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Bristol Palin on pregnancy and life.
February 17, 2009 11:35 AM   Subscribe

In a strangely compelling interview with Fox New's Greta Van Susteren, Bristol Palin weighs in on teen pregnancy, abstinence, tabloid news and at 18 years old who gets to make the decisions. From the Huffington Post.
posted by pianomover (91 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw a clip of this earlier and Bristol actually came across as much more intelligent than her mother. But then, Bristol wasn't doing a terrible job of pretending to know more than she did and that's bound to affect her performance. (In what respect?)
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on February 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Bristol actually came across as much more intelligent than her mother."

So does my hamster.... that isn't a benchmark to judge a person by...

And...

isn't mention of anyone in THAT family banned now????
posted by HuronBob at 11:40 AM on February 17, 2009


I'm just not that into her.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:44 AM on February 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


yeah... I don't think Sarah is particularly stupid, just not adept enough at doing what she tried to do. I also don't think she would make a great leader, she's just... you know average. Which may be ok for a small (population) State, but kinda disastrous with anything too complex. Bristol is just some kid/lady who was caught in the middle of it all at a particularly volatile point in her life, she and her kid got overused used as props and forced into the mold that the Republicans wanted her to fulfill. Frankly I'll be surprised if Bristol and whatshisname actually do get married. And that is ok.
posted by edgeways at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am fully aware of the excess of S. Palin posts, this is not about her nor I think should the conversation be about her. I had a hell of a time trying to post the video separately and out of frustration linked to the Huffington Post spot. Like I said the interview is compelling or as I used to say to my parents "Just listen to the lyrics."
posted by pianomover at 11:56 AM on February 17, 2009


Compelling? Intelligent? She punctuates every sentence with a barrage of "likes" and uptalks so that every declarative statement sounds like a question. "Um, he's up, like, um, half the night?" Times have obviously changed; when I was in high school one semester of either Public Speaking or Discussion and Debate was a requirement for graduation, and at the very least we were taught to say "yes" and not "yeah" (Bristol's constant rejoinder) in an interview situation.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:57 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


when I was in high school one semester of either Public Speaking or Discussion and Debate was a requirement for graduation

I'm glad you dropped by, it'll be interesting hearing the 18th century's take on our modern politics.
posted by DU at 11:59 AM on February 17, 2009 [44 favorites]


Yeah, like, uhhhhmmm, who gives a shit?
posted by sfts2 at 12:01 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


pianomover: The problem is that without Sarah Palin, Bristol's completely non-newsworthy. A conversation about Bristol in only notable in the context of her mother, so it's natural when talk swings back to Sarah.
posted by boo_radley at 12:03 PM on February 17, 2009


Babies makin' babies.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 12:03 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oriole, about your whole angst regarding uptalking and "likes":

This is, like, such total crap?
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


At the end of the interview, Sarah Palin gave a passionate speech against the fairness doctrine, which has been painted by conservatives as a prerogative of Democrats. She lauded a few members of the media whom she admires for asking tough questions - and all of whom happen to work for Fox News: Van Susteren, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck.

"Any attempt to squash these voices... that's a threat to our democracy."


Ah heh. Heheh. HehehahahahhaaahahaahHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHOHFORFUCKSSAKE.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Times have obviously changed; when I was in high school one semester of either Public Speaking or Discussion and Debate was a requirement for graduation, and at the very least we were taught to say "yes" and not "yeah"

As in "Yes, I would like you to vacate my lawn!" ?
posted by mannequito at 12:08 PM on February 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Times have obviously changed; when I was in high school one semester of either Public Speaking or Discussion and Debate was a requirement for graduation, and at the very least we were taught to say "yes" and not "yeah"
Back in my day we called it "Disquisition and Comportment," whippersnapper.
posted by Floydd at 12:11 PM on February 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


pianomover: The problem is that without Sarah Palin, Bristol's completely non-newsworthy. A conversation about Bristol in only notable in the context of her mother, so it's natural when talk swings back to Sarah.

