By one man at least: Dana Milbank of the Washington Post used his column space at the end of last week as an opportunity for mild self-flagellation, admitting that since the 2008 election, he has written about Sarah Palin in 42 column and in “dozens more blog posts, Web chats, and TV and radio appearances.” He flat out calls it an “obsession,” one that both “cheapens and demeans” him. So he’s going to take a break for one month.
But today is the first day of the rest of my life. And so, I hereby pledge that, beginning on Feb. 1, 2011, I will not mention Sarah Palin — in print, online or on television — for one month. Furthermore, I call on others in the news media to join me in this pledge of a Palin-free February. With enough support, I believe we may even be able to extend the moratorium beyond one month, but we are up against a powerful compulsion, and we must take this struggle day by day.
Milbank finds support in a column from Ross Douthat of the New York Times, who argued in a column last Sunday that the media must “stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America.” And so Milbank is making a dare of it:
Let’s take it one step further. I call on Douthat (who has mentioned Palin in 21 of his Times columns since 2008, according to a Lexis-Nexis search, and in scores of blog posts) to join my moratorium — thereby forming a bipartisan coalition of The Post and the Times. I challenge columnists Eugene Robinson (33 Palin mentions), Paul Krugman (14), Kathleen Parker (30) and Maureen Dowd (45) to do the same.
I also call on Keith Olbermann (345 shows mentioning Palin) and Rachel Maddow (183 shows) of MSNBC, as well as Sean Hannity (411 Palin segments) and Bill O’Reilly (664 segments) of Fox News, to take the pledge. Will Politico — with 96 Palin items in the past month alone — join this cause? Will the Huffington Post, which had 19 Palin mentions on a single day last week — stand with me?
Obviously Politico and the Huffington Post are out (SEO rules everything around me), but here at Runnin’ Scared, a Palin-free month is a very real possibility. I mean, has Palin ever been to New York City? We have a selective memory. But that hasn’t stopped us from drooling in frustration over the woman and her family. A cleanse sounds nice, even if it won’t fix anything.
GOOD magazine’s culture blog writes today, “No promises that we won’t talk about Palin in February, but it’s probably important to remember that other people doing great things are overlooked all the time in favor of a woman who is now technically just a reality TV star.”
Me? I’m in.