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For Donald Trump, Sarah Palin’s Fall Shows the Limits of Media Obsession – Vanity Fair



The former Alaska governor dominated coverage while she was seen as a GOP kingmaker and potential presidential candidate—until reality (or at least reality TV) set in. The spotlight on Trump, too, may dim without a social media megaphone and as new outrage makers, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, grab headlines.

Back in the before times of January 2015, when I was a reporter for CNN, I did a weekend live shot from the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, one of those political cattle calls where Republican presidential hopefuls take turns onstage professing their Christian faith before a crowd of people harvested from a Grant Wood painting, hoping to impress the state’s conservative activists. Most of the supposedly serious 2016 contenders had flown to Iowa: Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. But the CNN anchor that day, Michael Smerconish, asked me a reasonable question about two attention-grabbing Republicans who were also there, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, and whether they might run for president too. Like most Very Savvy political journalists at the time, I laughed off Trump’s appearance as just another thirsty White House tease. And having covered Palin up close since she was chosen as John McCain’s running mate, I knew her best shot at the Republican nomination was back in 2012.

Soon after the segment aired, CNN president Jeff Zucker, who is always watching, emailed me and a few other producers demanding that we not cover Trump or Palin, explaining that both Republicans were carnival acts, attention-seekers, two unserious distractions from the real presidential race to come. At the time, few in politics would have disagreed. I think about that moment from time to time, and not just because CNN’s position on covering Trump so famously changed once he actually became a candidate, delivering ratings galore. But the Iowa story is worth remembering, too, because of the way Trump and Palin were lumped together by the smart set as little more than a sad and desperate right-wing sideshow, when in truth, they were two of the most consequential political figures in American history.

These days Palin has receded to a historical footnote and a punch line for a news media that’s become even more cocooned in its urban bubble since 2008, with Trump now receiving most of the credit for upending the presumed order of national politics. But it was Palin who opened the door for Trump, the first politician to fuse together backlash politics and anti-elitism with the mighty American power of celebrity. “The impact that she has had on rejuvenating almost the Republican Party, it’s been unbelievable,” Trump said of Palin in 2008, soon after she was picked from obscurity to join McCain on the ticket. After McCain lost, Palin resigned from the governorship in Alaska but continued to gather strength as a fixture on the conservative political circuit, publishing a best-selling memoir, headlining Tea Party rallies, joining Fox News, and coming close to running for president in 2012. And she did most of it while bypassing the “lamestream” media by posting her musings and rants on Facebook for an enormous community of die-hard fans.

Like Trump, Palin had powers beyond the campaign trail: She wore a celebrity halo rarely seen on a politician. Her traveling circus in the fall of 2008 proudly embraced redneck America, Hank Williams Jr. and Gretchen Wilson, hunting and fishing, Carhartts and Walmart. Her crowds were rapturous. Rural Americans and working people who didn’t go to college saw her as one of their own, while liberals and journalists loved to mock her lack of sophistication and manner of speaking. It was a partisan culture clash that only gave Palin more strength. Tina Fey’s scornful impression of Palin on Saturday Night Live was only the beginning. After Palin came on the scene, as Nancy Isenberg recounted in her book White Trash, a history of class in America, Hollywood unleashed a crop of new TV shows that played off the redneck trope that Palin ushered into the mainstream: Swamp People, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Redneck Island, Duck Dynasty, Moonshiners, Appalachian Outlaws. Her family dramas became tabloid favorites. And Palin would go on, fittingly, to star in her own reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, produced by Mark Burnett, Trump’s beloved reality-show producer.

Barack Obama later wrote in his 2020 memoir, A Promised Land, that Palin’s explosive rise was “a sign of things to come, a larger, darker reality in which partisan affiliation and political expedience would threaten to blot out everything—your previous positions, your stated principles, even what your own senses, your eyes and ears, told you to be true.” More than any politician that came before her, Palin made politics purely about cultural identity—and there would be no turning back. Obama left readers to draw the obvious comparison to Trump. Whether Trump was watching closely or not, Palin carved out a new path to power. And now, in his postpresidency, Trump’s future might also look a lot like Palin’s. Out of the White House and essentially deplatformed from Twitter and Facebook, Trump is inhabiting something of a media time warp, now much more dependent on traditional media for attention. He’s still the hottest story in the world, but Palin’s moment in the sun, which began more than a decade ago, offers a possible glimpse into how the next few years will unfold for the former president—and how his hold on Republican politics and the media, which seems overpowering today, will fade with time.

