Anybody Watch Sarah Palin on Tuesday’s Today Show? What Did You Think?

Posted on April 4, 2012

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Sarah Palin appeared as a guest co-host on NBC’s Today show, 3 April.  Here’s my takeaway.

First, she seems more coherent than I recall.   I found her more articulate, and generally well prepared (maybe I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, she was a TV news sportscaster at one time).  The usual convoluted, wandering sentences that led nowhere were notably absent.  Even her folksy northern accent with the oddly long vowels seemed toned down.

Second, she tried to show us that she can poke fun at herself.  This was a big contrast with her past behavior, where any embarrassing situation was blamed on “gotcha” journalism or the “lamestream media.” There were a couple of gags up front playing off the 2008 campaign; our first view was of her sitting on a sofa with newspapers spread out around her (a reference to her disastrous non-answer to Katie Couric’s question on what newspapers she reads), and she laughed about going to 30 Rock, in reference to Tina Fey’s impressions of her.  During one break, the camera “caught” Palin scribbling notes on her palm.  All slightly humorous if a little shopworn, but then again – it was all very scripted, too.  As in: controlled.  Predictable.

Third, despite the jokes about the 2008 campaign, it was a decidedly a kid-gloves atmosphere.  During the segment on raising teenage girls, Palin acknowledged her two younger daughters, a teen and a pre-teen; but there was no mention at all of Bristol Palin, who famously endured the national spotlight as a pregnant teen during the 2008 campaign.  In fact, in this segment about raising teen girls, the issue of teen pregnancy was not mentioned at all.  Well – to be fair, it’s not like one can really go in depth during a short Today segment.  But still.  I expected some kind of sound bite on it, and it was conspicuously absent.

This show was touted as showing us “a different side of Sarah Palin.”  While it started off with her opinions on the Republican field of candidates (including a predictable “Anybody but Obama”),  the rest of the segments featuring Palin dealt with non-political issues:  appetizers and girl talk with Tori Spelling, Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight gain, Oprah’s OWN network.  Still, there  were the little “me” moments.  In a discussion on whether Ashton Kutcher should portray Steve Jobs, Palin tossed out, “Do any of you here have experience with people being paid a lot of money to pretend like they’re you?”  She went on to deny having seen Game Change, saying she wouldn’t waste her time with it, but called Tina Fey’s SNL impressions of her “clever.”  I’m not so sure we really saw a different side of Palin.  It’s more like she was a bit suppressed, with her usual nature breaking through from time to time.

So why do the show?  Perhaps because she realizes that she needs the “lamestream media,” as she called it several times this morning, more than the media needs her.  Maybe her next book will be titled, “going mainstream.”

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