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Sarah Palin: Could She Run as an Independent or Third Party Candidate?

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Sarah Palin talks a lot about the tea party.

On Fox News last week, she said, “I find inspiration in tea party patriots [and] those with common sense who aren’t playing a lot of games.”

She could be considered the tea party’s godmother. With her Sarah PAC and support for 2010 tea party candidates, Palin has generated a lot of good will, not to mention publicity, for a movement that began only two years ago. She also isn’t afraid to attack popular Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Further proof that Palin isn’t always a GOP team player: She is skipping the first GOP primary debate on May 2 to give a keynote address, “Tribute to the Troops with Sarah Palin,” at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. Some take this as a sure sign, along with her tanking poll numbers in key places like Iowa, that Palin will not seek the White House in 2012.

Could Palin, ever the rogue, be concocting a different plan?

What if Palin is building a grassroots army of patriots to help her undertake this mission? Palin, unlike any failed vice presidential candidate before her, has taken an opportunity and spun it into a gold mine. But to remain relevant in a crowded 2012 field of attention-seeking veteran politicians, Palin may have to make an unconventional move.

Although third-party candidates seldom win in America’s two-party system, they can certainly rain on political parades. At the same time, they can help down-ballot candidates by getting voters to the polls who might otherwise stay at home.

Palin certainly has many of the qualities of a third-party candidate – charismatic and passionate, with a status as an outsider intent on storming the barricades of the establishment.

Consider previous candidates with engaging and controversial personalities who attempted to carve their own path to the Oval Office.

Larger-than-life Theodore Roosevelt ran on his Bull Moose Party ticket in 1912. He won 27.4 percent of the popular vote and carried six states, totaling 88 electoral votes. Roosevelt’s candidacy split the Republican vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.

In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat segregationist, a major draw in Southern states. Former Democratic governor George Wallace of Alabama ran in 1968 on the American Independent Party line. He remains the only third-party candidate since 1948 to win a state.

Ronald Reagan didn’t face just Jimmy Carter. He also had to run against John Anderson, who had run in the crowded Republican primary. When it looked certain that Reagan would win, Anderson jumped to an independent candidacy. He received support from Rockefeller Republicans, author Gore Vidal, television sitcom creator Norman Lear and even the editors of “The New Republic.”

One of the most prominent third-party candidates, perhaps, is Ross Perot. With his charts and nasal voice, he became a household name and the star of many “Saturday Night Live” skits, with Dana Carvey playing Perot. The billionaire Texan threw a wrench into George H.W. Bush’s re-election bid against Bill Clinton. He finished second in two states – Utah, ahead of Clinton, and Maine, ahead of Bush. Perot won 18.9 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes.

He gave it another shot in 1996, but with lesser impact, on the Reform Party ticket. He garnered 8 percent of the popular vote.

Ralph Nader has run four times for president – twice as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000 and twice as an independent, in 2004 and 2008.

For Palin to run as a tea party candidate, it would require money and keen organization. To become a legitimate third party, as opposed to its current status as a movement, the tea party would face a series of steep obstacles it likely could not scale by 2012.

For example, each state has its own ballot-access laws. Some states simply require a filing fee, but others have complex petition-gathering requirements for a party to become established, purposely aimed at keeping third parties off the ballot and protecting the elevated status of the major parties.

And the tea party isn’t showing any effort to become established.

That’s because the Republicans have figured out, for now, how to please the tea party.

“The tea party potentially forming a third-party movement would happen if they become completely disgusted with the Republicans,” said Dr. Jim Broussard, professor of history at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.”That doesn’t seem likely now. Both in Washington and at the state level, most Republicans have figured out what people sent them to do.”

But what if the 2012 Republican nominee, maybe Mitt Romney or outgoing China ambassador Jon Huntsman, isn’t a tea party darling? Palin could emerge as the conservative populist alternative. Her best bet then would be to align with an established third party such as the Reform Party, like Pat Buchanan did in 2000, or run as an independent.