Between 2009 and 2011, Mitch McConnell might have controlled the official levers of GOP politics in Washington, but no Republican occupied the public consciousness more than Sarah Palin. The country might have had its first Black president in office, grappling with seismic economic distress, but Palin was the entertainer in chief. Her face was splattered on magazines, on cable and broadcast news, on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, on Oprah and CBN, on Facebook and Twitter, on weirdo fan blogs and international news sites alike. She was inescapable. In 2009, my colleague Michael Calderone wrote for Politico about the “Palin-media codependency,” noting that Andrea Mitchell had hosted her MSNBC show from a Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Palin was scheduled to stop on her book tour for Going Rogue. That year Andrew Sullivan blogged about Palin more than 24 times in two days for The Atlantic. National Review launched a blog dedicated solely to observing Palin. The Huffington Post helped usher in the “outraged fact check” genre, with “The 18 Biggest Falsehoods in Palin’s book” driving plenty of clicks. Palin sat down for a big exclusive with Barbara Walters, with ABC dripping out teaser clips across Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline. She was inescapable.

As the Tea Party movement forced its way into the national conversation, she emerged as its de facto standard-bearer. Political pundits were at once confounded and bewitched. Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard placed Palin’s defiant anti-intellectualism in the tradition of American populism. Maureen Dowd wrote that “Democrats would be foolish to write off her visceral power.” Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone, celebrated her ability to trigger know-it-all political reporters. Any of this sound familiar? Her arrival in politics came just as the legacy news media was succumbing to its current social media addiction, but Palin held attentional singularity, commanding clicks and TV ratings alike. In 2010, my colleague Gabriel Sherman wrote in New York that no politician in history had “marketed herself over multiple platforms with the sophistication and sheer ambitiousness that Palin has shown.” Every time she appeared on Fox News, where she signed on as a contributor in 2009, ratings shot up 10-15%, Sherman reported, a phenomenon that repeated itself at MSNBC. Fox even sidelined one of its own reporters after she delivered a tiny morsel of Palin criticism on air. With a $100,000-a-pop speaking fee, TV contracts, and a best-selling memoir, Palin was monetizing the whole time, making upward of $12 million in the year after leaving the Alaska governor’s mansion, out of power but more powerful than ever.

Palin leaned into the media chaos with a smile and not an ounce of restraint, giving her limitless political abilities. When Palin coined the phrase “death panels” during the fight to pass Obamacare, it became the Tea Party’s signature rally cry, repeated endlessly despite being a falsehood. Her appearances at conservative conventions and Tea Party rallies, often while wearing jewelry festooned with American flags, were aired in full on cable news, with reporters assigned to follow her every move. Her ability to raise small-dollar donations from grassroots conservatives was unparalleled. In 2009, when Palin was waffling about speaking at a Washington fundraiser for Senate and House Republicans—a D.C. micro-drama if ever there was one—the back-and-forth was covered exhaustively by NBC News, CNN, The New York Times, Politico, and dozens of other outlets. Republican elites were sick of her: The National Journal conducted an “Insiders Poll” of 85 GOP strategists in Washington, and Palin was the top response when asked: “Which voice in your party would you most like to mute?” Of course those insiders only uttered their concerns on background, fearing a GOP base that felt differently.

When Palin started picking favorites in GOP primaries during the 2010 midterms, she instantly became the most coveted endorsement of the election cycle. With her small-staffed political outfit, SarahPAC, Palin didn’t bring much of a political machine to the table, but a single social media post could generate enough media coverage and fundraising dollars to flip the direction of a primary overnight. In May 2010, when Palin endorsed Nikki Haley just before South Carolina’s four-way gubernatorial primary and appeared with her at a rally in Columbia, Haley was left for dead in last place. A few weeks later she was the Republican nominee. Former Haley adviser Rob Godfrey, who was then working for a rival candidate, told me at the time that Palin’s endorsement was “an earned media blowtorch.” The Washington Post launched a “Palin endorsement tracker” to follow along. Some of Palin’s picks were conspiracy lunatics and helpless eccentrics—Republicans like Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware—who won their primaries but went on to lose in November, infuriating Republican strategists in Washington who saw their more electable candidates swamped by a single Palin tweet.

