ON the heels of yesterday's rant, La Palin turns up for her third visit to Indiana, which is to say her third book-hawking in Hamilton County, Indianapolis' restricted country club, and the local news hairdos treat the thing like an Erik Estrada sighting. In contradistinction to the President's visit last week, which was turned over to the political reporters, Palin was covered by the news crews (8 sent one of its six anchors, coincidentally, I'm sure, the same one who lobbed puffballs at the corpse of Fred Thompson in her '08 exclusive).
Which is to say that they sent reporters to cover the grand spectacle of a couple hundred white people lining up to buy a book. And held out microphones so a select few--one with "Palin 4 Prez" written on his forehead--could let us know whether or not they liked her.
8 did eventually bring on Jim "The Dean Broder of Local Pundity" Shella, who offered the stunning insight that Presidential politics is often about celebrity. (No, really; that's as close to a political analysis as he dared come.)
And lemme just say this: I'm not really too fond of this Dueling Media Bias stuff. It's awfully easy to see what you believe; in fact it's damned near impossible not to. The point isn't that there's a conscious personal bias, though there certainly is some. The point is that there's no seeming awareness of the solid reasons, as well as the ethical obligation, for simply being fair. This is greatly magnified on the local level, and, of course, it's made much worse by news management and self-congratulatory appeals to ratings. Jim Shella is a comfortable white suburbanite. His employer is licensed to use the public airwaves to serve the population of the city of Indianapolis, not the Ultima Thule and The Woods of the Ultima Thule subdivisions where its white population fled. The city of Indianapolis is 25% African-American; furthermore, that community has a long and storied history: the third-oldest African-American newspaper in the country, the Klan takeover of state and local government in the 20s, de jure segregation in the schools and de facto segregation everywhere else, a lively history in the Arts, and the dilution of the inner-city vote, and the near-abandonment of its schools, by the Dick Lugar-led unification of local government in the late 60s. Shella displays no knowledge of this. Neither do the other stations' political reporters. It is, instead, just another special interest group after tax dollars. There's precisely one African-American reporter on local teevee with career longevity who gets to do political stories. The rest of the "minority" presence on air is basically talent hired from elsewhere.
And that includes the woman who tossed it to Shella two weeks ago when Al Sharpton came to town as part of an ongoing effort in response to the police beating of a fifteen-year-old kid last May. She got to hear Sharpton described, repeatedly, as "controversial" (assuming she bothers to pay attention.) Another anchor would later remark that Sharpton had some "surprisingly conciliatory" comments about the police. Or Da Police.
This is the world these people inhabit: not just one where Al Sharpton's middle name is Controversial, and Sarah Palin is a celebrity, freed from responsibility for the things she says, but one where there's no apparent awareness that anyone could possibly see it any differently.
And I have no idea what prodigies of cancer of the bowels an African-American woman feels while she reads off a teleprompter under such conditions. I only know that it isn't supposed to work that way, and that we're much the worse because of it.