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Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

calendar   Wednesday - October 15, 2008

Sarah Palin dives in poll ratings, and msm in USA are not biased, reports The Telegraph.

And ya read it here.  Unless you caught it all back home in US.

It may hurt but there’s no way to ignore this reporting on American elections from the Brit side.
Honestly, and yes I know I’m being cowardly, I so far have avoided watching the other parodies of Mrs. Palin. I saw the first and yes it was funny.
I might get the nerve to see the others. Not really sure I want to.  It’s nice and warm and secure here in the sand.

Sarah Palin dives in poll ratings as Tina Fey impersonates her on Saturday Night Live
It has broken Sarah Palin’s spell and could decide the next president. As Obama and McCain square up for Wednesday’s final debate, Neil Midgley explains how US TV entertains, informs and influences voters in a way that would be unthinkable in Britain.

By Neil Midgley
Last Updated: 9:05AM BST 15 Oct 2008

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Three weeks from now, Sarah Palin may be the Vice-President elect of the United States of America. But today, few people would call her the most powerful woman in American politics.

Arguably, that honour doesn’t go to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi either. Today, the most influential woman in America is probably Tina Fey – a television comedienne.

Since Palin’s nomination as Republican John McCain’s running mate for the White House, Fey has mercilessly and relentlessly impersonated her on NBC’s late-night satirical show Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Fey’s physical resemblance to Palin is uncanny, and Fey has an equally spooky knack of replicating the Alaska governor’s near-Canadian accent.

In public, Palin has taken Fey’s mockery in good part. But Palin’s poll ratings are telling a more devastating story.

In a Newsweek poll in September, voters were asked whether Palin was qualified or unqualified to be president. The result was a near dead-heat. In the same poll this month, those saying she was “unqualified” outnumbered those saying she was “qualified” by a massive 16 points.


Some of Fey’s best satire has come straight from Palin’s own unforced errors.

At the end of last month, Palin was interviewed by Katie Couric, the main news anchor for the CBS television network.

Couric asked Palin whether the $700 billion for the Wall Street bail-out, which had at that point not been approved by Congress, might be better spent helping out middle-class families.

Palin replied: “That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out.

“But ultimately what the bail-out does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Helping the – it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track.

She went on: “So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans and trade – we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today – we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity.”

That babbling response was a gift for Couric, but an even bigger one for Fey the following Saturday. Repeating Palin almost verbatim gave Fey her most powerful line so far.

Thanks to Fey, SNL is defying gravity. While other television shows continue to lose viewers, its ratings are up 50 per cent this autumn – despite the fact that it is now in its 34th season. It currently commands 10 million viewers – a creditable figure for a primetime drama, let alone a late-night sketch show.

NBC has given it an extra slot on Thursday nights. And its success in feeding off serious anchors such as Couric highlights just how powerful a force television has become in deciding this presidential election.

Other satirical shows, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, are also enjoying record ratings, as well as influence far beyond their own viewers.

Stewart’s combination of comic monologue, fake news reports and genuine celebrity guests (such as Michelle Obama and Tony Blair) has gained him a cult following both in the US and here, where the show airs on the digital channel More4.

Even bigger than Saturday Night Live have been the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Sarah Palin’s set-to with Joe Biden on October 2 attracted nearly 70 million viewers – a record for a vice-presidential debate and the highest-rated election debate since 1992.

Presidential candidates Obama and McCain only managed 63 million, but even that is a massive number. To put it in context, this year’s American Idol finale – one of the highest-rated shows in the calendar – had 32 million viewers.

It is impossible to imagine a similar level of engagement with political television in this country. Gordon Brown and David Cameron would not only have to debate each other on TV – an unlikely scenario in itself – but pull in an audience bigger than the finals of Britain’s Got Talent and Strictly Come Dancing put together.

American networks do have some advantages over the BBC and ITV in planning and executing their political coverage.

Presidential elections happen on a rigid four-year timetable, avoiding the unholy scramble when a British general election is called at a month’s notice.

That allows the networks to engage with the process much earlier on – not least with their Sunday morning political talk shows.

“Two years ago, the then-potential candidates were making their pitstops on [NBC Sunday morning show] Meet the Press,” says Brian Stelter, a media reporter for the New York Times and the lead contributor to that newspaper’s TV Decoder blog. “In some ways, those shows are really try-outs.”

British TV channels also labour under Ofcom’s impartiality requirements, which bar the kind of opinion-led political shows that litter America’s cable news channels.

Every weeknight, there is a primetime battle between Fox News’s legendary conservative Bill O’Reilly, and firebrand liberal Keith Olbermann, whose show airs on NBC’s cable news spin-off channel MSNBC.

Olbermann calls O’Reilly “Billo the Clown”; O’Reilly glories in the fact that Fox gets higher ratings than MSNBC.

The BBC News channel and Sky News could never engage in such playground antics, no matter how entertaining – not least because they could distort the outcome of elections.

“I think we’re learning what it means to have opinion journalism in this country on such a grand scale,” says Stelter. “It’s only in the last six to 12 months that those lines have hardened between Fox and MSNBC. I think the [ratings] numbers for cable have surprised people.

“Cable, which is a niche offering, is in some cases beating some of the big broadcasting networks. I think that shows that people are looking for different stripes of political news.”

American political TV certainly is polarised. When Governor Palin attacked the media in her speech at the Republican convention last month, the crowd chanted “NBC”.

Gwen Ifill, a respected anchor on the non-commercial channel PBS, who moderated the vice-presidential debate, saw her impartiality attacked because she is writing a book about African-American politics that mentions Obama in its title.

Yet despite the Wild-West flavour of some shows, America’s networks comprehensively outstrip this country in both volume and quality of political coverage.

All three major US networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – offer a large amount of serious (and unbiased) political coverage, both in their evening network newscasts and in their morning equivalents of GMTV. All three have Sunday morning political talk shows.

(and here we conservative folks have been thinking how biased those innocents are. silly us. )

By contrast, ITV has almost abandoned politics, and Channel 4 offers precious little political coverage outside Channel 4 News (and, occasionally, Dispatches).

The BBC still wheels out politics on Sunday mornings, but Andrew Marr’s show is very soft and The Politics Show, with its heavy regional component, often seems like a box-ticking exercise by the corporation.

Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott, BBC1’s late-night political Punch and Judy, would seem dangerously flippant among NBC’s line-up of heavyweight political pundits.

Even more worryingly, political television gets no support from Ofcom’s ongoing review of public service broadcasting (PSB), which will likely mutate into government policy early next year.

The regulator appears so obsessed by preserving regional news on ITV, and so charmed by Channel 4’s bid for public funding, that it will allow the broadcasters’ coverage of national politics to drift.

Unlike science, arts, and history, political television does not get a separate mention from news and current affairs in Ofcom’s definition of PSB; the word “democracy” did not appear once in the regulator’s latest 155-page report.

Impartiality and the public service ethos hardly characterise Tina Fey’s performances. Tonight’s presidential debate forms part of a series driven largely by commercial networks, not publicly funded channels. Neither Fox News nor MSNBC was set up as a sop to a regulator.

Yet if Lord Reith were alive today, he’d see more education, information and entertainment about politics in US television than on the BBC.

Can we learn something from our American cousins? As Sarah Palin erself might say, “Darn right, doggone it, you betcha!”

http://tinyurl.com/3nygoz

That link will also take you to all the Tina Fey parodies. 


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 10/15/2008 at 07:38 AM   
Filed Under: • Blog StuffMiscellaneousSatireTelevision •  
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