There were basically two things known about Sarah Palin when her name was announced on Aug. 29 and the mediasphere began to shudder and pulsate: She was a recently elected governor and the mother of five children including a handicapped infant. The scorn from the mainstream press and the left-leaning blog world was both intense and instantaneous. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic immediately began circulating rumors that Trig was not the governor's baby -- that she had engaged in a huge charade to cover up her teen daughter's illegitimate child. The New York Times reported on the front page that Palin had been a member of the Alaska Independence Party. Eleanor Clift of Newsweek described the reaction of most newsrooms to Palin's elevation as "literally laughter." US Weekly rushed out a cover story picturing Palin holding her baby son with the headline "Babies, Lies, & Scandal."
And that was just the throat-clearing phase. NBC's Brian Williams wondered whether she could discharge her responsibilities with all those kids. Sally Quinn of the Washington Post asked, "Will she put her country first, or will she put her family first?" Mort Kondracke called her a "wacko right-winger."
Now it hardly needs mentioning that Brian Williams and company would sew their own lips closed before ever uttering such heresy about a liberal woman candidate. Nor would it even occur to them to question any male candidate's fitness because of the number of children he had.
How do the media poobahs explain it? They say (and to her credit, Sally Quinn has apologized for her comments) that it was Palin's inexperience that prompted their contempt. But aren't these the same people who had just the week before been defending Barack Obama's thin resume?
Something about Sarah Palin set them off before their own politically correct impulses ("Must Avoid Sexism") could inhibit them. By the ferocity of the response, you might have thought Palin was a secret member of a polygamous cult or had forced her daughter to give birth after a rape. But no, she was just the mother of five, hunting, fishing, NRA member, and governor.
I wonder if it was that baby.