosphere. (What, did they think they were going to be able to hide Bristol for the next three months? Did they have a plan for controlling the disclosure? Did they expect that they would be able to control the disclosure?) The revelation further highlights how little thought or research went into McCain’s decision to select Palin.We’re not close to the “end of that,” nor should we be. Bristol Palin deserves privacy, but her parents and John McCain deserve to have the implications of their actions thoroughly discussed.

  3. Dunwich

    It may be the “end of that,” but did McCain know last week? If he didn’t, the vetting process was incomplete. Impulsive McCain fails a rather fundamental early test.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Sean and Dunwich: Trust me, we’ve got much better stuff to chew over than the Palins’ unfortunate teenage daughter. Please see my latest:

  5. Aaron Read

    Ordinarily the family of candidates are, mostly, off-limits during a race. Remember how some folks tried to go after Chelsea and found limited traction, much like how there was a brief flareup of those drunken tarts Jenna and Barbara that quickly died down.The latter is especially relevant because you had a presidential candidate making “family values” a major (if somewhat quiet) part of his platform. Strange given his past cocaine use (he did, you know he did it, that’s why he never admitted it…Bush may be an idiot but he was smart enough to learn from Clinton’s mistakes) but nevertheless it was excellent pandering to the religious right.Palin is a very similar situation; you’ve got a candidate who is all but screaming about how she’s got the “family values” that McCain lacks and here she is, having a slut of a daughter who’s living in sin and having a bastard child (in the literal sense).That is an intentionally harsh description for two reasons.First, it’s because you know damn well the religious right would say the same about Obama’s daughters were one of them revealed to be 17, unmarried, and pregnant.Second, it demonstrates Palin’s hypocrisy, and her poor judgment. Not so much poor judgment in her parenting skills (that’s another debate) but rather that she would choose to make “family values” a platform to stand on when she’s got a KNOWN issue that largely undercuts it.Unfortunately, despite this rather scathing demonstration of Palin’s lack of character, I can promise you that this issue will not have any traction. Palin’s hypocrisy is the kind the far right thrives on, and the moderates will only see a mother struggling to raise a wayward child; something many people will relate to and sympathize with. Nobody from the Republicans or Independents is going to take this issue and run with it.The only way this really hurts McCain/Palin is if the left goes on the all-out attack for the duration; screaming about this so much that it drowns out most everything else. This is a risky strategy. Obama’s best strategy is still to paint McCain as “Bush Term Number 3” and painting Palin as a hypocrite doesn’t further that message. Also, Obama has put himself “on the high road” before and during this fooferah and if his supporters attack with the ferocity required to have an impact (with this particular issue) then it will almost certainly sully Obama’s reputation and hurt his chances with independents.I do agree that this reflects badly on McCain’s first big decision (the running mate). If, as he claims, he knew about this issue and chose Palin anyways, then either the other potentials must’ve REALLY sucked, or McCain’s own judgment is crap…because this should’ve had red flags all over the place. If McCain is lying and he really didn’t know about this, then his vetting team really screwed up, too. This is a kind of obvious sort of thing, you know? But it’s not so disastrous that it won’t be gone from the media within a week (unless McCain is dumb enough to force her out, thus guaranteeing that everyone will think his judgment is terrible and he’s always going to second-guess himself). To be honest, I think having Bush and Cheney speak at the RNC would’ve been a bigger disaster than Bristol’s pregnancy. I’m sure many in the McCain camp are secretly VERY glad that Gustav happened.

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