Addressing (and Parodying) Criticisms of the ‘Eastern Media Elite’

“On a mission to destroy.” “On a witch hunt.” “Got it wrong.” “Tackier than a costume change at a Madonna costume.”


These are just some of the criticisms that have been used to describe journalists and their coverage of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Last week, Republicans called out The New York Times for an article it published about Palin and her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy, saying the paper used the pregnancy news as “fodder for political purposes.”

The Times‘ public editor, Clark Hoyt, points out that journalists were just doing their job: reporting the news and educating readers about Palin’s background. In an article in Sunday’s Times, Hoyt addressed concerns about the Times‘ coverage and rightfully admitted to a mistake the paper made regarding the lack of an attribution. He described the articles being criticized, saying:

“The drip-drip-drip of these stories seems like partisanship to Palin’s partisans. But they fill out the picture of who she is, and they represent a free press doing its job, investigating a candidate who might one day be the leader of the Free World.”

Thank goodness for public editors who can serve as the liaison between the public and the press and, when necessary, clarify and explain why journalists do what they do. It’s important to listen to people’s criticisms of the press because they’re often valid. Other times, though, they’re unfounded or unfair and stem from a misunderstanding of news organizations’ intentions and purpose.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post also responded to recent attacks on the “Eastern media elite” in this video, in which he parodies the idea that journalists are among the “elite.” It’s pretty funny. Journalists will especially enjoy it because they know that a journalists’ job is anything BUT glamorous. Crappy pay, ever-changing hours, cubicles instead of offices, late nights on deadline … the passion definitely has to be there to want a job like this.

New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich offers this bit of advice to the “elite”: “Thicken that skin of yours and develop a good sense of humor.” It seems Milbank and hopefully others are doing just that.

Weigh in: How well do you think the press has handled its coverage of Palin?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

2 thoughts on “Addressing (and Parodying) Criticisms of the ‘Eastern Media Elite’

  1. I enjoy reading your blog, by the way.

    It’s difficult to quantify how papers cover something that has little precedent. Perhaps comparing media coverage of Palin to media coverage of Hillary Clinton would be a start, but even that is unfair. When something is a story and people are interested in it, the media should respond appropriately.

    To me, I think it’s just like the Republicans to jump on every potentially condescending word about Palin and characterize it as derogatory. That fits right into the self-righteous notion they love to promote.

    Also, a question about whether Palin could be both VP and a mother of five. For all the defensive responses that the Republicans are giving to this, I find it tough to find anyone who has actually made this criticism public. Is this a response to a phantom attack?

  2. Thanks for tuning in!

    You raise an interesting question about whether Palin could be both vice president and a mother of five. It’s interesting to see how much attention Palin is getting not as a politician, but as a mother.

    The demands and responsibilities of having five kids are huge, let alone when you’re the vice president of the United States. In some senses, Palin is a role model for working moms who are struggling to balance work and parenting. At the same time, others are left wondering: Can she handle it?

    But let me ask this: If we were dealing with a male vice presidential candidate who had five kids, would we be asking the same question?

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