Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Palin coverage and the phantom quotes

Sarah Palin and her supporters complain bitterly about her treatment in the news.

And while it's not uncommon for controversial public figures to take issue with their critics, she has a point in one regard.

In her new book, Palin points out that she never uttered the most famous quote attributed to her - the great spoof on SNL in which Tina Fey chirped in wide-eyed excitement: "I can see Russia from my house!"

What Palin actually said was, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."

You can decide for yourself whether that's one of those differences without a distinction. Collections of Palinisms, like Daniel Kurtzman's "The 25 Most Devastating Quotes About Sarah Palin," are part of the landscape.

But Palin's shortcomings aside, any public figure deserves fairness. Deliberate misquotes aren't new, however, as Wisconsin blogger Ann Althouse notes in this post.

When she asked her readers to make up a sniglet for deliberate misquotes, two Althouse followers came up with real gems.

Someday, if they're not already, "malapropaganda" and "substiquote" could describe tactics in the Playbook of Dirty Politics.

- John Strauss


  1. I think this is pretty interesting, it also reminded me of what recently happened to Rush Limbaugh with his attempt to buy part of an NFL team. Reading some of the other links you provided here, when you compare some of the substiquotes to the real quotes, I find the examination very interesting when comparing them from the political Right or Left.

  2. Can you really say an SNL skit misquoting her is a problem? The last time I checked, SNL is about parody, not accuracy. It's certainly funnier to hear "I can see Alaska from my house" than the real quote.

    She's complaining about a misquote from SNL when her book has been ripped apart by fact checkers:

    I'm more worried about the phantom facts in her book than the phantom quotes she's concerned with.

  3. Rush Limbaugh had a far greater case to complain, though some of his real quotes weren't exactly comforting. Anyway, I get the sense that Palin is still under the impression that she's supposed to be able to say whatever she wants, and no one is supposed to criticize her or fact-check her on it. If anything, there's been admirable restraint by the so-called MSM in not just calling her out for having no there there. The reason her disapproval rating is so high is that interviewers like Katie Couric and Barbara Walters have allowed Palin to hang herself with her own rope.

  4. No "deal" is bad enough for her. Palin: quit now.

  5. Yeah, she doesn't have a point at all. SNL is parody. End of story.