Sometimes, fate arranges the world of journalism in ways that make certain conclusions unmistakable. This week was one of those moments, when two interesting news articles were published more or less simultaneously.
One appeared in New York magazine. It was a long, detailed analysis of how Sarah Palin has, in the course of one year, made herself rich. It was a thoroughly reported story, but written with exactly the degree of snark you’d expect a Manhattan magazine to apply to America’s highest-profile conservative. And that’s OK. I slap on the snark regularly, so I can’t get indignant when others do so. Besides, I’m on the record as believing Palin has no business being anywhere close to the White House, so anything which keeps her in check in fine by me.
The other article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Al and Tipper Gore had purchased an $8.9 million oceanview home near Montecito, California. The story was two paragraphs long.
It caused me to wonder if Gore — who, like Palin, amassed a fortune after being in public service — had ever gotten a New York magazine-style analysis of his wealth. After a few minutes of googling, I found that in November 2009, the New York Times took a look at Gore’s practice of investing in businesses that hope to profit from the climate change worries that he endlessly highlights. It was not a snarky article. If anything, it was deferential:
Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world’s first “carbon billionaire,” profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in.
… Mr. Gore says that he is simply putting his money where his mouth is.
“Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?” Mr. Gore said. “I am proud of it. I am proud of it.”
Let’s try an experiment here. Imagine that Palin was building her fortune in the same way Gore has. Imagine that she spent all her time crusading for an expansion of off-shore drilling, using her bully pulpit to push for a relaxation of environmental regulation and for tax credits to oil companies to encourage them to drill. Further imagine that she had millions of dollars invested in the very companies that stood to profit mightily from the changes in national policy she promoted.
Can you imagine that the New York Times would ever quote Palin as saying she was “simply putting her money where her mouth is” — and essentially leave it at that?
If so, you’ve got a more creative mind than I do, because that’s where my imagination fails me.