Sarah Palin Talks about the Birth of Citizen Journalism Started by Matt Drudge

By: Drew Bowling - June 18, 2012

In Oscar Wilde’s A Few Maxims For The Instruction Of The Over-Educated, his collection of smirk-inducing aphorisms published in 1894, the erudite wordsmith wrote, “In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.” Where else than on the internet could this lament be more appropriately applied?

I don’t take Wilde’s sentiment as academic elitism so much as a caveat to be more discerning with whom we decide to validate with our attention and approval, especially as more people gain access to the public’s ear thanks to the internet. In essence, we must be active listeners instead of a passive audience indistinguishable from mildewy sink sponges just waiting to sop up whatever gets poured over us.

Keeping that tenet in mind, former Vice Presidential candidate and mama grizzly-in-chief Sarah Palin recently gave the keynote address to the RightOnline 2012 conference about the “birth of citizen journalism,” crediting Matt Drudge as the progenitor of what now might be considered the activist contingency of journalism. And while citizen journalism has certainly grown to become a valuable asset to our global collection of news, Wilde likely never imagined that his caution for the audience’s vigilance would be as necessary as it is in our new age of all internet, all the time.

Below, Palin describes Drudge’s breakout moment in the late 1990s:

For reasons not specified on the YouTube page, commenting on this video has been disabled.

Drew Bowling

About the Author

Drew BowlingDrew Bowling is a staff writer for WebProNews. He never met an all-you-can-eat buffet he didn't like. Twitter: @bentfortherent Google: +Drew Bowling

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  • Ron McPhee

    “Are Alaskans outraged, or at least tired of this yet – another frivolous ethics charge by a political blogger? This would be hilarious if it weren’t so expensive for the state to process these accusations and for me to defend against these bogus harassments. Yes, I wore Arctic Cat snow gear at an outdoor event, because it was cold outside, and by the way, today, I am wearing clothes bearing the names of Alaska artists, and a Glennallen Panthers basketball hoodie. I am a walking billboard for the team’s fundraiser! Should I expect to see an ethics charge for wearing these, or the Carhartts I wear to many public events? How much will this blogger’s asinine political grandstanding cost all of us in time and money?”

    Sarah Palin: March 2009

    In 2008, she decried bloggers who wrote critical opinions of her as pajama clad kids in their mom’s basement. Interesting, given Bristol Palin has had to return home after her short burst of fame and riches. Once that gravy train ended, she had to return to the nest and try again to recapture that moment she had in 2010 and while claiming to be over Hollywood, selling herself once again to reality tv.

    Now, she says bloggers and so-called citizen journalists are the best thing since hair on a monkey. How much time and resources did the phony ACORN sting cost, given that actual law enforcement experts determined no crimes took place and the tapes were selectively edited. Same with the Live Action “stings” of Planned Parenthood.

    The problem with bloggers and non-mainstream media outlets is one Palin should be familiar with, given her past gripes: There is no chain of liability and there are no copy editors or fact checkers. During the Bush era, many blogs that were anarchical or left leaning touted the claim that Iraq War was a result of dual loyalty Israel first neocons doing the bidding of the Likud Party, a claim also hyped by some supporters of Ron Paul. When it was shown that the evidence was anecdotal or tenuous at best, the bloggers kept on, even after an aide to Colin Powell said that leading up to the invasion, a representative of Israel’s defense department expressed misgivings of such an undertaking.

    Same thing with these right wing blogs. They deal in discredited chain e-mails and claims regarding Obama’s citizenship, actions, and selectively edited audio visual recordings such as the ACORN tapes.

    Of course, like the phony astroturf tea party, this event was sponsored by Koch Industries via Americans For Prosperity. Hence, in Palinworld, bloggers who criticize her are unkempt pajama clad Cheeto eating trolls living in mommy’s basement yet bloggers who call Obama a Kenyan socialist jihadist (btw, that is a contradiction because jihadists hate socialists. Socialists believe in women’s rights and are generally agnostic, atheist or secular) are just great patriots. The difference is, these right leaning bloggers she touts usually work for some corporate sponsor and are toadies for the oligarchic right a la Koch Brothers.

