Sarah Palin's Alaska: You know you want to watch it(Read article summary)
The new reality TV show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" premiers Sunday night. Palin's image has been slipping lately, according to recent polls. Will her new show change that?
Gilles Mingasson/Discovery Communications/AP
Sarah, Todd, and all the Palin kids hanging out at home or showing us Alaska‚Äôs natural wonders as backdrop to their vigorous outdoor life. Maybe even a peek into her home broadcast studio where she talks on-air to the guys back at Fox News. Hey, Bristol might show us a few of her "Dancing with the Stars" samba moves!
What‚Äôs not to like?
Like all ‚Äúreality‚ÄĚ shows, it‚Äôs largely scripted. But we don‚Äôt care. Former governor Palin ‚Äď who‚Äôs been stirring up American politics ever since she rocketed from political obscurity to become the Republican vice presidential candidate and then the tea party‚Äôs Mama Grizzly ‚Äď often seems unscripted anyway. So what passes for ‚Äúreality‚ÄĚ may actually be reality. (Or the other way around. I‚Äôm not sure.)
Palin‚Äôs reality TV ploy has kept political pundits guessing about her motive.
‚ÄúWhy she thought that was a good idea, considering that she complained regularly about the media‚Äôs intrusion into her family life when she was John McCain‚Äôs running mate in 2008 (while, at the same time, frequently putting her children on display), is a mystery,‚ÄĚ writes Nancy Franklin in the New Yorker. ‚ÄúMoreover, you might ask, how seriously will people take her as a political candidate ‚Äď a Presidential candidate ‚Äď once she has participated in a reality show?‚ÄĚ
The first part is easy: Palin has complete control of the situation. The kids are on-screen when she (and, presumably, Todd) wants them to be. Her image ‚Äď love it or hate it ‚Äď will remain intact, maybe even be improved upon.
‚ÄúAppearing on your own reality show ‚Ä¶ I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of ‚Äėthat helps me see you in the Oval Office,‚Äô ‚ÄĚ Rove told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, also suggesting that Palin lacked the "gravitas" to be elected president in 2012.
But if the midterm elections proved anything, it was that ‚Äúgravitas‚ÄĚ ‚Äď typically associated with Washington insiders ‚Äď is not necessarily at the top of voters‚Äô lists. It may be a suspect attribute, in fact.
If Palin is serious about seeking elective office, as she hints she may do ‚Äď or even just keeping her lucrative writing, lecturing, and broadcast career going ‚Äď then image is all.
That could be a problem.
A Gallup survey out this past week shows Palin‚Äôs unfavorability rating at 52 percent ‚Äď the highest it‚Äôs been since she joined McCain on the Republican presidential ticket two years ago. Her 40 percent favorability rating ties her previous lowest score.
Not surprisingly, she rates higher with Republicans (80 percent) than with Democrats (15 percent) or Independents (35 percent). This leads Gallup‚Äôs Lydia Saad to conclude that Palin ‚Äúis clearly in a strong position‚ÄĚ to seek the presidential nomination in 2012, but her overall unfavorability rating ‚Äúcasts some doubt on her viability in the general election.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, Palin is ‚Äúthe most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.‚ÄĚ In reporting the poll, which included questions about other GOP presidential hopefuls, the AP calls Palin ‚Äúthe best-known and most divisive of the bunch.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBest-known‚ÄĚ is good, ‚Äúdivisive‚ÄĚ is bad.
It remains to be seen whether ‚ÄúSarah Palin‚Äôs Alaska‚ÄĚ will change any of that. But Palin is betting it will as millions of Americans tune in. In any case, it‚Äôs really, really good image massaging at no cost to her.
‚ÄúBased on projected [viewer] deliveries and estimated [advertising] spot costs, Palin could receive as much as $2.25 million in free media exposure per episode, or $18 million for the entire series,‚ÄĚ writes Anthony Crupi on Adweek.com. ‚ÄúIn other words, if Palin were to make a run for the White House in 2012, TLC will have gifted the world‚Äôs most famous hockey mom with an unprecedented tide of soft-focus campaign support.‚ÄĚ