MPR Midday featured a fascinating — if slightly uncomfortable — moment today when the question came up of whether news organizations who talk about Sarah Palin are being irresponsible.
The question also revealed that the Tim Pawlenty vs. Sarah Palin camps may already be forming.
National Public Radio national political correspondent Mara Liasson was Gary Eichten’s guest to talk about Palin’s new book, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”
It started when a caller to the show made this point:
“Aren’t you by giving this person and this book the kind of coverage that you’re giving right now on this program and consulting a national correspondent and so on, aren’t you lending a cachet to this sort of mental lightweight that she doesn’t deserve? We have… there are very good people on all sides of issues — qualified people; Tim Pawlenty is one of them. Tim Pawlenty is a guy I don’t agree with very often, but he’s served many terms in office. He’s knowledgeable. He’s well spoken. He’s well traveled. He understands gray matters and complicated issues. This person does not deserve a national spotlight or the limelight. This is showbiz. This is not how we need to be conducting national politics.”
It brings up an interesting question: Do listeners learn more by hearing about people in the news? Or should it be filtered and should someone decide which political players — we’re not seriously arguing that Palin isn’t a political player, right? — deserve to be heard? Are we interested only in hearing our own views reflected back at us?
It’s bait that Eichten usually doesn’t take. And he didn’t.
“Well, obviously Willie is not going to be supporting Sarah Palin.”
But Mara Liasson specializes in this sort of thing:
“Well, no, but that’s a good question for you. By doing this aren’t you giving her a platform… by doing an hour-long show about her?”
Eichten still didn’t take the bait:
“No, I’m quizzing a national political correspondent… who covers national politics why Sarah Palin is such a polarizing and interesting figure to America?”
The answer to the caller’s question seems obvious. Palin is going to run for president, and Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com today explains why.
But the original point sets up an either/or scenario. You can either talk about Palin or you can talk about Pawlenty. To the extent that’s true — and for the most part, it’s not — the blame has to go to Pawlenty. He rejects most every request from Midday for an interview. The last time he accepted was April 13, 2009.
But both Pawlenty and Palin have similarities. Both claim not to be thinking about being president, even as the actions of both clearly suggest they are: