Sarah Palin may have made a career out of lambasting the lamestream media, but her appearance on NBC's Today Show Tuesday morning proves she needs it more than ever to keep that very career alive.
The former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential candidate joined Matt Lauer and Ann Curry on the morning news and talk show for self-deprecating humor, fluff and a little talk about politics -- all the while competing in a ratings battle with Katie Couric, who was guest-hosting ABC's Good Morning America at the same time.
in one of the more memorable moments of the morning, Lauer pointed out that Palin's presence technically makes her a part of the 'lamestream' media -- a term Palin has coined for mainstream news she claims has an unfair liberal bias.
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The irony of the morning was so obvious, it's painful. Where do I begin?
Four years ago, Palin had just been plucked from national obscurity to be Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential race, captivating the country with her electric charisma but shocking inexperience. She infamously flopped in a CBS interview -- with none other than former Today show host Couric -- by fumbling over which newspapers she read and her knowledge of the economy and foreign affairs.
Since then, Palin has been chastising reporters for gotcha questions that take sources off-guard in order to embarrass them. She quit public office in 2009 to become a celebrity pundit, was impersonated by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, continued to attract tens of thousands of supporters to Tea Party rallies and increased the ratings of Fox News (a channel she excludes from the mainstream media, although it continues to have the highest ratings of news television networks in the country). She even had a stint as a reality TV star on TLC's Sarah Palin's Alaska.
There's got to be the preparation on all the candidates' parts for those gotchas, Palin said of the Republican presidential hopefuls on Fox News last year. That's what the lamestream media's known for nowadays, it's the gotcha trip-up questions and you just have to be prepared for it and overcome it.
One of her more condescending remarks came when she claimed she just wanted to help political reporters. I have a journalism degree, that is what I studied, she said in a February interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. I understand that this cornerstone of our democracy is a free press, is sound journalism. I want to help them build back their reputation.
And as if in a full circle, Palin returned Tuesday to the very lamestream media that first spurned her in 2008, to the institution from which the journalist who tripped her gained fame.
The guest spot also generated even more interest because Palin would be going head to head in a ratings showdown with Couric, who was guest-hosting Good Morning America on ABC at the same time.
The Today show was sure to include references to that Couric-Palin 2008 interview. When Lauer introduced Palin, she was spotted in the couch reading newspapers -- poking fun of the moment when Palin was unable to name the newspapers she read. Ahead of the show during a promo, Lauer joked, What are you doing to prepare? Are you reading some newspapers?
Palin had responded by laughing. That's a fine how-do-you-do. That's a great start.
Palin did touch on politics, opining that the country needs anybody but Obama, and panned the new HBO movie Game Change, which portrays her as an inexperienced politician. I don't want to waste my time on false negatives, she said.
But most of her participation was light and safe, poking fun at Lauer for using hair products, talking about the challenges of raising teen girls, defending Jessica Simpson's body and explaining why she chose her outfit (she almost wore the same jacket she wore at an interview with Lauer four years ago! What a fashion faux-pas she avoided!).
It's safe to guess that NBC saw the opportunity to keep ratings ahead of GMA while Couric guest-hosted at ABC, where she's been a special correspondent since leaving CBS in 2011. A source told Fox News the Today staff was shocked their alumna was filling in for Robin Roberts for the week.
But why did Palin do it? To best Couric in a talk-show showdown? To spread her conservative message to another audience? To dabble in fluffy morning news?
For a pundit no longer in the public sector, the success of Palin's career depends on how long she can remain in the spotlight -- no matter how lame that media can be.
Below are other moments from the show: