A new Vanity Fair takedown disheartens an aged former editor who in his time has seen too many dreary “I didn’t get the story because nobody would talk to me” magazine profiles.
“Even as Sarah Palin’s public voice grows louder,” the magazine blurbs, “she has become increasingly secretive, walling herself off from old friends and associates, and attempting to enforce silence from those around her. Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits–a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family–and the sadness she has left in her wake.”
What follows the admission that “neither Palin nor her current staff would comment for this article” is a string of insights from former aides, “friends,” hotel bellhops and her about-to-be biographer Joe McGinniss, who has rented a house next door, which may or may not have a view of the Palins’ windows.
McGinniss was there at the dawn of peeping-Tom journalism with his “Selling of the President,” which in 1968 supplanted as a best-seller Theodore White’s meticulously reported series of “Making of the President” books during the Kennedy years.
The level of such reporting can be judged by his thesis then that Nixon’s media handlers were manipulative geniuses when, in fact, they managed to spend millions turning his 15-point polling advantage after the conventions into a November victory by less than one percent.
McGinniss’ book next year may very well make the Vanity Fair piece look like a valentine, but the meaning of both goes beyond the question of loving or hating their subject.
Sarah Palin, who has voluntarily made herself into a media creature by abandoning politics to make millions flaunting herself in public, is fair game as an object of reporting.