Inside the Beltway: The Palin mystery

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There are nine governors and former governors set to entertain the Grand Old Party when the Republican National Convention gets rolling in Tampa, Fla. a mere 17 days from now. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — despite her vigorous message, cool shoes, Supergirl T-shirt, and knack for transfixing any and all media — is not on the roster. Yet. The press has noticed, and is eager to frame the situation as a mystery, an allegory, a rift among Republicans, or as evidence that Mitt Romney is leery of being upstaged by Mrs. Palin, or Donald Trump for that matter.

Among the headlines from assorted news organizations this week: “GOP asking for trouble if Palin doesn’t speak” (The Washington Post), “Sarah Palin: odd woman out?” (Salon), “Palin’s role at the convention still a mystery” (New York Daily News), “Romney, GOP: Call 911 and ask for Sarah Palin” (the Bayou Buzz).

Perhaps the Romney campaign should consider launching another phone app that will alert the public when the decision is made. Many are watching. Among those who champion an appearance by the well-shod Mama Grizzly: Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Newt Gingrich and even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Other observers ponder implications behind the absence of Rep. Ron Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, to name a few.

Meanwhile, here’s who’s actually on the official speaker’s list, all described as the party’s “brightest stars” by Mr. Priebus:

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olen, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rick Santorum, Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz of Texas.

ANCHORMAN AL

No polar bears this time, but one never knows: Al Gore will be leading Current TV’s coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, joined by a motley cast determined to land the cable network on public radar. Joining Mr. Gore, who incidentally founded the network six years ago: Jennifer Granholm, Eliot Spitzer , “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and contributors David Shuster, Michael Shure, Joy Behar and John Fugelsang.

Mr. Gore deems it an “impressive line-up” and predicts the coverage will be “innovative and informative.”

A MOST AGREEABLE NEWT

“I am determined to do everything I can to defeat Barack Obama, who I regard as a direct threat to my two grandchildren’s future. I think a second term by Obama will be an absolute disaster This has got to be Mitt Romney’s campaign. He is the nominee. It has got to fit a rhythm and pattern he believes in. But within that framework, I’ll do anything I can to be helpful to them.”

- (Newt Gingrich, during a Republican National Committee conference call Wednesday.)

LEISURE READING

“Congress can launch investigations, hold hearings, or otherwise make real news, but journalists have repeatedly ignored or dismissed the Obama scandals,” say analysts Tim Graham and Geoffrey Dickens of the Media Research Center, who painstakingly pored over broadcast coverage of “Fast and Furious” and other controversies that have emerged from President Obama’s administration. There’s a “media miracle” afoot, the pair say, and some “stunning” omissions on behalf of ABC, CBS and NBC.

“Scandal coverage has long been an ideological thing. That begins with the assertion that there are zero Obama scandals for journalists to cover. In the Bush years, the TV networks and national newspapers thought most of what President Bush did was a scandal,” Mr. Graham and Mr. Dickens point out. See their research here: www.mrc.org.

Perceptions can differ: The New York Times labeled Mr. Obama the informal “news media critic in chief” on Tuesday, citing his appetite to read and critique coverage. “He has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security,” the newspaper said.

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