Sadly so as I think she speaks honestly about a still newsworthy subject that is Babies makin' babies.
posted by pianomover at 12:12 PM on February 17, 2009


DU: Yes, yes, 18th century, har har, let me get my monocle and snifter. You and lemurrhea can rut around in the linguistic filth of hoi polloi, struggling to string together their opinions.
posted by boo_radley at 12:14 PM on February 17, 2009


Compelling? Intelligent? She punctuates every sentence with a barrage of "likes" and uptalks so that every declarative statement sounds like a question. "Um, he's up, like, um, half the night?"

I think you are confusing intelligence with speaking skill. By your standard, Ronald Reagan was highly intelligent, and Barack Obama is, uh, not, at least when he's, uh, answering questions rather than, uh, giving a speech prepared in advance.

(Oriole Adams, don't let DU bug you. I had to take two semesters of speech in high school: one a general overview, and the second a choice among several more specific courses.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel somewhat sorry for Bristol, going through a rather difficult period in her life while her family was put into the media spotlight. I'm hoping she can have a few peaceful years to get her life sorted out and settled, whether she marries her hockey player or not.

And while we're not supposed to discuss S., I am struck by what a bugaboo the fairness doctrine has turned out to be - I haven't heard any Democrat even breathe a word of it, but it seems to come up in many interviews from the (R) side of the aisle.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched the interview yet, but I wonder was the questions asked, "What's a condom, and how are they used?"
posted by mikelieman at 12:18 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you stop talking about them, they will go away.
posted by chillmost at 12:18 PM on February 17, 2009


Oh, I forgot the Obligatory Fairness Doctrine Notice:

Responsible parties with an opposing viewpoint may request time for a rebuttal.
posted by mikelieman at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2009


She's so Palin! Way to rebel and play the media in a homespun fashion.
posted by geoff. at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2009


Palin's Baby's Baby Mama is trash.
posted by gman at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2009


Responsible parties with an opposing viewpoint may request time for a rebuttal.

Being responsible would be the rebuttal in itself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Next up on the obvious-to-everyone-else tour, the Palin kids talk about how naming children stupid, meaningless yuppie names is really, really irritating.
posted by Muddler at 12:40 PM on February 17, 2009


I like the odd pauses.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:41 PM on February 17, 2009


"Any attempt to squash these voices... that's a threat to our democracy."

Indeed! When the ass of censorship squashes our voices, we must slap it with the righteous hand of freedom and protect our democracy from this threat with the condom of liberty!
posted by mattdidthat at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I noticed she was constantly looking to the side during the interview. I was wondering if that was a hallmark of someone lying, or trying to remember something someone had told them, rather than something one had experienced first-hand.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2009


Babies makin' babies.

Like 13 y.o. father Alfie Patten.
posted by ericb at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2009


Lines form on my face and hands
Lines form from the ups and downs
I'm in the middle without any plans
I'm a boy and I'm a man

I'm eighteen
and I don't know what I want
Eighteen
I just don't know what I want
Eighteen
I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I'll go runnin in outer space
Oh yeah

I got a
baby's brain and an old man's heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don't always know what I'm talkin' about
Feels like I'm livin in the middle of doubt
Cause I'm

Eighteen
I get confused every day
Eighteen
I just don't know what to say
Eighteen
I gotta get away

Lines form on my face and my hands
Lines form on the left and right
I'm in the middle
the middle of life
I'm a boy and I'm a man
I'm eighteen and I LIKE IT
Yes I like it
Oh I like it
Love it
Like it
Love it
Eighteen!
Eighteen!
Eighteen!
Eighteen and I LIKE IT
posted by pianomover at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Strangely compelling?" I think you're confusing words. I do that all the time. Like, I walk into a burger joint, and I say, "can I have a large double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and a side of GENOCIDE?" Of course, I meant to say "fries" instead of "GENOCIDE," but sometimes the wrong word just pops out.

