Is the Press Unfairly Panning Palin?

Sometimes the media becomes the news. On a morning press call with RNC officials Tuesday, both reporters and Republicans openly questioned whether the press coverage of Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was fair.

The discussion was prompted by a reference to a front page NY Times piece alleging that Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party. The paper said today that it was given misinformation by that party’s chairwoman and corrected the story.

Party officials said they believed the media was deeply digging into Palin’s background and that Democratic VP pick Joe Biden had not received the same treatment, at least not yet. They hinted at media bias in the Times story. They also reaffirmed support for Palin, who will speak tonight at 9:30.

Palin, the first woman nominated to the VP spot, revealed her 17-year-old, unwed, daughter was pregnant shortly after her nomination was announced. The admission came days after intense speculation on prominent progressive political blogs, such as Daily Kos , that Palin was passing off her grandchild as her youngest son. Palin has maintained that, though her daughter is pregnant, her youngest is her baby.

The justification for focusing on the story of Palin's daughter's pregnancy, discussed on Kos' blog and others, is Palin's stringent opposition to abortion and advocacy of abstinence until marriage. Those who believe her son is her grandson also have made it an issue about character and truth telling.

But others say that the media is highlighting issues that would be ignored if Palin was not a woman. "Hillary Clinton's campaign complained about sexism in the media... and we are seeing now just how right she was," wrote Mitchell Blatt in his blog on media bias. "Not only are the networks trying to drag this story out, they are also saying Palin is neglecting her children by running for vice president. (Stay at home, women, preferably in the kitchen!)."

(Blatt is referencing a discussion on CNN about how taking care of a baby with down syndrome could impact Palin's presidency.)

First Lady Laura Bush has referenced sexism in the coverage of Palin saying that Democrats would have to be careful with what they say about the new VP nominee. On a page about Palin, McCain's election site prominently links to a Wall Street Journal piece titled

On the morning conference call, Republican officials insisted that Palin's gender had nothing to do with her nomination. They said she was chosen because of her record in Alaska, character, and beliefs.

For his part, Barack Obama asked supporters not to focus on Sarah Palin's family saying that the children of the candidates should be off limits.

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