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Sarah Palin rumors: Separating myth from reality

(Credit: Politirazzi)

The McCain and Palin clans hit St. Paul, Minn., today. (AP)

By Jeff

There have been a ton of rumors about Sarah Palin that have surfaced since she was announced as the Republican VP nominee. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; nobody had really heard of her until it was announced, and so the rush for manufactured news began. What is a surprise, is that the press has been publishing rumors and wild speculation before they spent any time actually fact-checking. The rumor gets in the public discourse, and since it’s so sexy and salacious, people keep repeating it. People hear the headline enough and assume it’s true. Those who follow the election superficially don’t hear the retractions or corrections and you get a group that has the facts wrong (call it the “Obama is a Muslim” corollary).

Let’s run down some of the worst cases of the mass media failing to do basic fact-checking. These are all original posts from large, mainstream media sources who should know better than to publish hearsay and unverified rumors.

Palin didn’t give birth to her youngest song, Trig. She faked her pregnancy to protect her daughter Bristol.

Originally, started on Daily Kos (who now has scrubbed any mention of the thread a week later so they don’t appear Rove-ian), but then picked up by Google’s Current.tv. Then the story started to get mentioned on MSBC, the Huffington Post and other media outlets as “a rumor.” This is what creationists call “teaching the controversy.” Although there is absolutely no proof to support the opinion, there are enough people talking about that it deserves coverage. No, it was completely baseless, and even filled with lies and intentionally misdated photos. It is shameful that anyone in the real press mentioned it.

Palin wants creationism taught in schools.

Not true. This is offensive reporting on Wired magazine’s part. The source they link completely contradicts their headline. If you read the source, you’ll see a more full explanation of her position:

In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.

(continued) Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independent Party.

(I’m linking DU, because the original ABC post has since been updated). Not true. She has been a registered Republican since 1982 (as an 18 year old), when she originally registered to vote. Her husband is an ex-member of the party, though. I’d imagine having a spouse who was a member of a party that talks about secession would be worse than what Michelle Obama said, right?

Palin wanted books banned at the local library.

Seriously? This is Time magazine? John Stein, the guy she beat for mayor (and who seemingly holds a grudge), claims Palin wanted to ban books at the library, and even though Time couldn’t get confirmation from the librarian in question, they print that inflammatory nugget anyway? TIME MAGAZINE? I have no idea if Palin wanted to ban books. If she did, it’s worthy of scandal. Especially if her desire to ban books in a public library was due to her religious beliefs. But, come on Time magazine, you can’t print such an attack without confirmation.

Palin slashed funding for teen moms.

Not true. The state grant funds were $1.3 million in 2006. The 2007-2008 budget was proposed for $5 million because Covenant House wanted to expand. Palin used her line-item veto to only increase it to $3.7 million. So now nearly tripling their allocation from 2006 is equivalent to “slashing”?

Palin wants abstinence-only education at schools and not “sex education.”

This is true. Though how it’s getting used to say she’s a hypocrite is confusing to me. I guess the assumption is that since Palin supports abstinence-only and her daughter got pregnant, she’s a bad mother and/or supports faulty education for children. Well, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services commissioned a study on abstinence-only education effectiveness and it showed that the effects of abstinence-only education was no different than other sex-ed options; meaning, not effective at all. This is no different than DARE, which is also a colossal waste of money. It’s not the 1950s anymore. Kids don’t live in a bubble about sex. The information is everywhere.

That isn’t a complete list, and some of the scandals currently in the press look like they may be potentially damaging (like her initially supporting the “Bridge to Nowhere,” her hiring a lobbyist to seek out earmarks and “Troopergate” appear to be the three most damning).

I certainly don’t want to come across like I’m carrying water for the McCain camp, but there have been so many rumors come out about Palin that are completely devoid of research. It’s been a really sad week for the press with them just throwing as much against the wall and seeing what has legs. The McCain camp deserves a lot of fault for this as well. Not merely for nominating someone so unqualified for the position of VP that nobody knows anything about her, but also for keeping her in a box for the last five days with no media contact.

Many of these lies would have never seen the light of day if the press had been given any access to Palin since Friday’s announcement. After she speaks tonight, hopefully the muzzle will be off and she’ll be willing to speak to the press more fully. Hopefully that will get the mainstream media to stop posting hearsay and unverified rumor just so they can get the headline a day before someone else.

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