In this case, I think you meant "boring." This interview is strangely boring.
posted by koeselitz at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's nice when a member of the religious right goes off script and mentions that just asking teens to stop having sex is not sufficient to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It would have been better if it was Sarah.
posted by caddis at 1:05 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has anyone made a web app like the babelfish, but instead of languages, has a slider to let you transmorgify your prose across historical vernacular? To render your sentence in 20's talk, then Abe Lincolnize it, drop it back to a pre-colonial flang .. all the way until it crosses into Olde English, etc.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


My favorite part:

GvS: . . . contraception is obviously an issue here. Is that something that you are just lazy about or not interested in? Do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it?

BP: No, um, I don't want to get into detail about that. I think that abstinence is [she takes a moment to get her bearings] abstinence is not realistic at all.


I imagine her thinking "Dude, we just wanted to get it on and contraception is a buzzkill. We were 17, don't act like you were all responsible and patient when you were 17." (That is totally what I would have been thinking in her place.)
posted by oddman at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


FatherDagon had many spawn many spawn had faaaather daa-agon: She lauded a few members of the media whom she admires for asking tough questions - and all of whom happen to work for Fox News: Van Susteren, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck. "Any attempt to squash these voices... that's a threat to our democracy."

never used baby shoes always always buy new: And while we're not supposed to discuss S., I am struck by what a bugaboo the fairness doctrine has turned out to be - I haven't heard any Democrat even breathe a word of it, but it seems to come up in many interviews from the (R) side of the aisle.

It's a preemptive strike, and a rallying point behind which to mass the troops. They full-on realize that the fairness doctrine was originally created to prevent the kind of mass culture manipulation that they practice daily, so they're trying to tie a pointed knife to its reestablishment to dissuade the new-powers-that-be from going that route. They're scared about that potentiality because there is precedent for it; the fairness doctrine isn't some new thing, it used to be the way the mass media was done in the U.S.

It's probably unlikey that the Democrats'll try to reestablish it though, they're still too gunshy. They'll probably just try to allow the bluster brigade's voices to thin out into a reedy wail then die on the wind. Whether they will die out or not, well, they certainly have a lot of volume loudness on their side.
posted by JHarris at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2009


Teenage mother Bristol Palin: "everyone should be abstinent but it's not realistic..."

The emperor is too wearing clothes! Shut up!
posted by mullingitover at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Compelling would be if she were shooting ping-pong balls out of her nether-parts while critiquing The Origin Of Species in Greek. This is just stupid.
posted by docpops at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2009


Teenage mother Bristol Palin: "everyone should be abstinent but it's not realistic..."
I'd hit that.

Note: homosexual poster, ironic comment.
posted by Nelson at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, ah, who among us wouldn't want to be filled up with Greta van Susteren's babies?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bristol Palin: "Everyone should be abstinent but it's not realistic"

Well, it worked for Joseph and Mary, didn't it?
posted by mattdidthat at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't want to get into detail about that

She says that a couple of times which made me think she had some talking points ready, but also had a warning from her mom to "not get into details".

The other part I liked was the whole abstinence talk. I mean, COME ON! Didn't we already teach this doctrine as a nation, and the teen pregnancies went UP!
IT DOESN'T WORK! (On preview, I'm not referring to you mattdidthat)
posted by P.o.B. at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2009


FatherDagon had many spawn
Right flipper! Left flipper! Turn around!

posted by EarBucket at 1:27 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oriole Adams: Compelling? Intelligent? She punctuates every sentence with a barrage of "likes" and uptalks so that every declarative statement sounds like a question. "Um, he's up, like, um, half the night?" Times have obviously changed; when I was in high school one semester of either Public Speaking or Discussion and Debate was a requirement for graduation, and at the very least we were taught to say "yes" and not "yeah" (Bristol's constant rejoinder) in an interview situation.

You can't blame her completely. Wait right here, I have a point to make on this, there's just something I have to do first.

