Palin-Bashing in the Supermarket Checkout Line

“Babies, Lies & Scandal” screams the headline of this week's US Weekly, an entertainment tabloid sold in supermarkets around the country.  And no, Britney Spears isn't the cover girl; Alaska's governor and presumed GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is. And just to make it even more distasteful, she is holding her youngest child, Trig, who was born with Down Syndrome.

Not only is the cover of this week's US Weekly repugnant, the story inside that purports to hold “new embarrassing surprises” is really a tabloid attack based on information found at the liberal blog Huffington Post and a massively edited YouTube video featuring quotes from Palin taken out of context when she appeared on a popular radio program.  For more on the US Weekly story's content, see the
Newsbusters report here.

US Weekly is owned by Jann Wenner, a Hollywood liberal and a Barack Obama supporter and donor.  A recent US Weekly cover featuring the Obamas read 'Michelle Obama: Why Barack Loves Her' and features a shot of the couple embracing.

Fox News Live anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed columnist James Hirsen about US Weekly's double standard in magazine covers and Wenner's agenda.  Hirsen noted that magazine covers are “powerful ways of communicating” and that the liberals are clearly trying to define Palin “in a very negative fashion very quickly.”

HIRSEN: This is terribly unfair. One of the most powerful ways of communicating is through a combination of headlines and the pictures on the cover of a tabloid magazine like US Weekly that has 12 million, mostly female, readers. So it creates what, as you know in the law, is called a false light. The words 'lies' and 'scandal' are accompanied by the picture imply that it is one of those scandals you normally find in a tabloid, and it is highly irresponsible. And it happens to be published by the same publisher that owns The Rolling Stone, that contributed $5300 to Barack Obama's campaign since 2007.

KELLY: …This headline -- perhaps not to be trusted?

HIRSEN: It is absolutely not to be trusted. As far as reports that are currently out there, there is no scandal and no lies involved in this. And the other thing that's important to note is this is a critical period where the public is getting introduced to Sarah Palin, and these folks apparently want to define her early. The approach is very much like the approach they used on Dan Quayle and the approach they used on Clarence Thomas. And that's because this person represents a threat to their agenda and ideologies, partially because of the fact that she's a woman. But also partially because of the fact that her record and her story is so compelling that it has already created a powerful effect with the McCain campaign. Of course, it reduced the bump or possibly erased the bump in the polls that Barack Obama wanted out of the convention. This creates a great threat and they're focusing their energies and allies of the Obama campaign – possibly the Obama campaign itself- on defining her in a very negative fashion very quickly...

Hirsen also warned that having the US Weekly cover in supermarkets all over America “creates an impression and image” which is damaging and the McCain campaign “can't totally undo the damage of the powerful medium.” Referring to the stories contained in the tabloid and other negative attacks aimed at Palin and her family, Hirsen said Palin herself will have to “counter this greatly when she gives the speech that everyone is waiting for this evening.”

Kelly closed the interview by stating the image of Palin and her infant covered with the words “lies” and “scandal” tugs at the heartstrings.  “Your heart has to go out to her no matter what your political affiliation is.  This is just not done to candidates.”  Hirsen responded that he could not “recall a time that anything like this” had been done.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.