Sometimes our life experiences come in handy. This is one of those times.
Who can forget Ms Palin’s endless mocking of President Obama for using a teleprompter and her cutesy way of referring to her hand notes (her three ideas for America were apparently hard enough to recall that they had to be written down for her) as the “poor man’s teleprompter”. And on every forum where some brave fool dares to write about Palin in a less than salivating manner, regardless of the actual issue at hand, a Palin fan comes to mock teleprompters.
At a Tea Party speech, Ms Palin mocked the President by saying, “This is about the people, and it’s bigger than any one king or queen of a Tea Party, and it’s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.” You must fill in the requisite sneer for full effect. The implication is that the President is a moron for using a teleprompter. This is made clear by the Right’s gleeful picking up of this meme and running with it at every turn, especially when they have nothing relevant over which to criticize the President.
Before we get any further into this story, I need to preface it by referring to my own work experience in film and TV. Some of that experience was behind an anchor’s desk, so I share Obama’s great sin in having used a teleprompter though I don’t recall turning into a Commie directly after it. Perhaps it’s too soon to tell.
So anyway, last week while watching “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”, I could have sworn I saw a teleprompter on her home studio camera, but I didn’t care enough to do a screen grab. After all, there are so many lies to deconstruct and so little time. But then last night, as I was watching the latest episode (which I must confess is now a fun distraction from her tweets), she was showing us her studio in the house she built next door to her home on Lake Lucille. Sarah and Todd were making a show of how it was just the two of them putting on her little show. And while she made cute and Todd told her her hair was above his pay grade, I saw the evil socialist machine staring me down, clear as day. So clear that I could read the logo. Yes, a teleprompter.
Who makes Ms Palin’s teleprompter? Autoscript. The number one selling teleprompter. The gold standard in teleprompters. The elite, if you will, of teleprompters. The farthest cry from the “poor man’s teleprompter” as you can get. You know, the one that the evil lame stream media use at no less than NBC studios:
“Autoscript is currently facilitating NBC with studio and portable on-camera teleprompter systems with high-bright LED backlit monitors, as well as WinPlus-NX news-prompter software, during the network’s coverage of the Vancouver Winter Games….
Autoscript also designs all of the different software packages that drive its teleprompter systems. Autoscript teleprompting software features multi-tasking functions, including the ability to simultaneously prompt and edit, run multiple scripts, change the run-order, mix fonts, and change the font size. Autoscript’s WinPlus-NX news-prompter software provides seamless integration to all major newsroom-computer systems.
WinPlus NX software can operate in a number of modes, depending on the design of the newsroom-computer system it’s being used with. Autoscript’s software also works with a variety of control devices, enabling prompter operators to control the system using a desktop control, foot control, wireless hand control, or Autoscript’s unique Voice-Plus voice-activated software to pace the script. WinPlus NX software can also send the prompted text to a Closed Caption encoder.”
Now what in heaven’s name can a paid contributor who is only on the air for a scant few minutes and who’s been given the questions in advance need a teleprompter for? Yes, Ms Palin requires that all questions be given in advance. And of course, the teleprompter kinda gives that away because it would be impossible to load it up with a script if Ms Palin didn’t know what she was going to be asked in advance. Um, well, here’s what happens when Sarah Palin doesn’t have a teleprompter. Notice how she can’t remember her three ideas for America so she has to check her hand:
And her hands reads: “Energy,
Budget Tax Cuts, Lift American spirits.”
Or perhaps because one is attempting to avoid another embarrassing moment like the Couric interview or the Gibson interview, during which Ms Palin froze and the flop sweat broke out on her upper lip as she stammered for a non-answer. A teleprompter covers the sputtering non-answer and allows Ms Palin to converse about topics she knows little about.
Palin flop sweat:
And for those who don’t know, when using a teleprompter there are all kinds of neat tricks to help the talent: you can have the names of Iraqi officials phonetically spelled out, you can have smiley faces put in when you’re supposed to be happy, you can have text bolded to place emphasis on it. In fact, there are so many tricks that you can almost read the script for the first time on the air if you choose. If you’re good at it, that is. Although most professionals will at least do a cursory glance to get the flow of the piece before taking to the air and those with a work ethic will want to understand the topics they’re speaking to their audience about.
This might be a good time to take a walk down memory lane to the 2008 RNC convention.
“ST. PAUL—Interesting bit of myth-making, mistaken reporting or both. Did Sarah Palin’s TelePrompTer malfunction? A very little bit, but not much.
RedState is reporting that Sarah Palin’s TelePrompTer broke last night, scrolling “significantly from where Governor Palin was in the speech.” Politico’s Jonathan Martin disputes the report. “Perhaps there were moments where it scrolled slightly past her exact point in the speech,” Martin writes. “But I was sitting in the press section next to the stage, within easy eyeshot of the Teleprompter. I frequently looked up at the machine, and there was no serious malfunction. A top convention planner confirms this morning that there were no major problems.””
Myth making indeed. That is a talent Ms Palin has developed to a finely honed skill. Like the myth that little poor Ms Palin, the hockey mama, doesn’t use a teleprompter. She’s too “real” for that.
As for the RNC teleprompter myth, little hiccups are normal — especially because on the older systems, whoever is running prompter had to anticipate the speaker’s rhythm, so if the speaker changes or pauses, the prompter operator might need a second or two to catch up or slow down. I’ve also been responsible for running a teleprompter; and I can attest that things don’t always go smoothly. Software can malfunction or the computer can just pause for a second. But of course this happens to everyone who uses it, not just Ms Palin – and so far, no one else has been hailed as a mythical warrior for managing to ride it out.
This is one reason why it helps if the person is somewhat familiar with their script, and why it helps if the person can talk freely about the subject at hand. The teleprompter can help a speaker who’s under a lot of pressure remember words, key phrases, and jog their memory or it can be used as a complete crutch when you don’t know your script. It’s simply a tool, and a ridiculous criticism to hurl at someone. Only people who aren’t in the business would even buy this as a criticism. But of course, that’s Ms Palin’s audience.
Not only does this put a wee dent in Ms Palin’s constant mocking of Obama for using a teleprompter, but it should also be noted that the myth she sold on her show of just she and Todd doing her little show is simply not possible. Here’s the deal (and probably one reason why she didn’t want Joe McGinness to see over that fence): It takes at least three professionals to run the small set-up they have: A camera operator (who will also adjust lights even if the lights are pre-set as they are in most studios), a prompter op, and someone in the control room (like a producer) to watch the monitors for problems, monitor the sound, and make sure the talent doesn’t go off script.
And this doesn’t cover the professional make up artist and hair stylist, or the wardrobe stylist. Or the production assistants. And it is very obvious that Palin is getting her hair and make up done, at the very least. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s simply another thing she’s not being authentic about. Even the ex First Dude can’t do all of those jobs simultaneously, assuming he could magically learn all there is to learn about running a camera and loading the prompter and getting it to flow with the speech patterns of the speaker (lord help whoever is running hers).
Frankly I couldn’t care less if she uses a teleprompter. It’s a good tool for on air talent and politicians and there’s nothing wrong with it. What I have a problem with is that once again, Ms Palin is selling a myth that simply isn’t true and in the process she mercilessly mocks a good man, who has every reason to use a teleprompter because he’s a bit too busy running the country to memorize speeches, although I deeply suspect he spends more actual time writing and editing his speeches than does Palin. And goodness knows, Palin has free time on her hands now since she quit her job as governor to pursue her TV career.
The unveiling of this lie goes to the content of her character. And once again, Ms Palin flops when it comes to accuracy, integrity and honesty.
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.