*steps over to microphone* Hello? Is this thing on? Good.

Hello everybody. I just wanted to address a few words to all you angry, angry Democrat-bred politicos who are bitter about the fact that your precious election cycle is over now. I know that it's very difficult for you and all, seeing as how there's nobody in the public eye anymore that you can regularly vent your hatred toward publicly without looking like a dweeb. I know that it really sucks having to watch the disappointment on the faces of the folks at the office when they realize after listening to five minutes of one of your tirades that Minority Whips and the Huff Post actually don't have anything to do with sex. I know it's been a bitter season, and that your favorite thing - having an excuse to snark knowingly and deride with authority - has evaporated like so much icy ammonia flung from the oblate spheroid of Jupiter. But you should know that when you say things like, "hey everybody! Check out this video where the daughter of a Republican almost actually says something that a Democrat would be more likely to say! Hilarious!" - well, it just seems pathetic. Especially when the interview is boring.

*turns off microphone*

Okay, Oriole Adams. Now that that's done... what was I saying? Oh yes. You shouldn't blame Bristol entirely. Most young people have a whole slew of interesting things teeming through their heads - especially young people who have had sex, and especially young people who know that everybody else knows that they've had sex. It just takes the right interviewer to bring it out, and this interviewer is not, unfortunately, the right interviewer.

Some of the fault probably belongs at the foot of the Van Sustainerenrer or whatever, and even at the foot of the news agency responsible. After all, when sex is staring you in the face, it's hard to make the interview boring. However, I think we can also lay this blame in general at the foot of the American journalistic tradition. I don't think I've seen a decent interview produced in this country in at least a decade. We are such utter fanboys; we interview people we like, and we make it clear that we like them while we interview them. The best case in point that I've found is the loathesome Terri Gross of NPR's program "Fresh Air." All of her interviews follow something of the same pattern:

Terri Gross: Our next interview is with Mr. X. Mr. X is a well-know Y who's recently recorded/published/written/filmed an album/article/book/documentary that caused a lot of controversy because bad people from a certain unfortunate segment of society thought it was bad even though it was obviously wonderful. I started talking with Mr. X yesterday by asking about his feelings...

Well, Mr. X. We've just heard a song/story/poem/snippet from your new album/article/book/documentary, and I'm wondering: I had this one observation that I was very proud of because I though it was extremely insightful, and I'd like you to validate it by saying that my observation is correct, but I also want to make it clear by the way I ask my question that I think you're just the tops, just so wonderful that I could never come close, so it's okay if you tell me I was full of shit, if you just please say so nicely so I know you don't hate me?


Mr. X: Urm, yes. You're right, that's kind of what I was trying to do there.

Terri Gross: That's wonderful. And I was also wondering, do you ever feel a bit intimidated by the fact that you're so golly-gee perfect? I mean, it must be tough walking around so awesome all the time.

Mr. X: Well, uh, I guess I get by.

Terri Gross: Another tough thing, I'll bet, is the fact that people probably don't understand your awesomeness, and they clearly haven't appreciated just how difficult it is to always be so awesome.

Mr. X: Yeah.


(Of course, this pattern changes slightly if it's some insufferably pretentious indie-rock band, in which case Terri Gross gets about three times as chummy and asks a lot of pointless questions about "meaning" and "depth" and "emotional resonance.")

All this is to say: American journalists don't know how to rip into their victim the way they should. I don't want to make it seem as though the English are good at anything at all, but in general their journalists actually do their job: they make their subjects uncomfortable in a revealing way. I think this has something to do with the fact that the English seem to have a strange fetish concerning making people feel uncomfortable. There are of course awful journalists in England as well as everywhere else, but I've seen more interviews with English journalists who ask the right questions - this is even more striking when one sees a journalist who can make politicians on both sides answer questions and stick to their story. When was the last time you heard an American journalist say, "wait a moment - that's not what you said a moment ago"?
posted by koeselitz at 1:28 PM on February 17, 2009 [34 favorites]


