Sarah Palin Quotes Thomas Jefferson but Mangles Construct of Freedom of Press
The press fawned over Sarah Palin when she arrived at last night’s Time 100 Gala, stepping over themselves to get a photo of the Palin, who has not yet held a press conference or taken unscreened questions from the press. She took this opportunity to “set the record straight”, which in Sarah Speak, amounts to another one-way pronouncement comprised of her version of reality, much like her ghost-written Facebook scolds.
The Daily Intel reported:
“I did talk to a couple of reporters already and said that a bunch of stuff that they write is bogus, but we had a great conversation about it and we agreed to disagree on a lot of things,” she (Palin) said.
She chastised the press that they need to be writing the “truth” and then went on to clear up “the bogus reports about how much money I supposedly make,” she said. “I have a business. I run a business with my speaker’s fee.””
As usual, Sarah offers no proof to back up her claim and offers no rebuttal to the indisputable evidence offered against her claim, such as her speaking contracts with the Mall of America and the Stanislaus Foundation. This is the same Sarah Palin who was found guilty of abusing her power and violating Alaska ethic’s law, but who announced to the press that she was glad to be “cleared of any wrong-doing there.”
Palin has also been called to task for fraudulent tax returns, fleecing the tax payers of Alaska for several unethical rides, and had her Alaska Fund Trust frozen by the legislative board. Politifact named Palin Liar of the Year in 2009 for her Death Panels lie. In other words, Palin is not an honest person.
Palin tends to hide behind one-way communications with the public, which she calls talking “without the filter of the media”, but which remove the possibility of the press ever being able to question her about anything. This is not a new stance of hers, even though she tries to portray it as a reaction to the alleged poor treatment she received in the 2008 campaign. In fact, Palin has initiated press black outs since she was the mayor of Wasilla, during which time the local paper accused her of behaving as if she were Queen, not an elected official in America.
Palin used her toast to further establish her limited comprehension of freedom of the press, “I want to make a toast to all at this press event who agree with Thomas Jefferson, who said that our liberty depends on the freedom of the press,” she said. “So I want to lift a glass to those who defend that freedom. Our finest, the men and women in uniform who defend that freedom, our Constitution, and our exceptional way of life in America.”
Palin’s use of Thomas Jefferson is particularly hypocritical and disingenuous on the subject of freedom of the press. The truth is that Sarah Palin is terrified of the press, and that’s why she doesn’t take any unscreened questions, hold press conferences, or take interviews with any but the most friendly hosts whom happen to be her co-workers at a network which admits it is nothing but a PR extension of the Republican party. Sarah mangled her two big interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric in 2008, and has not faced the press since then.
The McCain campaign covered for her, and under the guise that the best defense is a good offense, accused that the press of being “sexist”. They followed this up with the poutraged announcement that Palin would not deign to give interviews until the press showed “deference” to her. Notice how the reference to Palin as royalty is a repeating theme, one I daresay Thomas Jefferson would not have appreciated from an elected official.
The press is not supposed to be kind, show deference, or pave the way for candidates or government officials. The press has a much different job, as prescribed by the Founding Fathers (whom Palin can not name). According to Wikipedia, “Thomas Jefferson wanted to unite the two streams of liberalism, the English and the French schools of thought. His goal was to create a government that would provide both security and opportunity for the individual. An active press was essential as a way of educating the population. To work freely, the press must be free from control by the state. Jefferson was a person who himself suffered great calumnies of the press. Despite this, in his second inaugural address, he proclaimed that a government that could not stand up under criticism deserved to fall.”
The differences between Palin and Jefferson are vast. Thomas Jefferson didn’t scold the press for attacking him or hide from the press. He understood that the press needed to criticize leaders in order to keep their power in check. Since she quoted Thomas Jefferson, let’s look at some more Jefferson quotes and see how they apply to Sarah Palin.
“[This is] a country which is afraid to read nothing, and which may be trusted with anything, so long as its reason remains unfettered by law.” –Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan, 1816. ME 14:463
Palin couldn’t name one newspaper she reads.
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57
Palin used her power as governor to publicly call for “backlash” against bloggers and constituents who filed ethics complaints in Alaska.
“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823. ME 15:491
Palin wanted to be President so she could have the Department of Law (sic, one assumes she meant the Department of Justice) go after anyone who crossed her.
“I am… for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.” –Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78
Why Palin does not talk to the press or take unscreened questions:
“Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light.” –Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart. 1799.
And lastly, on Palin’s job at Fox and refusal to take interviews with anyone who doesn’t work at Fox:
“The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers… [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of news writers who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.” –Thomas Jefferson to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785. (*) ME 5:181, Papers 8:632
Thomas Jefferson was prophetic; seems as if he almost saw Sarah Palin coming and went to great pains to warn us about the dangers of a person who tries to stifle freedom of the press. One can’t help but wonder when the mainstream media will get over fawning over their Cash Cow Princess and start doing their jobs as agitators and protectors of liberty.
Note: In 2009, the countries where press was the most free were Finland, Norway, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark. The United States currently ties for 20th on the list with the UK.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.