With Murdoch’s help, Palin can ‘dance to the top of the Republican ticket’

Frank Rich has a well thought-out column about Sarah Palin’s chances in 2012. His conclusion: Yes she can.

Palin is on the top of her worlds — both the Republican Party and the media universe. “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” set a ratings record for a premiere on TLC, attracting nearly five million viewers — twice the audience of last month’s season finale of the blue-state cable favorite, “Mad Men.” The next night Palin and her husband Todd were enshrined as proud parents in touchy-feely interviews on “Dancing With the Stars,” the network sensation (21 million viewers) where their daughter Bristol has miraculously escaped elimination all season despite being neither a star nor a dancer. This week Sarah Palin will most likely vanquish George W. Bush and Keith Richards on the best-seller list with her new book.

If logic applied to Palin’s career trajectory, this month might have been judged dreadful for her. In an otherwise great year for Republicans she endorsed a “Star Wars” bar gaggle of anomalous and wacky losers[.] … But logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor.

Rich concludes that if Michael Bloomberg decides to send money down the drain in a Billionaire’s Run for the White House, “all bets on Obama are off.” A good column for your reading consideration.

But it’s the Rupert Murdoch aspect of the column that interests me. Palin is, to be sure, a creature of her own nature and these odd times. But she’s also a Murdoch creature, owned as all modern Republican candidates are, and paid through Fox News pass-through jobs and candidate-publicizing PR disguised as info-tain.

So what’s Murdoch’s goal? As Paul Krugman noted earlier (my emphasis throughout):

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.

Which leads us back to Rupert Murdoch’s business model. As I already said (with help from Andrew Cockburn):

We think of him as a propagandist, but he’s so much more. And he’s not primarily a propagandist; he’s a media monopolist whose market product is propaganda. Here’s his business model — he semi-monopolizes media in whatever country he gets into, and then sells propaganda services to government officials and hopefuls in exchange for increased monopoly control after they get elected.

With that in mind, here’s Frank Rich again:

Palin not only has TLC in her camp but, better still, Murdoch. Other potential 2012 candidates are also on the Fox News payroll, but Palin is the only one, as Alessandra Stanley wrote in The Times, whose every appearance is “announced with the kind of advance teasing and clip montages that talk shows use to introduce major movie stars.” Pity poor Mike Huckabee, relegated to a graveyard time slot, with the ratings to match.

The Fox spotlight is only part of Murdoch’s largess. As her publisher, he will foot the bill for the coming “book tour” whose itinerary disproportionately dotes on the primary states of Iowa and South Carolina. The editorial page of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is also on board, recently praising Palin for her transparently ghost-written critique of the Federal Reserve’s use of quantitative easing.

This leads to an interesting set of conclusions.

Palin’s goal: To put herself in her rightful place, as one “destined for greatness.” That would be wearing the crown of American empire. (Yes, she really did name herself, along with Reagan, Presley, Thatcher and Shaq, as “destined for greatness.”) Expect her to run; she’s already lined up her publicist.

Murdoch’s goal: Imagine the financial and media-monopolistic goodies he would scoop up if his world-wide machine provided successful propaganda services to someone of Palin’s ambition and self-confusion. She would be ever so grateful.

If Wasila comes to Washington, the whole world comes to Rupert Murdoch’s door. Expect him to open it, with terms in his hand.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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