Twitter and the Cowardice of Sarah Palin

When I joined Twitter in July 2006 I was the 3,365th person to sign up for the 140-character
message streaming social network. Now, with more than 190 million
having taken the plunge, I guess you could call me an early adopter
of sorts.

See, I've always believed that the Internet -- and by
extension new online tools like Twitter -- have the ability to create change
because it levels the political playing field tearing down walls that have
traditionally separated the powerless and the powerful.

It turns out I may have been wrong -- at least when it comes
to a certain half-termer from Alaska.

Since prematurely leaving the Last Frontier State's
governorship in 2009, Sarah Palin has avoided potentially devastating repeat
performances of her sit-down disasters from 2008 with Katie
and Charles
by rarely if ever subjecting herself to questions from serious

by her role as a Fox News contributor, Palin instead turns to Twitter and
Facebook to communicate with the legitimate media. Rather than tearing down the
walls that shield the powerful, the medium is instead being used as a cudgel of
self-preservation by Palin.

It was especially evident during the health care reform
debate last summer when Palin claimed
on Facebook that "Obama's 'death panel'" could decide the fate of her
son who has Down syndrome or her parents. Repeated frequently by right-wing
politicians, bloggers, talk radio hosts, and Fox News personalities, the
assertion quickly became conservative conventional wisdom.

It mattered little that the non-partisan described
such claims as "a ridiculous falsehood." In the months following the
"death panel" lie Palin was able to skate on by with the press returning time
and again to breathlessly report her latest online musings despite her
documented track record of misinformation.

For a medium designed to increase communication between
people, Palin's use of these social networks has been remarkably one sided.

Perhaps sensing that he may only be able to land a sit-down
with Palin by propositioning her on Twitter, ABC News' Jake Tapper embarked on a days-long
to convince the former GOP vice presidential nominee to join him
for an on-air interview. Weeks later he remains unsuccessful in that mission.

Using Twitter, Palin also inserted herself into the debate
surrounding the proposed Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan -- the
"Ground Zero Mosque" as right-wingers call it -- making up a new word in the
process. She initially wrote,
"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does
ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."

After it was pointed out that "refudiate" isn't actually a
word, Palin compared herself to the Bard writing,
"English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too." She
then replaced her original post with an equally extreme sentiment, saying
"Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe
catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."

In other words, she sees all Muslims as a reminder of the
horrific 9/11 attacks.

Again, for Palin this was an act of one-sided communication.
She posted her views on Twitter and the press ran with it as news even though
she refused to engage with them on the substance -- if there was any -- of her

When Palin does avail herself for an interview it's usually
with the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Greta Van
Susteren -- her Fox News colleagues. Lord knows they've never pitched a
softball she wasn't able to hit over right field.

Laughably, Palin had the gall to
the "lamestream media" recently for supposedly failing to ask
President Obama "those basic questions" by which I'm assuming she means the
press hasn't been hard enough on him. The irony of such a charge was obviously
lost on her.

Palin often tells her followers
"don't retreat, instead reload!" Perhaps she should take her own advice and
"reload" for another round of interviews with real reporters who will ask her
"those basic questions."

Of course, I'm not holding my breath. Palin prefers to hide
behind her keyboard, showing her cowardice 140 characters at a time.

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