Shit, Koeselitz, that was the most spot-on critique of Fresh Air I've ever seen in my life. I've always wondered what I find so maddeningly irritating about her. Good work.
posted by docpops at 1:44 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awesome. The only bit you missed is the part where Terri Gross asks about some incident from Mr. X's childhood. Or the question she asks, and then answers for herself, and then asks again, and then rewords slightly and answers again and then trails off midsentence without once pausing for breath or letting the guest get a word in edgewise.
posted by ook at 1:45 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Terri Gross: Our next interview is with Mr. X. Mr. X is a well-know Y who's recently recorded/published/written/filmed an album/article/book/documentary that caused a lot of controversy because bad people from a certain unfortunate segment of society thought it was bad even though it was obviously wonderful. I started talking with Mr. X yesterday by asking about his feelings...

Well, Mr. X. We've just heard a song/story/poem/snippet from your new album/article/book/documentary, and I'm wondering: I had this one observation that I was very proud of because I though it was extremely insightful, and I'd like you to validate it by saying that my observation is correct, but I also want to make it clear by the way I ask my question that I think you're just the tops, just so wonderful that I could never come close, so it's okay if you tell me I was full of shit, if you just please say so nicely so I know you don't hate me?

Mr. X: Urm, yes. You're right, that's kind of what I was trying to do there.

Terri Gross: That's wonderful. And I was also wondering, do you ever feel a bit intimidated by the fact that you're so golly-gee perfect? I mean, it must be tough walking around so awesome all the time.

Mr. X: Well, uh, I guess I get by.

Terri Gross: Another tough thing, I'll bet, is the fact that people probably don't understand your awesomeness, and they clearly haven't appreciated just how difficult it is to always be so awesome.

Mr. X: Yeah.


Reprinted for effect. Just too damn good.

posted by docpops at 1:45 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why the fuck does anyone still care about this?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2009


In this case, I think you meant "boring." This interview is strangely boring.

"That's the trouble with everybody, you're all so bored! You've all had nature explained to you and you're bored with it, you had the living body explained to you and you're bored, you had the universe explained to you and you're bored with it. So now all you want is cheap thrills plenty of them and it doesn't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are, as long as they're new, as long as it's new, and fucking flashes and bleeps in forty different colors. Well no matter what else you can say about me, I'm not bored."
posted by pianomover at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2009


Ah, yes, I get it. You're jabbing at me using Naked. Well played.

But aren't the questions quite stupid? And isn't this exactly what a girl in her situation would say? I guess I'd just say that if there's anything interesting about this, I don't think it has anything to do with whose daughter she is. That's a curse she'll never get beyond, to be sure, but she's more interesting as a human being than as a political point.

And what I would like to hear is the question my aghast friend's mother asked when her sister announced at fifteen that she'd had sex:

'Well, was he any good?'

posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz, that was the most spot-on critique of Fresh Air I've ever seen in my life.

Koeselitz may be channeling (consciously or otherwise) Terry Eagleton's smackdown of "Fresh Air" in his work After Theory, as he makes many similar observations concerning Gross and her "work." I think it's in the preface or first chapter of Eagleton's book if you wanna peruse it or, like, whatever? I don't want to get into the details. heh.

And I agree with both Koeselitz and Eagleton.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:05 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the fuck does anyone still care about this?
Curious question, this meaning the above? This meaning the subject of the post?

Can the child of the wrong wing express the thoughts doubts fears and hopes of an age, that being 18?

For all the stutters and failed syntax, which will make the members of the Toastmasters meeting next Tuesday at the Lawrence Kansas Day's Inn cringe, one has to wonder has she moved beyond TV and into reality?
posted by pianomover at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sheesh, I'm getting old. It's not Eagleton, duh, it's Curtis White in The Middle Mind. But White's critique (if I recall correctly, which evidently I can't do as well as I used to) echoes what koeselitz had to say. Carry on.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:10 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, n-thing the whole "who gives a shit?" vibe here.

