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Palin speech is latest in GOP fight with media

Anti-news media demonstration on convention floor re-enacts 1964

Image: Sarah Palin
Charlie Neibergall / AP
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin waves to the crowd as she prepares to address the Republican convention.
Video: Decision '08  
Candidates focus on battleground states
Sep. 7: NBC political director Chuck Todd discusses the candidates' push to win the battleground states and the Republican party's reasons for not allowing Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to be interviewed.

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  RNC concludes
The final day of the Republican National Convention

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By Tom Curry
National affairs writer
updated 1:07 a.m. ET Sept. 4, 2008

Tom Curry
National affairs writer

ST. PAUL - In one sense, Day Three of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul was about the new and unprecedented, Sarah Palin, the first Republican woman ever to be nominated as vice presidential candidate.

But Day Three was also just the latest chapter in what is an old, old story: the GOP conflict with the news media, a clash the Republicans seem to revel in.

The Alaska governor dominated the night with a combative, folksy, strikingly personal and occasionally sardonic address to the delegates.

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Even in this age of “the personal is political,” it was a speech very much focused on her family, with references to her baby son, Trig, born in April with Down syndrome and cradled in her arms on stage after the speech, and her oldest son, Track, who is in the Army and being deployed to Iraq.

On the convention floor, where I stood near the Tennessee delegation, the most exuberant reaction came when Palin mocked Sen. Barack Obama’s work as a community organizer — a phrase she tinged with wryness, not quite the vintage sarcasm former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had used a few minutes earlier in his speech.

Mocking 'community organizer'
Just utter the words “community organizer” before a GOP crowd now and you’ll get a good laugh.

RNC Short Video
Image: walking tour of the RNC
Take a virtual walk 'round the floor
Glide around the floor of the Republican National Convention on Thursday night,  as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky performs the Adoption and Announcement of Nominee Sarah Palin.

The convention hall crowd also loved Palin’s remark that “the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of ‘personal discovery.’”

The Barack Obama portrayed by Giuliani and Palin was a self-important elitist, who once had what they regard as a fake job of community organizer.

“In small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening,” Palin added in a reference to an early Obama gaffe — drawing a huge roar from the crowd.

But the real excitement in the crowd in the Xcel Energy Center came as soon as Palin said of herself, “And I've learned quickly these past few days that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.”

Members of the Tennessee and Illinois delegations stood up and turned around to face the NBC booth a few feet behind them and started jeering and pointing their fingers at NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who genially smiled back.

The remarkable thing about this is that it exactly re-enacted what happened in 1964 (the year Palin was born) at the Republican convention in San Francisco. (Had some Republicans read the old newspaper clips?)

Exact replay of 1964 convention
At that 1964 convention, GOP nominee Barry Goldwater’s supporters burst into a spontaneous anti-news media demonstration on the convention floor when former President Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech urging them to “scorn the divisive efforts of those outside our family — including sensation-seeking columnists and commentators who couldn’t care less about the good of our party.”

Goldwater delegates shook their fists in anger at the television anchormen up in the glassed-in booths above the convention floor.

“There was considerable amount of hostility from the media against Barry Goldwater,” recalled California delegate Dr. Tirso Del Junco, 83, who was at that 1964 convention (his first) and has attended every Republican convention since then.

“I believe the media in this election has been more biased than ever before,” Del Junco added. “Even during the course of the Democratic primary there were signs of the biased media between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. That support, that ultra-protection of Obama, continues now going into the general election. It’s so obvious how prejudiced it is that it could very well backfire.”

The accusation of media favoritism has long been a motivational technique for Republicans.

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