Yesterday, Vanity Fair released yet another long hatchet job piece about Sarah Palin. But what this piece has generated — well, besides incredulity that a magazine of Vanity Fair’s caliber would run a character assassination piece almost entirely based on anonymous sources — is a bipartisan backlash. Not against Palin, but against Vanity Fair.
Politico’s Ben Smith has already debunked two of the stories told in the piece. Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, tweeted that she was “annoyed by [Palin] being called to task things normal for any male pol. Like using cute kids as props.” Later, in response to Roger Ebert’s approving tweet, Jeffery sarcastically tweeted back: “Also bumming me out: That @ebertchicago would think Palin profile is ‘devastating.’ Uh, yeah, to journalistic standards.”
Fellow Mother Jones editor Monika Bauerlein was also annoyed, tweeting, “‘Sarah, these aides say, seemed comforted by having the children around, and she seemed lonely when they were gone.’ Truly a monster.”
And, via Ben Smith, former John Edwards aide and feminist/progressive blogger Melissa McEwan wrote:
Gross’ article, however, amounts to very little but “Sarah Palin is the worst because she’s in politics…and is A WOMAN.”
Sure, it’s covert sexism. Gross doesn’t talk about her boobs or use identifiable misogynist epithets to describe her, but it’s sexism nevertheless, as the (frequently dislikable) habits of many major politicians, of both parties, are used to build the case that Palin is remarkably awful. But there is nothing particularly remarkable about a politician who requires family members get permission to grant interviews. Nor about a politician who ambitiously trades favors and ruthlessly gets people fired who cross [him]. Nor about a politician who acts like an entitled a**.
What makes this article the worst thing I’ve read all day is the fact that most of what’s in it is the sort of s*** that is considered (rightly or wrongly) the mundane business of doing politics, and yet is somehow ZOMG SHOCKING when done by Sarah Palin. …
I will continue to defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because I endorse her or her politics, but because that’s how feminism works.
But I’d prefer not to be obliged in the first place.
For those who weren’t satisfied by 10,000-plus word screed against Palin, VF also published an online-only bonus article going over (again!) how much the McCain campaign spent on clothes for the Palin family. But when you’ve got even Meghan McCain — who’s admitted to being “conflicted” over what she thinks about Palin — taking Palin’s side on the wardrobe malfunction, that says something about how way overblown the hysteria is. From Jay Newton-Small, blogging for Time about McCain’s new book:
But McCain also sympathizes with the wardrobe debacle. “That’s what it costs to outfit seven or eight people in designer clothes,” McCain wrote. “Other candidates had spent just as much, or more, but kept those kinds of expenses under wraps – sunk into promotion and advertising costs. What surprised me was that our campaign couldn’t do the same.”
The debate over Palin’s policies and role in the Republican party will no doubt continue. But when you’ve got liberal feminists defending her, it’s clear that the level of vitriol toward her is long past acceptable boundaries.
UPDATE: Over at Slate, blogger David Weigel just posted an e-mail from Shannyn Moore (described by VF as “a green-eyed blonde who, like Palin, was once an Alaska beauty queen, albeit a few stripes more self-aware,”) regretting that she trusted the piece’s writer, Michael Joseph Gross. In the e-mail directed to Gross, Moore wrote that his depiction of her thoughts was “so completely wrong, and put me in such a completely inaccurate and unfavorable light.” She concluded with a harsh reprimand: “Shame on you. You’re not a writer … you’re a climber.”