If a Tree Falls in a Forest…

What would happen if the cable and broadcast networks stopped chasing Sarah Palin? What if they collectively decided her 15 minutes were up and she was no longer more than a future Jeopardy! answer and a desperate Presidential candidate’s bad decision?

I say this because Palin – like a 4th grader who repeats the same bad joke to every adult in earshot – continues to call the press the “lamestream media.” She purports to despise them, but the same time, she needs them. Desperately.

Let’s say she puts a video up online. Let’s say instead of every TV station putting it on air as if she’s shown up in the studio and sat for an interview, no one plays it. No one. She may still get attention online, but she no longer reaches far beyond her loyal minions. She gradually becomes less and less relevant. A niche product. If she wants to marginalize traditional media, why are they not marginalizing her right back?

She’s not smart. She’s not well-read. She’s not worldly. Her uninformed opinions don’t contribute to or elevate our national debate. She’s proven she’s completely tone deaf to the nuances of basic human decency. Her thoughts on matters of substance are comical, and she’s not an expert in anything other than self-promotion.

She was historically relevant during the last election. She’s not anymore. And if she doesn’t want to face the nation or meet the press or talk to anyone with any experience in journalism, she ought to be ignored by them altogether. News networks have no obligation to give her airtime, and yet they do. Straight, no chaser.

How about telling Palin that if she wants to reach people who watch TV news, she’ll have to step out of her climate-controlled bubble and take some questions? (No, sitting down with an anchor from a network that pays her to be their pundit doesn’t count.) And until then, she can be just another person with an opinion, a webcam, and an Internet connection. If people want to hear what she has to say, they’re free to Google her or follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook, and the rest of us can be done with her once and for all.

Don’t get me wrong. If she were informed or educated or her thoughts on anything leant substance to our collective national conversation, I’d be more forgiving. But she’s consistently wrong. Not just ideologically wrong. Factually wrong.

I know she has a following, and those people are more than welcome to fawn all over her all they want. That’s the joy of the Internet. There’s a home for everyone. But there used to be limits on what news networks would pull from the web and amplify on television. I know because I was that gatekeeper for years. It was my job to help filter out the unreliable, the inaccurate, and the crazy. When it comes to Palin, she craps all over the very megaphone she needs to be relevant beyond her base, and yet, the press keeps wiping off the megaphone and handing it back to her.

Now would a great time for the media to take a stand. They all could stand up, wave goodbye to the one-way Palin PR machine, and walk away.

Imagine all the extra airtime we’d have for substance and stories that matter.

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