More Old Media Hypocrisy on Palin’s Book Deal


By: Warner Todd Huston

On his MSNBC show Hardball for May 13, Chris Matthews gleefully attacked Goveror Sarah Palin for hiring a ghostwriter for her upcoming book deal. In like fashion, Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp Blog has also gotten into Laugh-at-Palin’s-book mode so you can bet that this will be the scoff du jour among the left-media. But, the thing that proves the Old Media’s hypocrisy and partisanship is this “collaborator” angle. The media are going nuts that Palin is working with what is essentially a ghostwriter — though an upfront one, not a hidden one — and acting as if this is somehow unusual. But it simply is not.

Few politicians that have books published under their name ever themselves put pen to paper. Politicians are generally not writers and it is completely common that they hire actual writers to do the heavy lifting of composing their book. But here is both Matthews and Silva acting as if Palin is the only one ever to do it.

Heck, sometimes politicians never even read the book that bears their name just allowing their name to be affixed to the cover and letting it go at that. Barry Goldwater, for instance, is famous for having hinted that he never read the famous book that bears his name. The Conscience of a Conservative was actually ghostwritten by Brent Bozell, Jr., father of L. Brent Bozell III currently of the Media Research Center.

Regardless of the truth, however, this Tribune hack really takes the cake. Here is how Mark Silva starts off his rant:

Reading her face, like a cover, one might think Sarah Palin is a little young to have enough material for “a memoir.”

Might I suggest that a similar opening sentence might be presented for another famously young politician with a book deal?

Reading his face, like a cover, one might think Barack Obama is a little young to have enough material for “a memoir.”

… and yet, Obama has two memoirs! Did Mark Silva make fun of Obama? Bet you can answer that one without my assistance.

Next the partisan Silva goes into the “hired writer” aspect of the story.

So the Republican hockey-mom-pitbull-grandma-national-political-prospect, with the help of a hired writer, is setting out to set her story straight.

And a few lines later Silva hits the point again… you know, just in case someone missed it a few lines before.

Hired writer or no, the author of the memoir plans to put her own touch on the text.

So why the harping on the “hired writer” factoid? Why else but to hammer home the idea that Palin can’t write it for herself? Why else but to place the seed of ridicule in the mind of the reader?

But, as I was saying, the list of those politicians that wrote their own books is very, very small. In fact there are at least two prominent book sellers whose names appear on covers of books written by ghostwriters that Silva has probably never once scolded for having a “hired writer.” Those two are Bill and Hillary Clinton. Add to that John Kerry, Al Gore and every other extremist lefty favorite pol that is famous for “their” books and you’ll get a left-wing list that Silva has mysteriously never shaken his writerly finger at.

In 2007, for instance, I chronicled a much worse “collaborator” story that the Old Media itself completely ignored. Of course, that story was all about the time Hillary Clinton had a ghostwriter for her “award winning” book, It Takes a Village. And the story didn’t stop at just the fact that Hillary didn’t write a word of her famous book, but it roiled on further as she tried to keep credit from the woman that actually wrote the thing.

So, I have to ask: will Mark Silva chide Hillary for not only having a ghostwriter, but for stiffing the actual writer of credit? Somehow I’ll have to guess that Silva will avoid the tale. No, it’s much better to hold Palin to a standard that he won’t hold anyone else to.

Just to recap what happened on Matthews’ Hardball show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Plus Sarah Palin –- now don’t laugh –- is writing a book. Not just reading a book, writing a book. Actually in the word of the publisher she’s “collaborating” on a book. I love the way that sounds. Does that mean she answers questions of the writer and then the writer writes the book? I guess the reason to have someone to write a book for you and claim it’s your book is to get to do a nationwide book tour and act the part of a, of an author yourself. Well she’s not the first person to pull that number. Sarah Palin – author! In tonight’s Politics Fix…What is Sarah Palin up to?….She’s got this book deal, she obviously is not gonna write it. They’ve already announced somebody is, she’s gonna collaborate on it. What an embarrassment! It’s one of these “I told you,” books that jocks do. You know she’s already declared, I mean, why they do it like this? “She can’t write, we got a collaborator for her.”

Finally, let me contrast all this “hired writer” scoffing with a bit of news from the May 18 issue of the Weekly Standard. It seems that a fellow named Quinn Bradlee has just issued a “memoir” of his own. The 26-year-old has been celebrated in various Old Media outlets as a promising young man that has something to say.

Only he didn’t. Say it, I mean. Our young Mr. Bradlee didn’t say it because he actually had his book ghostwritten for him by a fellow named Jeff Himmelman. So what you ask? Well, as it happens, Quinn Bradlee is the son of Benjamin Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, and Sally Quinn, former Post Style editor and current co-moderator of a Washington Post blog called On Faith.

So, are we going to see Mark Silva poking accusing fingers at Quinn Bradlee for his inability to write his own book? Is Silva going to wonder if the 26-year-old Bradlee is “old enough” to have anything to say in a memoir? Can we expect Matthews to say how “embarrassing” this Bradlee offspring is?

Just wondering.

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