One downside of running as an independent? Absolutely no structure to rely on for support. But Palin already has a built-in voter, and fan, base. She has more than 2.7 million Facebook fans and 439,000 Twitter followers. She raises millions through her PAC, and gets massive media coverage from one tweet. She would likely have no problem covering the filing fees to get on the ballots in various states. Palin could use her social media tentacles to gather signatures on petitions in states that require such.

Politico has reported that she could set up a presidential base in Arizona. That might be the perfect spot to launch an independent bid. The tea party recently held a summit in the state, which Palin did not attend but endorsed. It’s also the state where Barry Goldwater revamped the modern-day conservative movement in the 1960s. Palin, in turn, could revolutionize the status of the independent candidate in Sen. John McCain’s back yard without playing by the Iowa and New Hampshire game.

Matthew Kerbel, professor of political science at Villanova University, said, “Her history suggests she would relish the opportunity to run without having to do the heavy lifting of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she would certainly want her supporters to come to her and demand that she run.”

Then again, Kerbel says, “She may be the first candidate in history to run for president in order to preserve their place as a pop culture figure.”

[Originally published on Politics Daily, March 9, 2011]


Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Sarah Palin’s India Trip: Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela Have Made Same Journey

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The jokes are already flying as Sarah Palin prepares to embark on a trip to India later this month, and more are surely to come. Will she rock a sari? Perhaps guest star in a Bollywood movie? Or bathe in the Ganges for a photo op?

Palin has been invited to give the keynote address, “My Vision of America,” at the two-day India Today conclave in New Delhi, an event hosted annually by the magazine since 2002. The March 18-19 event is sponsored by global business heavyweight Aditya Birla Group, a billion-dollar metals company, along with a bevy of industry co-sponsors.

The news came in late February via her cybermessenger, Rebecca Mansour, who tweeted: “Governor Palin will be travelling to India next month.” Neither Palin nor Mansour has expounded on the details of trip.

Representatives for India Today did not return e-mails about Palin’s trip. India Today is the country’s most diversified media group, with interests in magazines, newspaper, television, radio, Internet, books and music.

It is unclear if she is getting paid to appear, but Palin usually charges upwards of $100,000 for such speaking engagements, according to various news accounts.

Palin has traveled outside the United States only a few times since Sen. John McCain chose her as his running mate in 2008. At that point, she had only traveled to the Middle East to visit U.S. troops. Since then, she has given a speech in Hong Kong and visited Haiti alongside Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.

An article by the magazine on the conclave website states: “Her visit to India has generated immense buzz in U.S. political circles over if she will run for president in 2012. Palin is reportedly shy of traveling abroad but her keynote address at the India Today Conclave 2011 is seen as an attempt to articulate foreign policy where she was found wanting in her 2008 bid for V-P, say some experts.”

New York Sun columnist Pranay Gupte describes the gathering as the “biggest private-sector megaphone in the world’s largest democracy.”

Palin will certainly have plush accommodations and the chance to mingle among international intelligentsia.

The event will be at the Taj Palace Hotel New Delhi, which sits on “six acres of lush greens in the exclusive Diplomatic Enclave of the city,” and is only 10 minutes from the airport, “well equipped, offering simultaneous translation in five languages.”

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will deliver the opening keynote address at the event themed “The Changing Balance of Power.” Other speakers include feminist writer Germaine Greer speaking on a panel titled “Can the Burqa Co-Exist With the Bikini?” and Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who gives a dinner keynote on “The New Middle East.”

For a governor who served only 31 months in office, Palin is in fairly auspicious company.

In the event’s inaugural year, Al Gore spoke, and the next year Bill Clinton appeared. Since then, special guests have included Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Colin Powell, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Afghanistan President H. E. Hamid Karzai, and Hillary Clinton, who spoke when she was senator of New York.

Some Palin critics have said that her trip is a slap in the face to key 2012 states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and her absence from those venues signals that she is not running for president.

“I know, presidential candidates like to travel abroad to boost their foreign policy credentials. And Palin needs those credentials badly,” wrote Andrew Cline, the editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. “But I find it hard to believe that, presumably less than a year from the primary, someone who makes a trip to India a higher priority than a trip to New Hampshire is a serious presidential candidate.”