Sarah and Bristol and Wingspan and Dutch Boy and Persimmon were a totally concocted sideshow for the rubes on the campaign trail.

I could care less about this.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:10 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't want to make it seem as though the English are good at anything at all, but in general their journalists actually do their job: they make their subjects uncomfortable in a revealing way.

Sincere question: Then why do the subjects agree to the interview in the first place? As I see it, a large part of the problem in the US is that any hard-hitting interviewers quickly gain a reputation for being hard-hitting, and very soon politicians know not to do interviews with that interviewer, and the interviewer soon finds that no one is willing to be interviewed by him, and he's out of a job, while the politicians stick to softball interviewers. Having seen Frost/Nixon a few weeks ago, one of the things that struck me was that Nixon agreed to the interview only because Frost was seen as a soft interviewer; if Frost had had a reputation as a tough interviewer, Nixon and his camp never would have agreed to the interview in the first place. So why doesn't this problem arise in the UK?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why don't you people just not listen to radio shows you don't actually like? I have no idea who Terri Gross even is.

All this is to say: American journalists don't know how to rip into their victim the way they should. I don't want to make it seem as though the English are good at anything at all, but in general their journalists actually do their job: they make their subjects uncomfortable in a revealing way.

If they tried this, they wouldn't get any bookings. Whereas in the UK, since all reporters already do this there's no risk in continuing to do it. But that said, I'm not quite sure what the value is in making celebrities squirm like a cat being poked with a stick for your entertainment. When you say that U.K interviewers make their subjects "uncomfortable in a revealing way" well, I have to ask, why is whatever it is you think would be revealed be any of your business in the first place? I mean Bristol Palin? Do I care about her inner secrets and dark desires? No.
posted by delmoi at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2009


Can the child of the wrong wing express the thoughts doubts fears and hopes of an age, that being 18?

For all the stutters and failed syntax, which will make the members of the Toastmasters meeting next Tuesday at the Lawrence Kansas Day's Inn cringe, one has to wonder has she moved beyond TV and into reality?


Thank you, Thomas Pynchon. I guess I mean the first one, sort of: Why do we care about an interview with the teenaged daughter of a failed candidate for vice-president of the United States, on the occasion of the birth of her child?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:22 PM on February 17, 2009


Having seen Frost/Nixon a few weeks ago, one of the things that struck me was that Nixon agreed to the interview only because Frost was seen as a soft interviewer; if Frost had had a reputation as a tough interviewer, Nixon and his camp never would have agreed to the interview in the first place.

Nixon also got paid and got a cut of the royalties, so he actually had an incentive to make news.
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2009


Why do we care about an interview with the teenaged daughter of a failed candidate for vice-president of the United States, on the occasion of the birth of her child?

Good question, I certainly do not. Perhaps some sad child with a camcorder and a Youtube account can express the same feelings, unfortunately the odds say no one will here her.
posted by pianomover at 2:26 PM on February 17, 2009


DevilsAdvocate: It's a little like Kissinger's quote: "The only thing worse than being in Doonesbury is *not* being in Doonesbury".

IOW, if they're getting heat for not taking the heat, they'll do the interviews.
posted by lysdexic at 2:46 PM on February 17, 2009


Nixon got paid? What? That'll teach me to preview.
posted by lysdexic at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2009


When Van Susteren mentions abstinence in discussing Bristol's surprise pregnancy, Sarah Palin responded: "It sounds naive. Life happens."

Now, I couldn't get the entire video to load, so I don't have any context for this - but: Do we need to talk about the birds and the bees or something? I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that there is an exact set of circumstances that lead to "life happening". Don't act surprised when you have sex and there's a baby 9 months down the road.

Teenage mother Bristol Palin: "everyone should be abstinent but it's not realistic..."

Yeah, well, as someone who's (give or take a few years) the same age, I'm sorry that people can't make choices and stick with them. Look, be abstinent or not, but don't act like it's impossible. Because it's not. And it's unfortunate that people my age have a new poster child for "I'm a mother/father and I couldn't help it".

