Sarah Palin’s spokeswoman Saturday took the unusual step of posting a statement on Facebook denying an anonymous blog report that the former Alaska governor was getting a divorce and moving to Montana.
“Yet again, some so-called journalists have decided to make up a story,” wrote Meg Stapleton on Palin’s Facebook page. “There is no truth to the recent ‘story’ (and story is the correct term for this type of fiction) that the Palins are divorcing. The Palins remain married, committed to each other and their family, and have not purchased land in Montana (last week it was reported to be Long Island).”
Actually, no journalists had reported the allegations. They were made on an Alaskan blog called “The Immoral Minority,” and then repeated on other blogs, including Gawker, a well-trafficked New York gossip site.
The author of "The Immoral Majority" only goes by “Gryphen” and says on his blog that he’s a 49-year-old male in Anchorage. He didn’t respond to an email message sent to the Yahoo account listed on the blog asking for his name.
By having her spokeswoman repeat the charges to rebut them in a public form, Palin effectively guaranteed coverage from the mainstream media that otherwise would not report claims attributed to unnamed sources on an anonymous blog.
Last month, just after announcing that she would resign, Palin similarly had her attorney issue a stinging letter threatening news organizations with defamation lawsuits if they reported on blog rumors that she was facing federal indictment. In doing so, Palin’s attorney recounted in detail the issue at the center of the accusations – that as Wasilla mayor she embezzled money from the construction of a town sports arena. Until the letter, the rumor had been confined to blogs. (Justice Department officials subsequently said there was no investigation).
Going public with denials of these sort of charges may represent an odd sort of preemptive defense.
But conflating such allegations by political opponents with the reporting of the mainstream media also endears Palin to her conservative base, as reflected in the comments below Stapleton’s Facebook post.
“The liberal media should be so ashamed of their lies!,” wrote an admirer.
Palin has railed against the media since she was selected to run for vice president on the GOP ticket last year and has ratcheted up her rhetoric since deciding to quit.
She bemoaned press coverage both in announcing that she would resign and in the speech she gave last Sunday when she actually stepped down, saying that freedom of the press was an important American right, that soldiers had died to protect.
“So, how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up,” Palin added, in a remark aimed at the press.