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

Palin calls freedom of press a “privilege”

All right, I am assuming far more coherence and meaning in Sarah Palin’s ramblingly incoherent interview with Fox’s Carl Cameron than is warranted. But I do want to call your attention to this amazing passage, flagged by Jake Tapper of ABC News:

As we send our young men and women overseas in a war zone to fight for democracy and freedoms, including freedom of the press, we’ve really got to have a mutually beneficial relationship here with those fighting the freedom of the press, and then the press, though not taking advantage and exploiting a situation, perhaps they would want to capture and abuse the privilege. We just want truth, we want fairness, we want balance.

To which I say: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Thanks to Media Nation reader MTS, who found it on Daily Kos.

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Four J’s


  1. MeTheSheeple

    Found it on Fark, actually, but yeah.It’s much more parsable if you insert a “for” in there — e.g., “those fighting FOR the freedom of the press”There’s a comment on Fark that sums up perfectly my feelings on the situation. Either she’s arguing the government should regulate the press when it’s not fair or patriotic or some such in wartime, or she doesn’t understand that freedom of the press is a right instead of a privilege, or BOTH.And remember, this is a person who, on her fifth try in college, walked away with a journalism degree.A person who could be one heartbeat away from the presidency. A presidency how held by a guy who calls the Constitution a piece of paper. Both of whom want more than anything to defeat a Constitutional law professor.Interesting times, these.

  2. Steve

    We just want truth, we want fairness, we want balance.“So does this mean Gov. Palin is in favor of the fairness doctrine for broadcast media? Wouldn’t that make her the only Republican to support it?

  3. MeTheSheeple

    I want truth, fairness and balance: Those aren’t bad goals, though sometimes nebulous and arguably unachievable.I’m thinking she’s pushing more for the Alien and Sedition Acts, which worries me much more.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    MTS: Her words lend themselves to I want truth, fairness and balance … or else.

  5. Ani

    Maybe Palin would like to see states legislate against those First Amendment rights and then shield those laws from Supreme Court review, too.

  6. Tunder

    I think that we are giving Palin far too much credit for even knowing what the hell she was talking about in terms of the press and the constitution.When she gets her next set of talking points maybe she’ll attempt to clarify.

  7. mike_b1

    Considering that Dan Quayle at least has a law degree (albeit from a fly by night college), it is highly possible the vapid Palin is the least intelligent person ever nominated for US vice presidency. That’s saying something.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Personally, I think Palin is extremely intelligent. But she is completely uneducated, and proud of it.

  9. mike_b1

    Extremely intelligent? Like an IQ in the 130s? On what evidence do you come to that conclusion? -She was lousy at school (although she does have a bachelor’s, so I wouldn’t say she’s completely uneducated).-She doesn’t speak well, except when reading the prompter.-She doesn’t think quickly on her feet.-She doesn’t show any curiousity of the world around her.-She doesn’t show any depth in her grasp of facts or issues, including many that directly affect her home state.

  10. Rich

    Funny how we don’t get even the smallest squeak from Dan about the Messiah threatening to sic the FCC on TV stations who air an NRA ad that the Messiah doesn’t like.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Rich: Please explain to us why Obama shouldn’t take advantage of existing laws and regulations. His campaign has contacted broadcast operations, which are regulated by the FCC. I have a philosophical objection to any regulations that constrain speech, especially political speech. But if the Obama campaign thinks the NRA’s ad violates FCC regulations, I can’t imagine why it would meekly sit on its hands.

  12. Aaron Read

    Sadly, but this is news? The Republican party has been raping the Constitution for no less than the last eight years, and the First Amendment has always been first in line for the buggering.What’s REALLY pathetic is that virtually no media outlet will report on this, despite the direct slap in the media’s face that it is.

  13. Ani

    Palin comes across to me as being more clever than intelligent, at least as I understand what “intelligent” means.

  14. Steve

    I think it’s a serious mistake to characterize or even assume Palin is not intelligent. While she comes across (to me) as monumentally under-prepared in national issues, there’s nothing she’s done that shows her to be unintelligent.(Along the same lines, W’s IQ is said to be 125. But that apparently doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of his competence.)Palin’s cutesy populist act in the debate, for instance, was genius. She wasn’t prepared to “debate”, but her act sure did dazzle the true believers.

  15. Ani

    Steve,She says things that make no sense? If a person is intelligent but underprepared, they will notice when their understanding is inadequate or when what they are stringing together doesn’t make sense. Maybe we need a side-by-side comparison with someone equally underprepared but who knows what they don’t know. Teachers, for example, can distinguish between intelligent filler on an exam question for which the student is unprepared and empty drivel — regardless of whether they give credit for either.

  16. Vox

    I’m with Steve on this point. It’s dangerous to assume she isn’t a sharp person. I think we’re seeing a potentially savvy politician who happens to be way out of her depth right now. But beyond her intelligence or how many colleges she attended to cobble together her degree, what’s really on display is ambition, bald ambition.

  17. Stella

    That she draws so much attention away from the issues is disgraceful.That so many Americans care so little for our nation is painful.

