Sarah Palin's Alaska disinvited a media critic from its podcast this week — because organizers were worried about what Palin supporters might do if they got too riled up.
Jennifer Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back (from which we published an excerpt last month), was all set to appear on TLC's Talkback Live podcast after Sunday's episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska. Then Pozner wrote a blog post detailing her past and present criticisms of the show: "I've called it a series-long unpaid political advertisement, helping a potential presidential candidate brand herself in exactly the down-home, family-values-having, rugged individualist image she has always favored for herself and her family. I've also been extremely critical of the abject glee the show takes in depicting hunting and fishing in as violent a way as possible, complete with extended scenes of the Palins gutting bloody animals and aggressively beating fish to death with bats." And suddenly, Pozner was no longer welcome on the podcast. Is it because the organizers of the show can't handle anybody even mildly badmouthing Palin? Well, not exactly.
In a post about the Pozner incident, the show's social-media strategist Brian Reich wrote, "We canceled the interview because our planned conversation became, perhaps inadvertently, political." As Pozner pointed out on her blog, the idea that "I'm just too 'political' ... for a show about a former Governor and potential future Republican presidential candidate" is pretty ludicrous. But when I spoke to Reich, he acknowledged that "too political" isn't really the whole story. He explained to me that "the response to her blog post was ridiculously negative — and not negative in the appropriate ways, negative in ways that go way beyond what we're comfortable with." He added that ever since a gunman sparked a standoff at the Discovery Channel headquarters in September, "everyone at Discovery and TLC is very anxious about security issues." So basically, they were worried that if they let Pozner talk on the podcast, a pro-Palin wingnut might try to bomb the building.
When I talked to Pozner about the incident, she pointed out that the network's fears aren't unconnected to the content of Palin's show — Palin is "one of the heroes of the Tea Party," whose more wacked-out adherents have threatened violence in the past. The show's also strenuously pro-gun (though as I've said, I believe its stance on hunting is actually one of its less problematic attributes). Certainly the left has its nutjobs too, but it's pretty telling that TLC was worried enough about Tea Party violence to commit the PR faux pas of disinviting an already confirmed guest. Palin's been famously allergic to criticism of any kind — now it looks like the mere threat of a reaction from her craziest followers is enough to stop that criticism before it even starts.
Reality Bites Back At…Sarah Palin's Alaska, TONIGHT, 10:20pm EST [Reality Bites Back]
My TLC Podcast Canceled — Apparently, I Make Sarah Palin "Political" [Reality Bites Back]
Change Of Plans [Sarah Palin's Alaska]