I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I doubt it.
I've made my choice, I'm sticking with it, and there won't be any unexpected kids being born anytime soon.
posted by niles at 2:49 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hello everybody. I just wanted to address a few words to all you angry, angry Democrat-bred politicos who are bitter about the fact that your precious election cycle is over now seeing as how there's nobody in the public eye anymore that you can regularly vent your hatred toward publicly without looking like a dweeb

gotta hand it to you, koeselitz, since you seem to be representing the party of "SOCIALIST! MUSLIM! NEGRO!" -- that is some first-rate projection you're engaging in there. bravo. you wear your cognitive dissonance proudly, like a badge.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I will bet any amount of money that Greta Van Susteren goes home every night and has long, heartfelt conversations with "Sarah" I:E, a picture taped to a soccer ball.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2009


Am I the only one that thinks the baby looks like an alien? (Based on the pictures they flicked on to the screen at the beginning)
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2009


DevilsAdvocate: Sincere question: Then why do the subjects agree to the interview in the first place?

I wish I knew. I've never even been to the UK; all I know is that they consistently produce great interviews.

A good example is the work of Jeremy Paxman. He is, of course, the most extreme in this regard, but seeing him do interviews is exhilerating, especially for those of us who spend our lives watching American interviewers. See, for example, here, an interview about UK politics that is probably a bit arcane for us Americans but which makes it clear how incredibly forward Paxman is. Skip to 4:00 in, where Paxman spends two entire minutes asking Michael Howard, a Member of Parliament, the same question over and over again twelve times because he feels that Mr. Howard isn't answering it. He also utters such gems as: "Do you seriously expect to be leader of your party?"

Some other Paxman moments that are great:

Paxman vs. Anne Coulter (interview begins at 2:00). Opening question: "Your publishers gave us Chapter One [of your book], Anne Coulter; I've read it. Does it get any better?"

Paxman vs. Israeli Ambassor Ron Proser. Opening question: "Is it really Israel's belief that if you pulverize Gaza enough, eventually the Palestinians there will say, 'oh dear, resistance is useless, let's be friends with the Israelis'?"

Paxman vs. John Bolton (interview starts at 1:40). Opening question: whether Bolton ever thought things would get this bad in Iraq. Bolton: "I did not, because I imagined largely that well before this point the United States would have turned responsibility for the governance and the security of Iraq back over to the Iraqis." Follow-up question: "So that was the big mistake, was it?"

Paxman vs. Richard Dawkins. Opening question: "Professor Dawkins, why are you so wound up about the role of faith in our society?"

Paxman vs. Jimmy Carter. Highlight: "You do believe [Hamas is] a terrorist organization, don't you? ... I mean, on that basis, you may as well talk to Al-Qaeda!"

Paxman vs. Alberto Gonzales (this was just a few days ago on the 4th).

Paxman vs. Condoleeza Rice. Highlight: "It's often said that at a political level women are much less likely to go to war, more likely to seek conciliation. And yet you personally have been responsible for prosecuting the war on terror, for policies like extraordinary rendition, and for locking people up for years without trial in places like Guantanamo Bay. How does that work?" It only gets better. "When history comes to judge this administration, it's going to judge it harshly, isn't it?"
posted by koeselitz at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2009 [16 favorites]


Hat Maui: gotta hand it to you, koeselitz, since you seem to be representing the party of "SOCIALIST! MUSLIM! NEGRO!" -- that is some first-rate projection you're engaging in there. bravo. you wear your cognitive dissonance proudly, like a badge.

I'm the only member of my silly party. I know it. I'm proud of it.

And we don't wear badges. We wear suspenders.

Also, I probably wasted too much space taking on Terri Gross and partisan punditry, but, well, the bug up one's ass speaks, and there's not much one can do but give it voice. I finally went ahead and posted it because I like the 'icy ammonia on Jupiter' metaphor, to be honest.
posted by koeselitz at 3:55 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi: I mean Bristol Palin? Do I care about her inner secrets and dark desires? No.