But hold on, say some political watchers, who argue Palin has time to go to India and still be a powerful 2012 player.

Dr. Lara Brown, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, tells Politics Daily: “The first thing that comes to mind is that she is preparing for a presidential run. Presidential aspirants typically travel internationally before the invisible primary season gets under way.”

Brown notes that Nixon was one of the first to do this after losing his 1960 presidential bid against John F. Kennedy and his 1962 loss to Pat Brown in the California gubernatorial race. He traveled to Europe, Japan and Vietnam where he hosted press conferences and met with leaders.

“Foreign travel gives the candidates a broader perspective on the world and allows them to talk in a more informed way about foreign policy,” Brown said.

While it is unclear whether Palin lobbied for a spot on the conclave ticket or the group reached out to invite her, India is an interesting choice of country for her to visit. The Obama administration has given keen attention to the South Asia republic. The first White House state dinner the Obamas hosted was in honor of the Indian prime minister and they visited India just three months ago.

It’s also a smart trip politically because Indian-Americans have increasing clout in the American political process. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who Palin supported, is the daughter of Indian immigrant parents as is Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, also a Republican.

The Indian American Conservative Council (IACC), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that supports conservative, pro-business values, has praised her visit. “It is only fitting that Palin travel to New Delhi since India is an economic partner with the United States, with both nations benefiting from $50 billion in annual trade, along with mutual cooperation in the global war on terrorism,” IACC chairman Dino Teppara said in a statement.

Palin could use the conclave platform to counter many of Obama’s viewpoints, and she is going into friendly territory. India likes female leaders, such as the powerful Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress, the lead party in India’s coalition. Gandhi is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

India media reports frequently on Palin and her family. A Google search covering the period from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2011, turns up 2.4 million hits pairing Sarah Palin and India, most of them from Indian media. Palin’s trip to India could be just political curiosity on both her part and the country’s movers and shakers. But it could be a diplomatic springboard into the 2012 presidential waters.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated how long Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska. She was governor for 31 months, not 18 months.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:14 am

Posted in 2012 President, Sarah Palin

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Sarah Palin’s Triple Whammy: Chris Christie, Barack Obama and Bill O’Reilly

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In front of an Alaskan backdrop of mountains and a lake, Sarah Palin had a busy, busy night on television Friday. She found time to tweak a fellow Republican, dismiss the president, and scold a top-rated Fox News talk show host.

Palin opened by questioning New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s toughness and attacking President Barack Obama for naivete. After that, she preached about cutting various government programs to Bill O’Reilly before advising him not to interrupt her. All in a night’s work.

On America’s Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman informed Palin that Christie had told Fox Business News that he didn’t see any politician as inspiring. “Do you?” Asman asked Palin.

“Heck yeah, I am so thankful for all these common sense conservative politicians to serve and cut for the right reasons,” she said. “And with all due respect to Governor Christie, you know he has no choice but to cut budgets because he’s broke, his state is broke. What courage really is, is in the face of having a surplus when you have opportunity to spend, spend, spend other people’s money, and you still choose to rein in government to let the private sector soar.”

Palin said as governor she trimmed Alaska’s budget, although it had a surplus. She put a hiring freeze in place, reduced earmarks by 86 percent and vetoed the largest amounts of spending in the state’s history, she said.

Without mentioning potential 2012 Republican candidates by name, Palin said, “I find inspiration in tea party patriots [and] those with common sense who aren’t playing a lot of games.”

On the same show, she said President Obama didn’t understand the labor situation in Wisconsin because he is “so inexperienced in the private sector and in goverment, and in actually running anything and making any kind of budget.”

She added that Obama has a “naive and destructive and terrifying anti-oil agenda” that “is going to bring our nation to our knees — and his agenda must be stopped.”

Wearing the same fleece and faux fur jacket, Palin appeared later on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” to discuss future plans for government entitlements such as Social Security. “Yeah, entitlement programs have to be reformed,” she told the host. “They are going to eat our lunch. They will certainly consume our entire federal budget by 2035. unless we reform.”

