Jonathan Martin Attempts to Create Controversy Where None Exists; Updated

Jonathan Martin, in a column today at the Politico, attempts to stir up controversy involving Governor Palin. A group in Iowa, The Iowa Family Policy Center, has decided to go through proper channels and contact Governor Palin’s agent, the Washington Speakers Bureau, to book her for an appearance on November 21:

A conservative Iowa group’s effort to lure Sarah Palin to its banquet next month has had an unintended effect: Rather than exciting conservatives about the prospect of a visit from the former Alaska governor, the group’s plan to raise a six-figure sum to bring her to the state has GOP activists recoiling at the thought of paying to land a politician’s speaking appearance.

The Iowa Family Policy Center’s effort to cobble together $100,000 for Palin would represent a striking departure from customary practice in the first-in-the-nation state, these Republicans say, noting that a generation of White House hopefuls has paid their own way to boost their party and presidential ambitions.

So let me get this right, Mr. Martin. A private group would like to hear Governor Palin speak and, consequently, they contact the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, and this is evidence that she did something wrong? What, specifically, did she do wrong? After writing multiple paragraphs in an attempt to explain how horrible this is, Martin buries these nuggets in the middle of his story:

There is no indication that the former governor has requested a fee or that her decision whether to attend is being influenced by whether she’ll be paid.

[…]

But, money or not, it seems unlikely that Palin will appear for the event.

In other words, there is no point to Mr. Martin’s story other than to create false controversy involving Governor Palin. Matt Latimer referred to the Politico as Washington’s version of Variety. With non-stories like this, National Enquirer may be a more appropriate comparison.

Update by Doug: Josh Painter has also written about Martin’s hit piece:

False? Misleading? Distorted? Deceptive? Biased? Anti-Palin? You betcha! That’s Jonathan Martin. That’s Politico. That’s reprehensible. Why is Sarah Palin the only political figure Politico goes out of its way to treat in this manner?

Read the rest here.

Update by TR: Newsweek’s Holly Bailey reports:

But hang on: did Palin actually ask the group to pay $100K for her appearance? An IFPC spokesman tells Martin he’s "not personally aware" of a speaker’s fee. "There may or may not be, I don’t know," he tells Politico. For their part, the Palin camp tells NEWSWEEK there’s no fee. Meg Stapleton, Palin’s spokeswoman, tells your Gaggler that Palin "has not requested anything" and that she "does not charge people to campaign for them." According to Stapleton, Palin would instead cover such travel costs through her political-action committee, SarahPAC. Of course, that doesn’t mean she’s going to Iowa. Palin’s book, Going Rogue, is due out Nov. 17, and she’s got a major publicity tour planned around that, including a Nov. 16 appearance on Oprah. "We don’t believe she will be able to attend with her tightly scheduled book tour, and the group has been told that through formal and informal channels," Stapleton says in an e-mail this morning. "However, it appears that some enthusiastic members are willing to try anything to entice the governor as we look at her schedule."



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