Posted Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, at 3:28 PM
Today, I initiate a new gauge for how much news (or "news") is generated by the tweets of Sarah Palin. Before I begin, some background. For most of 2009, Palin gave only limited commentary and access to the mainstream media. During this period, we grew used to reading deep into Palin's statements on Twitter or on Facebook, because she didn't have that many statements to base reporting on. Now, of course, Palin talks all the time. But her 140 character bursts are still read like Rosetta stones, cryptic guides to her traffic-generating opinions.
So: The Palin tweet index is a ratio of how many of her words appear in a Palin tweet versus how many words appear in a story about said tweet. Today's example is a retweet of Tammy Bruce's tweet about homophobia in the USS Enterprise scandal.
RT @HeyTammyBruce But this hypocrisy is just truly too much. Enuf already--the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed.
None of this is Palin speaking -- it's her bringing attention to 28 words from Tammy Bruce, the gay conservative radio host. But let's say she's responsible for "RT @HeyTammyBruce" and count that as two words. A CNN story about the tweet has 294 words, for a Palin Tweet Index of 147.
Palin hasn't said anything more on the issue so it remains unclear exactly what she meant to convey, but the re-tweet is a rare comment from Palin when it comes to any issue involving gay rights – a likely hot-button issue in upcoming Republican primary presidential campaign given the recent repeal of the long- running military policy that forbade gay service members to serve openly.
It remains unclear! Of course -- that's the risk if your Palin Tweet Index rises above 50. That's nothing compared to Bruce's response, though -- 790 words (not counting an excerpt from a column by Matt Lewis) about what Palin might have meant, for a 395 Palin Tweet Index.
When it comes to Sarah Palin’s position on DADT, I have never asked her about it and she has never spoken to me about it–but I assess her as a Conservative with Libertarian influence. Both her husband and son are Independents, with Mr. Palin serving as his wife’s primary adviser. I will remind people of things already in the public realm about the governor–she refused to veto partner benefits legislation as governor of Alaska and is a firm believer in fairness and "live and let live." She is not a Culture Warrior, however. She is, which should be apparent by her Facebook postings and opinion pieces, a Policy Wonk. She is also, which is clearly evident, a charismatic leader who remains grounded by her character, faith and family.
I don't think this clears the issue up. It's more mind-reading. The
about the tweet that answers anything is this one by Andy Barr, with a Palin tweet index of 183.
If Palin did indeed support the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," it would be a departure from her past statements on gays serving openly in the military.
Palin said last February in an interview with Fox News Sunday that she was "surprised" that President Barack Obama advocated repealing the military policy during his State of the Union Address last year, saying that it was not a priority "right now."
"There are other things to be worried about right now with the military," Palin said at the time. "I think that kind of on the back burner, is sufficient for now. To put so much time, and effort, and politics into it, [is] unnecessary."
Context! So now we know what Palin thinks about DADT... although perhaps the fact that she didn't use Facebook, Fox, or Twitter to comment on it in December is more illustrative.