Palin cited Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, “A Roadmap for American’s Future” as one way restrain Social Security costs. She said his proposal “can nail it quite accurately, as when he talks about age 55 being a cut-off age” in the future for traditional Social Security payments.

Ryan’s plan would preserve the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older but offer workers younger than 55 the option of investing more than one-third of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts.

Palin chastised the hard-charging O’Reilly for interrupting her: “I really apologize that up here in Alaska we have this four-second delay so it’s not an easy exchange to try and get my point across to you if you interrupt.” O’Reilly let her make points on raising the retirement age and the possibility that safety net programs for the poor will have to be reduced.

“If we had a robust economy here and all across the country then we wouldn’t have to be looking at these insolvent entitlement programs that, yeah, when we start pulling the plug on some of them there is going to be a shared burden across the country,” she said.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:11 am

Joe McGinniss Engages Sarah Palin Via Twitter as Manuscript Controversy Plays Out

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Sarah Palin’s cybermessenger, Rebecca Mansour, likes to tweet. In doing so lately, she’s contributed to a new storyline involving her boss and two writers intent upon telling tales about her.

On Feb. 11, she tweeted Joe McGinniss, the author who for a time lived next door to Palin’s Alaska home to work on a book about the 2008 vice presidential candidate. The tweet said: “@joemcginniss have you taken to cyber stalking now that you’re no longer living next door to @SarahPalinUSA? #creepy”

Earlier that same day, McGinniss had responded to one of Mansour’s tweets that said “Praying for the Christians of the Middle East.” McGinniss asked her: “Only the Christians?”

McGinniss only follows three people on Twitter — Palin, Mansour and Gerard Piqué, a Barcelona soccer player. He only recently resumed tweeting in February after nearly a five-month hiatus.

Soon after doing so, McGinniss leaked a rival manuscript on Palin, written by Frank Bailey, a former longtime aide to the possible presidential candidate, to the Anchorage Daily News.

Bailey had been Palin’s chief of staff when she was governor — a job she gave up in 2009 with a year and a half still to serve. Bailey tried to sell a book proposal that year but failed. More recently, he teamed up with two ghostwriters on the new project with the working title “Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years.”

According to news outlets with access to the manuscript, Bailey cites many e-mails from his then boss, including one in which Palin said, “I hate this damn job.”

Bailey was also a key player in the Troopergate scandal that came to national attention after Palin became Sen. John McCain’s GOP running mate in 2008. It involved an investigation into why Palin dismissed her public safety commissioner after he refused to fire state trooper Mike Wooten – with whom Palin’s sister was involved in a child custody battle when the couple divorced in 2006. In the manuscript, Bailey writes that Todd Palin recruited him to go after Wooten, saying, “It’s time to get s–t, done, and it’s us, Frank. You and me.”

Other allegations include Palin illegally coordinating with the Republican Governor’s Association to film a campaign spot during her 2006 run for governor.

Bailey collaborated on the book with Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon (the latter is a founding editor of The Mudflats Blog, which is often critical of Palin).

The Carol Mann Agency in New York is shopping the manuscript to publishers. According to Publisher’s Marketplace, the agency represents Queen Latifah, conservative pundit Thomas Sowell and television sports reporter Hannah Storm.

One of the ghostwriters told the Associated Press that the manuscript is preliminary and had not been authorized for dissemination. It’s unclear why McGinniss leaked the manuscript — the Daily News says it received copies from him as well as other sources — or how he obtained it. The ghostwriters have accused him of copyright infringement by distributing it without authorization. As a result, they allege, potential interest in their work has been diminished. They claim McGinniss is a jealous author intent on sabotaging his competition.

McGinniss is a best-selling author whose works include “The Selling of the President 1968,” which landed on The New York Times bestseller list when McGinniss — now in his late-sixties — was just 26.

In November 2009, McGinniss’ representative, the David Black Literary Agency, sold his Palin manuscript to Broadway Books. According to the Publishers’ Marketplace database, the book is described as “an investigative narrative of Sarah Palin’s significance as both political and cultural phenomenon and as an embodiment of the contradictory forces that shaped Alaska as it moved into its second half-century as a state.”

