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November 17, 2009

Palin on Oprah

By Spear's

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, having never watched Oprah before, but I couldn’t resist watching Sarah Palin. I cannot tell a lie: I was impressed.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, having never watched Oprah before, but I couldn’t resist watching Sarah Palin. I cannot tell a lie: I was impressed. Whoever dismissed Sarah Palin as irrelevant (I never did) was mistaken: love her or hate her, the former Alaskan governor is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s clearly learned a lot in her recent term in the school of political hard knocks.

Sarah Palin has a new narrative to go with her new book. Going Rogue: An American Life is released tomorrow in bookstores all over America — hence her appearance on the show of the most powerful woman not just in television, but in book publishing. 


Gone was the woman whose disastrous interviews with Katie Couric were widely considered a big factor in the McCain ticket’s decline in the 2008 election. Referring to those interviews, Palin said on air and in her book that the producers chose to piece together the most embarrassing bits in order to push “a partisan agenda.” Though I don’t doubt that for one second, still the moments are pretty hard to explain away, however hard Palin may spin it. 

Take for instance the nearly-legendary bit where Couric asked Palin what magazines and newspapers she read regularly before being tapped as a vicepresidential candidate. “I have read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media,” Palin prevaricated badly. 

“Which ones?” insisted Couric. 

“All of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.” In the end, Palin couldn’t name a single newspaper or magazine or indeed news source of any kind. 

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Today’s explanation of that episode? Palin was “annoyed” by the question and its insinuation that people in Alaska don’t read, but admits she was wrong to “wear her annoyance on her sleeve like that.” Now that doesn’t make sense, does it? 

But that’s Palin’s strategy: when in doubt, blame it on a conspiracy and act victimized. Hmm…. I know a few people like that in real life; it doesn’t play any better there either; they’re equally annoying.

Though Palin loves to hate the media, two people she thanks in her book are “God and Todd,” her husband. 

The one-who-shall-not-be-mentioned, however, is her erstwhile son-in-law-to-be Levi Johnston, former boyfriend of her daughter Bristol, with whom he has a child. Though trying very hard to be diplomatic, Palin couldn’t resist a few jabs at Johnston’s porn aspirations (he’s just shot a Playgirl centerfold) and his media tour, saying he has been too busy to see his child. But she allowed that Johnston is young and might not understand the consequences of his actions or how he is being manipulated. Then she invited him to Thanksgiving dinner … on national television. Classy.

But then if Palin feels she was done in by the media’s “vast left-wing conspiracy,” she’s the one doing the conspiring now, plotting to win over the American public and make millions in the process. 

The thought and effort she has put into her revamped image was immediately apparent when she stepped onto the stage, long locks tumbling down gently, giving her a softer look than she had during the campaign. She has also clearly had a voice coach, to get that annoying twangy edge off. It came back from time to time, but her accent was distinctly more panamerican: American but from nowhere in particular. 

This could be in preparation for Palin’s rumoured quest for a talk show, a rumour Palin deliberately did not quash on air. Instead she demurely answered: “Oh, Oprah, you’ll always be the Queen!”

Well, “the Queen” obligingly played to Sarah Palin’s strengths: in the ‘Palins at home’ segment, a montage of little bits of Palin’s daily life in Wasilla, Alaska, Palin trotted about in shorts, and the clips of her working out were almost too Playboy for daytime television. 

The Palin-Oprah collaboration may be the most successful media conspiracy Palin’s brain has cooked up yet, only this time around she’s pulling the strings. 

Well, Sarah, you’ve certainly come a long way, baby! And Katie Couric: eat your heart out.

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