Palin's Thin Skin

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 17 2011 11:51 AM

Palin's Thin Skin

In Iowa last week, at some point after I left the Palin scrum, the former part-term governor of Alaska called Daily Caller reporter Alex Pappas to berate him for a headline. He wrote, accurately, that Palin was holding out her endorsement and would support any Republican who won the nomination.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Fox Nation picked up the story and, in its own headline (not Pappas', not the Daily Caller's, but its own headline completely apart from anything Pappas ever wrote) played up the "Romney endorse" angle in a way that apparently did not make it clear that the endorsement might be in the general election, rather than the primary campaign. (The headline is no longer available at Fox Nation, so I can't say exactly what the wording was.)
Anyway, the Palin team pounced... Palin called Pappas' cell phone and began berating him in a very scolding manner for writing a headline suggesting she supports Romney. Pappas didn't even know what she was talking about. When he tried to say that neither he nor his editors had written such a headline, she said she didn't have time for this, that she needed to go back to the "real people" at the State Fair, and hung up on him.
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I deleted Hillyer's reference to a Politico reporter coming over to hear the exchange; she was in a scrum and reporters could hear what Palin was saying. Also, that factoid is used in this Robert Stacy McCain defense of Palin. His other two factoids:

Governor Palin did not personally dial up Pappas’s number. She asked around among her aides if anyone knew how to get in touch with Pappas. One member of her advance team, Jason Recher, had Pappas’s number, called him and then handed the phone to the governor.
Governor Palin wasn’t screaming angrily at Pappas. Again, Palin was in the middle of a crowd, which was quite noisy, and if her voice was loud, it was because she was trying to make herself heard amid the hubub.

What does any of that matter? She felt the need, in a scrum, to have an aide call a reporter, and berate that reporter while other members of the press listened. And she hadn't checked the story she was so angry about!

Like I said, I had left the scrum before this happened. But when I was in it, I watched Palin dig into RCP's Scott Conroy for tweeting that Palin was somehow dissing Rick Perry when she said the governor of Texas was a weaker position than the governor of Alaska. Compare Palin's frenzied, angry, and unsupported reaction here to Bachmann's collected and calm reaction to the bug-eyed Newsweek cover.

 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.