In May 2010, he moved next door to the Palins’ house in Wasilla and began research for the work. (On her Facebook page, Palin warned him to stay away from her children.) Last September, he moved out, and tweeted: “Palin’s next neighbors: sadly, I leave Lake Lucille but am told a Muslim group will move in next week to establish a community center.”

On Feb. 12, McGinniss tweeted to @SarahPalinUSA: “Book has never been delayed. Always planned for fall. On schedule for publication Sept. 20.”

He followed that tweet with: “Cover release now set for week of Feb. 21. My website and Facebook fan page for THE ROGUE also coming soon.”

For all parties, any publicity is good publicity. It can only help with pre-orders on Amazon for McGinniss’ book. As for Bailey, a book deal is likely in his inbox.

But in this publishing mystery, questions remain: How did McGinniss get access to the Bailey manuscript? Had Bailey confessed Palin secrets to McGinniss? Isn’t the book market strong enough for two Palin tomes? Who benefits the most from creating trouble among all these parties?

To some extent, the answers will likely play out on Twitter.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:00 am

Lady Gaga Pushes ‘Born This Way’; Sarah Palin Backs Gay Group

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Sarah Palin and Lady Gaga on the same page?

When it comes to expanding rights for gays and lesbians, the two powerful media mavens — one on the left, one on the right — appear to share some similar views.

On Friday, Lady Gaga is blanketing the media to promote her new album, “Born This Way,” which won’t even be released until May 23. The title, which is also the first single released Friday, says it all, and the song is already being called a 21st century gay anthem by the likes of Sir Elton John.

Earlier this week, Sarah Palin restated that she supported GOProud, a self-identifying gay group, and that they should be included in this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

Palin, who is not appearing at CPAC, said on Fox News, “I don’t have a problem with different, diverse groups that are involved in political discourse, and having a convention to talk about what the answers are to their problems that face America.”

Her position is a rarity among most conservatives, but Lady Gaga would be proud. Maybe she’ll discuss it with Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes” this Sunday. Or perhaps Palin will get a shout-out at the Grammy’s when Lady Gaga performs later that night.

While February was deemed a no Sarah Palin zone (it hasn’t exactly worked), Lady Gaga is about to seize the rest of the month.

No one – not even Palin – knows how to work media, social and otherwise, like Lady Gaga. She has more Twitter followers (more than 8 million) and Facebook fans (28 million) than any politician, including President Barack Obama (18 million) or Palin (2.7 million). She’s a powerhouse who’s already sold millions of records and broken social media and YouTube records. She can make any Twitter hashtag trend in less than an hour and uses Facebook to communicate with fans.

Last year, she took on Washington, challenging numerous politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, during the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” battle. Millions of her fans, called Little Monsters, bombarded Capitol Hill with calls asking their senators to repeal DADT.

The repeal movement succeeded, despite conservatives’ resistance, and Gaga can certainly share the credit.

Like her right-wing Alaskan sister, she generates controversy.

Lady Gaga appears on the March cover of “Vogue” in a pink 1920s flapper wig. Lady Gaga leaked the magazine cover on Facebook, which reportedly infuriated Vogue editors.

Then there’s the dance-pop “Born This Way” song itself.

The lyrics focus on civil rights for an array of people — “black, white, beige” and gay and straight, Gaga says. But she throws in a couple of words that have puzzled and angered people — “chola descent” and the passé word, “orient,” to describe Asians.

“Chola,” in urban slang, describes a negative stereotype of hardcore Latina gangbangers, and some in the Latino media have slammed Lady Gaga for using it.

So is Lady Gaga a racist or simply ignorant of the meaning of ‘chola’?” asked the website My Latino Voice.

On Thursday, more controversy bubbled when Lady Gaga announced that she had partnered with Target to offer an exclusive deluxe edition of her new album, “Born This Way.”