It’s memory-holed now, but Palin’s stardom continued unabated all the way through late 2011, a full three years after her arrival on the national scene. Her flirtation with running for the 2012 Republican nomination—never ruling out a bid and allowing supporters to build an operation for her in Iowa—kept her in the headlines. While dancing around a bid of her own, Palin threw carefree darts at declared candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Her newest adviser, a filmmaker named Steve Bannon, helped position Palin as a populist alternative to the “crony capitalism” that had infected Republican politics. Advisers to the Republican candidates all groused privately to reporters about Palin’s headline-grabbing ways, but on the record, they politely welcomed Palin’s possible endorsement and shied away from criticizing her. In the summer of 2011, she announced a “One Nation” bus tour of historical sites up the East Coast, making stops at Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, and Bunker Hill, teasing a presidential run with her telegenic family in tow. Local TV news choppers chased the bus driving up Interstate 76 to air live coverage. ABC News, clearly interested in service journalism, added a helpful interactive map of the Palin bus tour to its website. The only event that managed to push Palin’s bus tour off of cable news was the “hacked” picture of Anthony Weiner’s junk that surfaced on Twitter. But some two months later, Palin was back at it, drawing a horde of press during her visit to the Iowa State Fair.

Only that October, when Palin declared that she wouldn’t run, did her influence begin to wane. Media attention drifted from Palin to the presidential race—and to wackier Tea Party characters like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and the birther kingpin himself, Donald Trump. Romney wrestled the nomination away from his conservative rivals, temporarily snuffing out the restive grassroots wing of the GOP. Palin lingered on the scene, still showing up at conservative events, posting on Facebook, and handing out endorsements. But her schtick just got old, fading with time. Fox News dropped Palin in 2015. Her husband, Todd, later divorced her, a story that made barely a ripple. She surfaced recently with a strange Instagram video threatening to primary Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, and she showed up in Georgia to campaign for Republicans ahead of the January runoff elections. The appearance was met with a shrug and, according to script, a handful of snarky reporter tweets about her wardrobe.

Right now, for Trump, that kind of political trajectory—from the center of the known universe to a lesser moon orbiting Pluto—feels like an impossibility. Unlike Palin, Trump was an actual president who changed the course of history, with a vise grip on the Republican Party and most of its voters. Trump has only just left office; he has yet to give an interview; his second impeachment trial is underway; and his influence on the GOP seems secure enough. The media will cover him for a long time to come, and hangers-on like Matt Gaetz will always be available for #content. He will tease a presidential run, and maybe box out other Republican contenders in the process. But the center of gravity in politics always changes, whether he decides to run or not. Trump’s shocking deplatforming following the January 6 Capitol Hill riot, predicted by no one, immediately neutralized the predictable “Trump 2024!” takes that followed his November loss. What is Trump without his tweets? It was proof, yet again, that the political class is permanently addicted to the present, rarely looking up from Twitter to think about future possibilities that might contradict it. With his social media megaphone gone, Trump is quite obviously a diminished man, operating in a media environment that looks a little more like 2011, when the establishment media had a bit more power, and a little less like 2021. Yes, there are more conservative outlets today, and more discreet communities where the cult of Trumpism can flourish. But going back to his real estate days, Trump’s power has always depended on the mainstream media’s addiction to his antics. Without social media, his influence moving forward will now be much more dependent on the media and the Republican Party, and how much they choose to accommodate him. Right now they are. But they won’t forever. Bad politicians like Missouri senator Josh Hawley will try to Xerox Trump and fail. Better politicians, as always, will find ways to win by wresting power away from those who hold it, marshaling voters with messages of their own.

It’s already getting dark out there for Mister Trump. Without the presidency, he already commands much less of our mindshare than he did only a few weeks ago. Like Palin, Trump himself will recede over time, even if the damage he has inflicted on our political culture remains. The media has started to search for the next ambassador from Crazytown, the next ratings grab. In just the last two weeks, as cable-news ratings started to tumble without the constant drip of Trump outrage, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon Karen, became the new hotness. The Washington Post reported last week that Greene’s name had been mentioned about 400 times on MSNBC and 200 times on CNN since November. The writers, as the Twitter joke goes, have embarked on a new season, with some wild new plot twists and characters. “Palin is the perfect analogy here,” said Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Never Trump Republicans in Congress, who also happened to be blessed with a Palin primary endorsement back in 2010. “She was this fierce populist figure, and people couldn’t get enough of her. And then it stopped. Trump will certainly be relevant and a player in the next cycle, but that will decrease over time, and without Twitter and the trappings of power, I think people will get tired of him. People will finally start to see he’s not as powerful as he claims to be.” As a hockey mom from Wasilla once said: You betcha.

