Shades of Spiro

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

It’s getting nasty out there for members of the media on the trail with Sarah Palin.

This is from Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, from a rally on Monday in Florida.

“In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her ‘less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.’ At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, ‘Sit down, boy.’…

Nasty stuff.

On Saturday in Carson, Calif., I saw the same like of attack, with Palin’s mere mention of the New York Times inciting “boos” from the crowd. Then she went on to actually cite the Gray Lady for its story that same day on Bill Ayers. In other words, she is at once embracing the media and running against it.

Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew famously launched an all-out assault on the media during his tenure,  famously labeling the elitist press “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Of course, that couldn’t save him from a bribery probe, but it set the stage for enlisting the No. 2 to serve as the attack dog on the trail.

Obviously Palin is whipping her staunchest faithful into a frenzy, but I wonder whether it actually muddles her effort. Her message on the media, like that of the role of government, is contradictory. She is at once running against the New York Times and embracing it — leaving some in her crowds scratching their heads. After her rally in Carson, I walked up to two women from Newport Beach, each of them holding McCain signs. They were both attorneys, supported Hillary Clinton in the primary, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My first question: Is Palin getting a bad rap from the media? They looked at me somewhat quizzically, like it was an odd question to ask, and answered No.

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