    Palin is a fraud and luckily has been reduced to spewing her poison to Las Vegas conference halls. Gone are the big rallies of late 2009 and 2010 and in a few more years, the Tea Party will go the way of the John Birch Society (Fred Koch, the father of Charles and David Koch, was a member of the JBS) and other such similar movements: a lot of noise and hype at first and over time, they become just a minor collection of oddballs. The Birchers are only known now for their early years of pushing strange conspiracy theories such as civil rights being a Moscow front, fluoride being a communist conspiracy and one member, John G. Schmitz, a Congressman from California and father of Mary Kay Letourneau, said he was disapoointed Nixon returned from his trip to China in 1972. He was also like the Joe Walsh (R-Il) of his day, refusing to support two kids he had out of wedlock.

    Sarah Palin: The cotton candy of U.S. politics

    • Drew Bowling

      To you, sir, I pass the gravy.

      As I suggested in the article, there’s a valid point that not all citizen journalism is quality journalism. So many people believe these days that their self-serving punditry should be included among legitimate journalism.

      Then again, as Hunter S. Thompson said, if somebody wants objective journalism, they should go watch video from a security camera.

  • Ron McPhee

    The problem is that most so-called legitimate media anymore is little more than a collection of opinion or editorial monitors. Fox is obviously an arm of the RNC/GOP and it can be said that MSNBC does the same for the DNC. CNN goes for what Jon Stewart called the Coke/Pepsi model and what Paul Krugman called the Centrist Cop Out:

    Coke, what is your opinion?

    Ok, Pepsi, what is your rebuttal?

    That is it folks, bringing you both sides of an issue.

    CNN has no clarity and while they claim to not be partisan to one side or other, their model is to simply let partisan hucksters on and spew their talking points and let it go, rather than pointing out the flaws in the arguments. This is often due to the fear of being seen as “biased” so they go for the false balance.

    The Big 3 are now owned by corporations, just like cable news and are reliant on advertiser dollars and as a result, have cut back on real investigative reporting and go for fluff human interest stories or sensationalism e.g. the Casey Anthony trial. Most investigative news outlets like 20/20 and Dateline anymore go for the same approach: some guy killing his wife so he can marry the local PTA president or some wife trying to hire a hit man for $500 and a Happy Meal to off her hubby to get his life insurance policy; police blotter and AP wire stuff rather than going after major players such as corporations and governments that do real damage to far more people.

    Add in that in 2003, there was no skepticism by the media towards George W. Bush and his intentions regarding Iraq. No reporters asked him anything regarding that nation’s history, how it is composed of several sectarian and ethnic groups with deep hatreds towards each other and how deposing Hussein would inflame those hatreds as well as what evidence was there Hussein posed a threat to America.

    These are what gave rise to the blogs and citizen journalism. However, in the case of RightOnline, these are often GOP political hatchet men whose agenda is to advance the Republican Party’s political aims. Drudge was and is nothing more than a GOP flack man who found a niche among conspiracy theorists who claimed Clinton was practically The Godfather of Arkansas. Years later, left and anarchist sites claimed Bush was in thrall to the Zionist Lobby.

    Bloggers often tend to simply cut and paste the work of others, usually other bloggers. The ones who do go out into field such as James O’Keefe, Hannah Giles or Lila Rose already go with a prejudice and try to find little anecdotal bits to fit their preconceived notions rather than responding to legitimate citizen concerns and going to seek facts. Nobody came to O’Keefe or Giles to complain about ACORN. Instead, they went out to create a fuss. Same thing with Rose. Nobody came to her to express concerns about Planned Parenthood. She went to them to create controversy where none existed.

    The onus is on legitimate journalists to go beyond just being opinion moderators or copying the police blotter or AP wire and ask he important questions. What is the reason for the United States to use force against a sovereign state that is no threat to the U.S? Why did the Tea Party only rise up about the deficit and debt when Obama was elected when the issue had been raised at least 5 years prior by various economists and analysts? That is what has to happen to regain legitimacy.

    The crowd Palin spoke to were basically of the Hannity/Breitbart ilk and had an agenda going into the conference. Their whole goal is to delegitimize an elected president and should be viewed simply as freelance character assassins for the GOP.