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— Trump Makes an Exit With His Brand in Tatters
— From the Archive: How Donald Trump Turned Palm Beach Against Him
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KEY Difference Media Promotes Verizon Media's Campaign of School of Block – Financial Post



Miami, FL, July 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — (via Blockchain WireVerizon Media is now working with KEY Difference Media and they are proud to announce their joint effort to promote Ledger’s School of Block to a blockchain enthusiastic audience.

Logo Available: Verizon Media & KEY Difference Media

KEY Difference Media is a blockchain full suite marketing agency with an impressive 15 years track record within the content marketing space.It has been a prominent blockchain player since 2013. It has raised over $550M in token sales. KEY Difference Media has worked with the earliest of the gaming companies that incorporated Bitcoin as a payment option to the earliest of exchanges, NFTs and multiverses. With a 350+ experts team led by the CEO, Karnika E. Yashwant, KEY Difference Media offers advisory, content marketing, influencer marketing, and public relations, among many other services.

“Karnika is a very reliable and useful partner in terms of blockchain and crypto industry. If you need any assistance or help – just ask him!”, Sergey Maslennikov, Chief Communications Officer, 1inch Network. 

Verizon Media is an advertising and publicity outlet with a hallowed history working with the biggest names and brands across various industries. It is headed by a diverse team of experts with decades of experience between them at the highest level of their respective fields. They own brands that lead their respective sectors like Yahoo and AOL. Finally, it is a branch of Verizon Communications that focuses on media and online businesses. 

KEY Difference Media remains a pacesetter in blockchain marketing. The blockchain industry remains relatively young and extremely promising. However, there are as many opportunities as there are cautionary tales. KEY Difference Media has become synonymous with trustworthy, timely, and effective blockchain marketing within this growing industry. Since 2013, KEY Difference Media has worked with an enviable list of partners accompanied by glowing reputations.

Verizon Media’s latest venture is in collaboration with KEY Difference Media to promote School of Block by Ledger to a stratified audience that KEY Difference Media provides access to.

“Even before we set out on this journey, we always had a clear vision for KEY Difference Media. We understand the role of generating the right kind of noise and publicity around our clients’ endeavors. It is just as important as building a strong team with everyone pulling in the same direction. That is why we were thrilled to be associated with one of the biggest names in the publicity and brand marketing space, and there aren’t many bigger than Verizon Media. We are confident that associations like ours and Verizon Media – two heavyweights in our respective spaces – would attract the kind of crowd we envisaged for this project,” explained Karnika E. Yashwant, CEO, KEY Difference Media

To learn more about KEY Difference Media, their process and success click here


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KEY Difference Media

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Pac-12 Media Days Open Thread – UW Dawg Pound



Pac-12 Football Media Days is today, which means football’s around the corner. We’ll post updates here all day:

To start with, Christian Caple has his players he’s most excited to watch in camp.

As far as recognizing the Pac-12’s continued success in other sports needs the revenue from these two to maintain their superiority, I have no problem with this:


Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.

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Saudi Arabia: Sudanese Media Personality Jailed for Critical Tweets – Human Rights Watch



(Beirut) – A Saudi court sentenced a Sudanese media personality and journalist to four years in prison on June 8, 2021, for “insulting the state’s institutions and symbols” and “negatively speaking about the kingdom’s policies” among other vague charges, Human Rights Watch said today.

The sentence against Ahmad Ali Abdelkader, 31, is related to tweets and media interviews he shared to Twitter in which he discussed and expressed support for Sudan’s 2018-19 revolution and criticized Saudi actions in Sudan and Yemen.

“Jailing a media personality on bogus charges speaks more negatively about Saudi Arabia’s policies than anything Ahmad Ali Abdelkader ever posted,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This and other similar prosecutions demonstrate just how determined Saudi authorities are to stamp out even the most minor criticism or questioning on social media and deter all dissent under threat of long prison sentences.”