Last year, Target gave a $150,000 corporate donation to Republican candidate Tom Emmer — an opponent of same-sex marriage — in the Minnesota governor’s race. While Target’s chief executive apologized, amid protests and boycotts, the corporation declined to make a donation to pro-gay-rights groups. Maybe promoting Lady Gaga is the company’s way of calling it even?

Once the single was released Friday, music critics immediately started comparing it to Madonna’s 1989 hit, “Express Yourself.” Many outlets, including US magazine and Popeater, ran articles noting the songs’ similarities. Twitter was buzzing about the two songs. Lady Gaga has not responded to the comparison.

Palin, too, is facing a brewing controversy as liberal gay rights advocacy groups refuse to acknowledge her support of conservative gays.

Any hullabaloo is only good for Lady Gaga and Palin.

For now, Lady Gaga is blasting ahead full throttle with her enterprises — she recently became Polaroid’s creative director, co-designing a product line that includes an instant mobile printer, an instant digital camera and the “GL20 Camera Glasses” — still wearing the crown of reigning diva of the gay community.

Palin, ever smartly, could become a trailblazer by including gays and lesbians in the GOP dialogue just in time for 2012.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:44 am

Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum: Throwing Punches Ahead of 2012 Battle?

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has made up with Sarah Palin over remarks he made earlier this week about her absence at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Santorum told reporters after speaking at CPAC Thursday afternoon that it’s all good with Palin. “I’ve had exchanges with Sarah Palin not not for public record, and there is no problem between Sarah Palin and me on this issue,” CNN’s Political Ticker reported.

“We are fine. No problem,” Santorum said. “We’ve had exchanges” through an intermediary.

Just last night the former Alaska governor had her claws out on national TV.

In classic Palin fashion, she knocked down the potential presidential candidate a peg or two in speaking about her absence at this year’s CPAC, which began Thursday in Washington.

“I think the reports were much worse than what [Santorum] really said,” Palin said on the Fox News show “Hannity.” “I think some things were really taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.”


She continued, “I think maybe he’s uninformed as to why it is I can’t make it to another political speech in a couple of weeks. As I’ve explained, February is our busiest winter month and . . . just because I am a mom that does not mean I did not want to be there.”

Earlier this week, Santorum told conservative pundit S.E. Cupp in an interview for that he didn’t know why Palin wasn’t appearing at CPAC — but he hinted that it might have something to do with business opportunities and family. The remarks were deemed sexist by some.

“I have a feeling she has some demands on her time . . . and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them,” he said. “So I am sure she is doing what is best for her and her family.”

He continued, “I’m not the mother to all of these kids and I don’t have other responsibilities like she has.”

Immediately after Palin’s comment on “Hannity,” Santorum responded on another Fox News show, “On the Record w/Greta Van Susteren,” saying that he was not “knocking” Palin. He said that she was a great spokesperson for the causes they believe in and both have children with disabilities.

It’s not like Palin has been a regular at CPAC. She has skipped the event for the last three years. David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union (which sponsors the gathering), and Palin have an ongoing feud.

Santorum, who is scheduled to speak at the event Thursday afternoon, served as a Pennsylvania senator from 1995 to 2007. He lost his 2006 reelection bid to Bob Casey Jr. Both he and Palin are toying with a 2012 presidential run.

The Iowa Republican website has called Santorum a “rising” candidate.

“There will be a huge void created if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don’t run in 2012, and those votes could easily go to a candidate like Santorum,” the website reports.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:41 am

Breaking the Sarah Palin Trademark Story: A Lesson in Journalism Ethics

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Sometimes a light bulb goes off.

One night at 2 a.m. I was reading a story by Matt Lewis about Herman Cain, a possible 2012 presidential candidate from Georgia. Pursuing the Cain story further, I discovered that he had trademarked the phrase “The Hermanator Experience.”

Trademark? Hmm. I wondered if Sarah Palin had trademarked something with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It seemed like something she would do. A quick search and voila! Indeed, her longtime family attorney, Thomas Van Flein, had filed two applications with the office for the names Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin.
But with that scoop about Palin’s branding, a question about journalism ethics and civility in the 21st century arose. In the Internet age, does the old journalism rule of giving credit to a breaking story’s original source still apply?