  18. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I would submit that there are some typically New England usages here that make it hard to comunicate effectively.People are saying ‘uneducated’ when they mean ‘nonacademic’.They are saying ‘unintelligent’ when they mean ‘inarticulate’, not glib.They say ‘incurious about the world’ when they mean ‘uninterested in what is a pressing interest in MY world’.And so on.People here have come to expect a cetain ‘shorthand’ of phrases and terms to cue what is thought about an issue or idea. When a person uses different shorthand,from their locale, people here are unable to even try to translate, ro apprehend what that person does mean. Witness a person with a broad Brahim accent mocking the midwst pronunciation of ‘nuclear’ – when they themselves can’t pronounce ‘Pahk’.MOST OF THE NATION does not hold or adhere to Bostonian or Progressive ideas and catchphrases. Yet those from other places are deemed ‘stupid’ for not speaking in our accustomed way.And then they’re surprised when elections are lost and ideas are defeated.As was said about ‘House’, “You could build MONUMENTS to your self-absorbtion!”

  19. Steve

    stella: “That she draws so much attention away from the issues is disgraceful.“It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

  20. mike_b1

    PP: I could care less if Sarah Palin knows about what time my kids need to be picked up from school. But there’s nothing wrong with me expecting her to be an expert on something, be it foreign affairs, economics, infrastructure, environment, technology, etc.She isn’t an expert — or anything close — on anything, and revels in it. That’s embarrassing. To put her a faint heartbeat away from the most important job in the world would be certain disaster.

  21. mike_b1

    Steve, What difference does it make if she “dazzles her true believers?” If they are true believers, it wouldn’t have mattered if she farted on-stage. It’s the rest of the country — and our allies and enemies — that matter here.

  22. Steve

    Mike – I believe her main role is to turn out the base, who weren’t all that keen on McCain in the first place. (I’m not saying it’s working all that well, mind you.)

  23. Dan Kennedy

    PP: The problem with the anti-elitist critique is that we need our top political leaders to understand a wide range of national and international issues. Sarah Palin has never been interested in any of those things. Spin it as hard as you like — that’s not a virtue.I know you, and trust me, you are far better versed on the issues with which a president or a vice president would have to deal than is St. Joan of Six Pack. As I wrote previously, I think she’s plenty intelligent enough. But you can’t get up to speed in a few weeks or a few months.I also wonder whether her nasty populist streak, so expertly analyzed by Peggy Noonan in her column and on “Meet the Press” Sunday, would stand in the way of her learning what she needs to know to be — yes — an educated person competent to deal with these issues.

  24. Ani

    Maybe Palin is the next step in our relentless march toward making everything in our country about celebrity and its cult.

  25. Mike F

    At this point she could say that she eats kittens because they are ghosts of Jesus the terrorist dinosaur, and I would think, ‘hmmm…yup, she probably wouldn’t be a good President.’If I weren’t so susceptible to my own self-destructive need to be annoyed, I would just never think of her again. Unfortunately, when I get annoyed, I don’t suddenly forget everything.

  26. Mike F

    Ani, you might want to read Matt Taibbi’s story on Palin in the current Rolling Stone – it’s right in line with your point.

  27. Ani

    Thank you for the reference, mike f. Makes me wonder when the downward trend(s) are going to stop and things will start going back up.

  28. Don, American

    Please run for vice-president so I can bash you.

  29. Brigid

    PP: As someone who was born and raised in Indiana, I resent your implication that “nucular” is the Midwestern pronunciation of “nuclear.” When I was growing up, the only person I ever heard say it that way was Jimmy Carter—and we made fun of him for that.Talk about New England self-absorption! Sheesh!

  30. Dot Lane

    Exactly brigid. The only oddity I hear from relatives in Iowa is a tendency to say “Warshington”, and that’s simply the result of Boston’s dropped rs traveling through the atmosphere and dropping like acid rain in the Midwest. Palin’s folksy shtick isn’t playing well with them: I talked to my uncle a few days ago and he said all he can think when he hears Palin speak is “ten pounds of sh*t crammed into a five pound bag and when she talks it just spills out”.

  31. Tony

    Wow, Sarah Palin is for the fairness doctrine? What a surprise.

  32. Nial Liszt

    *Maybe Palin is the next step in our relentless march toward making everything in our country about celebrity and its cult.*My nomination for this year’s MN Most Ironic Comment award– PDS category.

  33. LFNeilson

    Nuculer or nukuler? It’s all so unclear! Can Sarah tell me how to get to E=mc Square?zzzzzz

  34. Ani

    nial liszt,”Will the real Celebrity please stand up?”

  35. MeTheSheeple

    The part that scares me the most has nothing to do with fairness, but of kowtowing to the government: “then the press, though not taking advantage and exploiting a situation, perhaps they would want to capture and abuse the privilege.” In the wake of Constitutional-level violations and a war founded on lies, the potential benefits of an unrestrained free press should be obvious to, well, pretty much any invertebrate. We do not need, or want, a media that serves only as “yes men” for the government, but that seems to be what former journalist Palin is suggesting.There are, unfortunately, historical precedents. One guy was jailed when elected to Congress, jailed on charges of saying a war was a mistake. Is that -really- something we want?Should we be talking about spreading freedom abroad while further eliminating it here?

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  37. gherkin

    Guys, I think you are getting your feathers ruffled over nothing and are imposing what you think she thinks into this quote. I say this NOT because I support Palin, I don’t, but because I read that quote numerous times and I am fairly certain that it is not english. I believe it is perhaps a string of buzz words and phrases randomly selected out of a hat and pieced together by someone whose first language is a dead language, perhaps first spoken by a group of australopithecine.Really, I think you give her too much credit. To assume she thinks freedom of the press is a privilege is too assume that she has really given these matters any thought at all.This is not to say that she is not a threat. Anyone in a position of power that speaks , acts and THEN thinks is dangerous and by all means, for the love of all that is holy vote against her.

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