Saudi authorities arrested Abdelkader when he arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on April 19 and detained him first in a police station in Jeddah for 20 days and then transferred him to al-Shumaisi detention center near Mecca. He has been denied access to a lawyer, including legal representation at his trial.   

His trial consisted of only two short sessions. In the first, the charges were read out to him, and the judge denied him the chance to defend himself. In the second, the judge immediately read out Abdelkader’s sentence, a source with direct knowledge of the case told Human Rights Watch.

Abdelkader lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for five years, between 2015 and December 2020, first as a media coordinator for the Asian Football Federation and then for a Saudi supermarket chain’s marketing and communications department. In December, he left the country with a final exit visa, required to leave Saudi Arabia permanently. In April, he traveled back to Saudi Arabia on a new work visa and was arrested upon entry. Saudi prosecutors interrogated him twice in detention and accused him of behavior on Twitter that was harmful to Saudi Arabia, the source said.

Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah criminal court sentenced him on the basis of tweets and statements made to the media during and after February 2018, most of which he posted while based in Saudi Arabia, as well as email exchanges he had with major international human rights organizations in which he inquired about membership and subscribed and received newsletters. Human Rights Watch reviewed the nine tweets and two media interviews explicitly mentioned in the court ruling and determined that none of them incited violence, hatred, or discrimination, the only categories of speech that countries can target with sanctions under international human rights law.

Some of his tweets refer to Saudi relations with Sudan, including one in March 2020, responding to a tweet by the chairperson of the Sudanese Congress Party on Covid-19 measures, in which he accused Sudan’s military government of taking orders from Riyadh. In one September 2020 tweet on the possibility of Sudan’s normalization with Israel at the behest of the UAE, Abdelkader said that Sudan cannot operate outside of Saudi Arabia’s orbit and is unlikely to normalize with Israel unless Saudi Arabia does so too. 

In a July 2018 tweet responding to a Twitter poll conducted by the Saudi-based al-Arabiya news channel asking why Sudanese youth were joining the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Abdelkader accused Saudi media of targeting Sudan and Saudi Arabia of financing ISIS. In September 2020, Abdelkader thanked the Qatari government, which was in a dispute with the Saudi government, for what he said was its support to the Sudanese people.

The court ruling also cited Abdelkader’s Twitter interactions with an Egyptian journalist for El-Sharq Satellite Channel, Moataz Matar, as well as the fact he had his mobile number saved in his phone’s contact list, as evidence that he belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Sharq is an opposition TV channel based in Istanbul, and is widely known to be supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ruling did not cite specific interactions.

The ruling also mentioned two media interviews Abdelkader conducted with El-Sharq in January 2019 and with the Bosnian N1 TV channel in June 2019 in which he discussed the Sudanese revolution of 2018-19.

The court convicted him on charges of posting tweets “insulting to the states’ institutions and symbols and to the [Saudi-led] coalition forces in their war against terrorist Houthi militias,” “speaking negatively about the Kingdom’s policy and its relationship with the Government of Sudan,” “accusing the Kingdom of interfering in Sudanese affairs,” “exploiting the Hajj season for economic purposes,” “accusing the Saudi media of supporting the terrorist organization ISIS,” and “appearing on media platforms loyal to parties hostile to the Kingdom and speaking on such platforms in a way that is harmful to the Kingdom.”

In addition to the arbitrary charges above, which lack any basis in written or otherwise accessible and foreseeable law, the court also convicted him under articles 6(1) and 13 of the Saudi Arabia’s repressive 2007 anti-cybercrime law. Article 6(1) imposes prison sentences not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding three million riyals or to either punishment for publishing information online that “impinges on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy.” Under article 13 of the law, the Saudi court ordered Abdelkader’s Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok accounts shut down and his mobile phone confiscated.

Saudi authorities have frequently used broadly worded charges, such as article 6 of the cybercrime law, to restrict the lawful and peaceful exercise of free expression, in violation of international human rights obligations. The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has ratified, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Article 32.

“Not only were Abdelkader’s basic rights to due process denied, but when a government uses vague charges designed to limit free speech and harshly punish peaceful criticism, there really is no chance at a fair trial,” Page said.

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