Did you catch the Sarah Palin tour bus sweeping through America?
Sarah Palin boards her One Nation Tour bus, which stopped at historical sites between Washington and New England, including the Fox News HQ in New York.
In case you managed to miss it, let me bring you up to date: That motor vehicle represented the sum total of Palin's "message" so far for 2012 - namely, "I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere. So get used to it."
And, Palin might have added: "Listen, we all know I'm not going to be president in 2012, or ever. So what? You idiots in the media still treat me like I'm the presumptive candidate.' To quote Sally Field that time at the Oscars, 'You like me! You really like me!'"
Palin understands the media better than the media understand her - and that has been her special public-relations gift since she emerged from obscurity in August 2008. She is the message, not the words she speaks. When journalists take her seriously, they only add to her credibility. (Note: Palin has appeared as a contributor on the Fox News Channel, which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp. NWS -0.07%
The media first encountered this sort of media strategy in 1968 when Richard Nixon ran for president on a platform of going around the press corps to speak directly to the people in, what was for the times, a daring maneuver. Nixon showed that a candidate didn't have to pander to the Eastern establishment wing of journalism. Palin has polished up Nixon's approach and made it her own by concentrating on making pronouncements at her friendly rallies.
Sarah could preen a bit and add: "It's true. You do love me! And do you know why I am such a media presence? Because you good men and women of the press, Internet and television would miss me too much if I actually did go away, for good, back to Alaska and clipped coupons on the back porch in Wasilla."
"You know, and I know, that your viewers and readers can't get enough of me. Whatever nonsense I spew about Paul Revere, or whatever, to my acolytes in the tea party, the public eats it up."
Sigh. You know what? She'd have a valid point if she ever talked like that. Palin has the media right where she wants us: at her beck and call.
We're eager to fatten our television and radio ratings, newspaper and magazine circulations, and page-view counts online. We give America the news you want to read and watch.
And, if you desire a Palin fix every once in a while, we'll bring it to you. Palin recognizes this. That's why she so skillfully bypasses the media so often and brings her message to prospective voters at rallies. The bottom line: Sarah Palin knows how stupid you are.
She gets media coverage in the guise of a "candidate" even though she has given zero indication that she wants to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. The Democratic Party is salivating at the prospect of Palin or another tea-party opportunist getting the nod.
According to a CBS CBS +0.04%
News poll from earlier this week, "Most Republicans do not want to see former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin enter the presidential race."
The findings pointed out that 54% of Republican registered voters want Palin to stay on the sidelines, including 50% of tea-party loyalists. Only 34% of Republicans and 38% of tea-party followers want her to seek the Republican nomination. Read more about the poll
Of course, Palin's supporters might well whisper, what else do you expect from CBS, anyway? CBS, they believe, is a captive of Obama. And besides, as far as her backers are concerned, CBS's then-anchor Katie Couric was the journalist who sought to make Palin look bad during the 2008 campaign with her impertinent questions during a televised interview.
Palin can take comfort, somewhat, from observing that 37% of the Republicans surveyed by CBS News have a favorable opinion of her, compared with the 36% who have an unfavorable view, and the 25% who have no opinion.
Among all voters, 21% like her and 57% don't, the poll reported. For now, Mitt Romney appears to have the inside track, though it is early in the game, and Romney has failed to excite the media or the voters.
Until a Republican candidate catches fire, expect the media to continue to follow Palin's every utterance.
Journalists have had a flirtation with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. But it hasn't lasted long. Bachmann doesn't truly threaten Palin's hold on the media because Palin is so well established by now.
Palin has us right where she wants us.