Much of the news surrounding the whirlwind book tour of Sarah Palin has concerned the media itself, and Palin’s open disdain for it. Press coverage that gathers large crowds at book signings and speeches, apparently, is good. Press coverage that takes issue with any aspect of what Palin says or does at those book signings and speeches, apparently, is bad.
For instance, some members of the press took issue with the seeming contradiction between Palin’s use of a private jet as transportation between book signings and speeches, and the grass roots image she’s wanting to perpetuate by rolling into each of her public appearances on a bus. Palin interpreted that as a personal attack, and used her own new media outlet – her Facebook account – to counterattack, berating the media for raising the question at all. “The media showed the same out-of-proportion obsession with my personal arrangements, clothes, and hairstyles last year instead of focusing on the crucial issues involving the election,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page before poking a specific barb at CBS and “whatever professional integrity it still has.”
While Palin believes that media attention should be restricted to “crucial issues,” she didn’t hold her own memoir, “Going Rogue” to the same high standard. In this literary communication which was under her own control, Palin used approximately 100 pages, or nearly 25%, of the “Going Rogue” memoir not to address those “crucial issues,” but rather to air grievances she harbors against the McCain campaign team in particular and, of course, the media in general.
Seemingly from Palin’s perspective, when media coverage of her patriotism and family values is reported, the media has integrity. But when media coverage questions the disparity between her public image and her private actions, the media is unfair and obsessed. Palin is hardly the first celebrity to curse the source of their fame, while enjoying all the positive benefits of it at the same time. Reportedly Palin has seven million reasons to be grateful that anyone with press credentials ever got obsessed enough to make her a household name.
“We’re seeing this argument take shape where anyone who’s critical of Sarah Palin is portrayed as launching unfair personal attacks on her,” said Betsy Reed, co-editor of the Palin counter-memoir, “Going Rouge.” “It’s really important to tell the other side of her story… and not to fall prey to the Sarah Palin branding machine,” said Richard Kim, the other co-editor in a recent interview with the online political publication, “TruthOut.”
The Kim-Reed book about Sarah Palin is actually a collection of essays that was gathered as a biographical anthology, and released in book form on the same day as Palin’s own memoir. This counter-memoir, “Going Rouge,” initially gained attention due to the similarity of the titles and the satire of the book’s cover. The “Rogue” cover depicts Palin as a patriotic dream in front of blue skies, while the “Rouge” cover depicts Palin as an American nightmare in front of stormy skies.
“Although the cover has an element of satire, the book is not a parody. Our goal was to present a serious appraisal of Sarah Palin’s record and an assessment of her role in American politics,” Reed told “TruthOut.”
“She is a very well-packaged celebrity at this point, so we felt it was important to show her beneath the gloss,” said Reed.
“Going Rouge” has also been receiving major mass media coverage along with “Going Rogue” not just because of the media’s mistakes with talking about one book while showing the cover of the other, but also because it is the nature of free speech to find and express opposing views. For every point there is a counterpoint, and reporting the yeah-but side of any story is a pretty big part of the whole free speech paradigm.
No matter how diverse their politics, most American citizens can find common ground in the First Amendment. Despite individual opinions, there is a fundamental acknowledgement that the whole truth is not really found in any left-wing blog, right-wing television network, self-promoting Facebook page, carefully crafted memoir, or cleverly edited counter-memoir. The truth, most Americans agree, is found in the silent spaces between the noise of those who are arguing the loudest with each other to defend their own position.
As long as there is still is a right to free speech in the U.S., it is safe to say there will be a tabloid story for every celebrity, a negative news report for every politician, and a “Going Rouge” for every “Going Rogue.” And as long as there is a desire for the expansive existence that the uninhibited search for truth affords, the world has a need for them all.