Hannitization: Partially Accomplished

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 18 2011 8:26 AM

Hannitization: Partially Accomplished

So, did the Hannitization take? Last week I expected that Sarah Palin would act as so many conservatives have, and use a soft interview on Hannity to get past her recent unpleasantness. (If you forgot, she was dinged by criticism about what her gun talk and "target map" did to our political tone, and posted a video response to the criticism that accused the scolds of a "blood libel.")

The questions were very soft. There were no follow-ups, just chances for Palin to respond to even more unfair criticisms as presented by Hannity. And despite that, Palin managed to squirt a bit more gasoline on a fire everyone had forgotten about. On the stuff with the libeling and the blood:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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I don't know how the heck they would know if whether I did or didn't know the term "blood libel," nobody has ever asked me. And "blood libel" obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands.  And in this case that's exactly what was going on. And yes, the historical knowledge that people have of the term blood libel, it goes back to the Jews who were falsely accused back in medieval European times of using the blood of children.

This is fine as it goes. A few people literally accused Palin of having played a role in the Tucson shooting; the only person I remember literally saying she had "blood on her hands" was Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin, but certainly, some people implied it. On the target map, Palin is perfectly alright. She just walks back the first-day spin that her aide Rebecca Mansour gave it.

[T]he graphic that we used was crosshairs targeting the different districts. And, again, that's not original.  In fact, Democrats have been using it for years.

Not surveyor's symbols, then, but nice to have that out of the way. Palin performed fine, but she went into the interview with very little to gain. She was responding to a story that was, as of Monday night, nine days old, and she did it in a format that was safer than milk.

Here are Hannity's original questions, the best way to get the tone of what Palin walked into.

- Let's go back to the very beginning, nine days ago, when the shooting occurred. Where were you and what were you thinking at the time?

- Governor, I Googled your name and I put in the words, Governor, Sarah Palin Tucson shooting.  And it came up nearly 10,000 times in 10,000 instances where you connected to this. When did you first realize you were being connected to this tragedy?

- Yes, I didn't particularly like my profession, what I do for a living, being called a merchant of hate by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I didn't like it at all, and I responded.  And I'm going to get to your choice in responding and all that in just a second. A lot of these initial stories, Governor, had to do with this map that your PAC had put up during the last campaign, and the fact that Congresswoman Giffords was one of the people on, quote, "the target list," in the crosshairs that were there. What could you tell us about this map?  And I'll get into more questions after that.

- Did you or your PAC have this taken off the Web site immediately after the shooting? Because that's been bantered about.

- Governor, you mentioned earlier the DLC has used this. Bob Beckel did say this; Pat Caddell, a Democrat, over the years has said this -- this is a DLC map we are looking at in the screen here, a bullseye map targeting districts, and it says it right there, targeting strategy. All these war analogies. Clintons had a war room. It's very common in politics. Why do you think you were singled out and the left singled you out in this, Governor?

- Yes, during the campaign, we had Joe Manchin, now Senator Manchin, and he took a rifle and he fired a bullet right through the cap and tax bill.  He said, in retrospect, he probably wouldn't do it again.  In light of this criticism, fair or unfair, in light of the events, do you think targeting maps, bulls eyes, et cetera, that they should no longer be used in these campaigns, Governor?

- What do you think to pundits -- and I know so much has been said, as I mentioned, when we Googled you, it's, you know, 10,000 articles related to the Tucson shooting.  And I've got to imagine that bothers you.  It's -- I guess the question that I am asking here, some have suggested, well, this -- that's the end of Sarah Palin's political career.  Sarah Palin has become radioactive, is a term someone used, for example.  Do you -- do you -- does this impact you or your political future in any way, Governor?  Or change you?

- Governor, when -- you specifically said when these war terms are used, this is not a call for violence.  All of that was ignored by the media. Does that frustrate you more?

- Do you -- you know, it's interesting, because the very same media that you're talking about, Governor, I have quotes here from NBC, from ABC, from CNN, from "National Journal" and the "Anchorage Daily News" -- and I can go on and on.  The majority of them say something to the effect of Palin in the crosshairs -- the very same thing that they were so critical of you, they have used that terminology repeatedly again and again and again. Do you receive, Governor, a lot of death threats?

Quick editorial comment -- that was fairly hilarious. If anyone read a cliche about Palin and was inspired to violence, stop that now!

- Let me -- let me go through some of the things that -- that I've picked up -- and these were -- some were controversies at the time -- and maybe get you to respond to them. Madonna was once at a concert in 2008: "And Sarah Palin just got off my street.  She will not go to DC.  She'll get off my street. I'll kick her ass if she doesn't get off my street." Sandra Bernhard talked about "if Palin shows up in New York City, she's going to be gang-raped by my big black brothers." There's a series of left-wing images about you, Governor, for example, a cartoon with the acronym MILP that depicts you being punched in the face with your glasses coming -- you know, obviously coming off "a mother, I'd like to punch;" a bumper sticker for sale that reads, "abort Sarah Palin." You know, and I could really go on for the better part of the show. And -- because a lot of this -- and the president talked about civil discourse.  And, you know, I don't think a lot of people on the left have been very civil toward you over the years.  And I don't -- I really don't hear you complaining a lot about it. Why do you think they're trying to complain so much as you and this one map and -- and some of the -- you know, reload, etc. And some other comments you've made?

- Governor, what did you think of the president's speech the other night?

- Governor, when you finally released your video, not surprising, more controversy involving you.  I want to give you a chance to respond to this.  One was the timing of the release of the video, which was I believe the day before the memorial.  And the second one was the term -- "but especially within hours of the tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.  That is reprehensible."  And, you know, some of your critics saying, you didn't know the historical significance.  Other people criticized you for that phrase.  But I want you to address the timing and that phrase.

- What did you think of the criticism of those, though, in the Jewish community about the use of that term?  I know others came to your defense, but what did you think about the critics?

- A lot of Americans, Governor, on the left and on the right are interested in your thinking process about what you think about your political future.  Have you given this thought, say, even prior to the tragedy in Tucson about what your political future is going to be?  Are you thinking about running for president?

- Governor, almost from the second that you were on the national stage, you have been loved by many, and you have been a lightning rod in the public arena.  When moments like this happen, do you ever find yourself saying to yourself, you know what?  Maybe I am just going to stay in Wasilla and stay out of this big national debate? Do you ever have those moments of doubt, or perhaps feeling that you would like the comfort of not having to deal with this all the time?

And scene.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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