In this zip-zip era of blogs, it’s easy to lose track of which outlet breaks a story first, especially as it becomes viral through social media. The Palin story was picked up by many websites, including Politico, The Atlantic Wire, Vanity Fair, Talking Points Memo and Mediaite. Those sites linked to the original story and gave Politics Daily credit.

Then something odd happened. Vanity Fair began getting credit for the story. It was as if reporters weren’t even reading the Vanity Fair piece — and noting its reference to the original source — but just copying and pasting the link into their stories. To confront or not to confront? That was the question.

In journalism, professional courtesy has been a long-standing tradition, and it still pays for reporters to check the accuracy of sources, whether they’re writing for a newspaper or a blog. In other words, search for the original source. Not to so do isn’t exactly unethical, but it is lazy and sloppy at best.

In 2008, Jeff Jarvis wrote on his “Buzz Machine” blog: “I believe it is vital that we as an industry find ways to point to and give credit to original reporting. That is how original journalism will be supported, in the end: by monetizing the audience that comes to it, whether through advertising or contributions.”

He also created a golden rule: “Link unto others’ good stuff as you would have them link unto your good stuff.”

Thankfully, ethics still exist among some reporters. When I e-mailed a Salon reporter, he immediately apologized and said he would link to Politics Daily. He did so. The same thing happened when I e-mailed a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When a reporter with the New York Daily News gave another AOL entity credit instead of Politics Daily, I sent her a nice note explaining that the two were separate sites. She apologized and changed it within five minutes.

But not everyone was so eager to please.

The Arkansas Times blog didn’t cite Politics Daily — or any site, for that matter — in the body of the post. The report did have a link to Talking Points Memo. When I questioned the editor, Max Brantley, he replied, “I linked to where I read it.”

Easy enough mistake, but I pressed for attribution, explaining that Politics Daily broke the story. He answered, “I see that now, as will anyone who opens the link. I rarely dig into the chain of sources on blog links, particularly when I use so little of the content.”

He finally gave Politics Daily credit for the story but refused to link to the original source.

Journalism professors say this is a no-no.

“I think a media outlet is absolutely duty bound to link to stuff that has already been reported elsewhere,” says Mike Lyons, a former reporter for the Associated Press and now an assistant professor of journalism at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “We would have expected them to do that in the ‘old media world,’ by giving credit where credit was due and attributing the original report. Why would that change?”

Reuters did not do so. Its reporter wrote a lengthy story but never credited Politics Daily as the first outlet to report the Palin trademark applications. The Reuters story spread quickly and landed in many print publications across the world. Reuters did add new information to the story, reporting that Palin now has a new attorney handling the trademark issue. (Van Flein now works for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona with strong tea party ties.) The Reuters reporter didn’t reply to my e-mail.

“Even contemporary journalism ethics would require that an outlet credit another organization for a story if it is first reported there,” says Richard J. Goedkoop, professor of communication at LaSalle University. “To do otherwise might be considered plagiarism, or at the least, unprofessional.”

And now to the Associated Press. The AP always requires a citation from other publications that quote a story by the wire service. The cited reference cannot be more than a paragraph or so of AP’s original story and the wire service is a stickler for demanding credit.

But when AP reported the trademark story, no credit was given. I e-mailed the Alaska bureau chief and explained the situation. He agreed that Politics Daily should have been cited and said he would correct it in an updated version of the story.

He made the change, but it was the last sentence in the story. Later, a small victory did arrive from Traci Carl, the AP’s West Editor, wrote in an e-mail, “You are right. The Associated Press should have give you credit for breaking the Palin trademark story, and we should have put it higher in the story. We will do so in the future.”

The Internet is a big, big place and I’m beginning to feel a bit like Sisyphus. Click click click. I love the Internet, but every now and then I miss the thud of a rolled-up newspaper landing on my doorstep. It was firm and final and certainly unsearchable. What we called “tomorrow’s kitty litter box liner” was a curse, but maybe it was a blessing, too.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:34 am