ABC-TV has kicked its Sarah Palin damage control into high gear. It released raw footage of the Dancing with the Stars segment that purportedly proves that Palin was not booed when she was introduced to the crowd. The audience's boos supposedly were for a disputed score to another pair of dance contestants. But wait; respondents to the ABC/Palin repair job hotly dispute the network. They make a pretty convincing case that she was indeed booed when she came out on stage and that if indeed the boos were solely over the unpopular score then the boos would have continued during the whole judges ratings. There was a four second delay before the booing occurred in relation to when the judges were finished, enough time for Palin to walk on stage.
The capper to this was the audience members that booed. When asked, they were adamant that their boos were directed at Palin. So why then the rush by ABC to clean up yet another in the telephone-book-thick list of Palin's dismal acts? She's hot media copy, and network execs are biting their nails at their see saw, up and down, mostly down, ratings They will do anything not to slay a cash cow. And Palin is definitely seen as money in the bank.
She's cowed the media. Her repeated taunt and jibe at the mainstream "lamestream" media as too liberal, too anti-Republican, too biased, and too sexist has hit home. That's caused many network executives to bunker down and tread carefully on any knock of Palin.
The third reason ABC tap dances around negative depiction of Palin are even more blatantly political. Palin has a big, boisterous, and fanatical following. They watch a lot of television, and they also are not gun shy about making it known that they won't tolerate any abuse of their beloved Palin. Her recent string of victories by candidates she endorsed in the primaries, and the flip-flop in some polls that now show more people than not say that she should run for president, and more than a few of them say that she should win, have jumped Palin's stock even higher.
Then there's the new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that shows that a crushing majority of Republican voters now back the Tea Party. Much of their roaring enthusiasm for the Tea Party can be tracked directly back to Palin and her willingness to pose as the national face of the Tea Party and be its biggest and most outspoken champion. ABC network executives are not politicians, at least not in the formal sense of the term. But like politicians they can count numbers and though they're not counting votes, they're counting viewers, and viewers are voters. As it now stands many of those viewers are Republican, and yes, lots of Republicans watch Dancing with the Stars, and have been contestants on the show (remember the two left footed disgraced former House Majority Spokesperson Tom DeLay). They adore Palin. Palin almost certainly was booed on Dancing with the Stars. But a fearful ABC is more than happy to dance around that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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