Methinks you vastly underestimate the intrigue, despair, drama, and heartache experienced by the daughters of prominent Republicans who get knocked up. If I were the interviewer, I might've tried carefully to ask her a few disguised questions about whether she feels any kind of anger toward her parents and the community she's part of on account of how she's been treated. I have a feeling she would have had a lot to say if she were cajoled in just the right way into opening her mouth on the subject.

And a few good solid direct questions about sex probably would have gotten her mind off of her prescribed talking points.
posted by koeselitz at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I has no idea you were a Paxman fan, koeselitz. You go up in my estimation even more.
posted by NailsTheCat at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having seen Frost/Nixon a few weeks ago, one of the things that struck me was that Nixon agreed to the interview only because Frost was seen as a soft interviewer; if Frost had had a reputation as a tough interviewer, Nixon and his camp never would have agreed to the interview in the first place. So why doesn't this problem arise in the UK?

It does, though seemingly to a lesser extent. The Today programme, Newsnight and Channel 4 News are the broadcast media arenas where you would normally expect the more rigorous interviews to take place. Certainly there are many instances of politicians declining the opportunity to appear on these programmes, or sending a junior representative in their stead.

What's interesting about the BBC and Channel 4 is that they are funded via the license fee. Considerably less so in the case of Channel 4 which is also funded by advertising, but they do have a public service remit which entitles them to license fee funding. I'm not sure this completely accounts for the difference, but I think it's a significant factor. That kind of funding essentially requires them to do it.

I've often thought that the long standing dominance of the BBC is a factor too. The BBC is huge, and they have dominated broadcast media in Britain since broadcasting began. Even in the era of hundreds of channels it's still true, and that kind of dominance sets the bar for everyone else. It skews the market to an incredible extent, but the losers in this arrangement are their media competitors and not necessarily the consumer.

I am very far from a media expert, this is just my two units of local currency.
posted by vbfg at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


When was the last time you heard an American journalist say, "wait a moment - that's not what you said a moment ago"?

Bob Schieffer and Tom Friedman interview of Donald Rumsfeld on Face the Nation, March 14, 2004 (emphasis added).
Schieffer: Let me just ask you this, if they did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?

Rumsfeld: You and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase "immediate threat." I didn't, the president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's what's happened.

Schieffer: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that?

Rumsfeld: I can't speak for everybody in the administration and say nobody said that.

Schieffer: The president didn't say that?

Rumsfeld: If you have any citations, I'd like to see them.

Friedman: Right here it says, "some have argued" ‑‑ this is you speaking -- "some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraqi is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons, I would not be so certain."

Rumsfeld: And ‑‑

Friedman: That's close to imminent.

Rumsfeld: Well, I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate.

Friedman: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people, and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
I realize this was almost five years ago, but it happens. (And we still re-elected Bush later that year.)

while the politicians stick to softball interviewers

One of the surprising things about the 2008 election was that people you might expect to be softball interviews--Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, the women on The View-- turned out to be Murderer's Row for McCain and Palin, although in Palin's case all they had to do was give her enough rope to hang herself.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:55 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Methinks you vastly underestimate the intrigue, despair, drama, and heartache experienced by the daughters of prominent Republicans who get knocked up.

I'm sure, but that dosn't explain why you feel entitled to have her despair, drama, and heartache served up for you on a silver platter, or why Bristol Palin would have any interest in providing it.

Not that I wouldn't find it interesting myself, and in the case of politicians I would certainly like to see tougher questions. But, I don't see why that should apply to people without power. If they don't want to share, why should they?
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on February 17, 2009


What's interesting about the BBC and Channel 4 is that they are funded via the license fee. Considerably less so in the case of Channel 4 which is also funded by advertising, but they do have a public service remit which entitles them to license fee funding.

By 'considerably less so', you mean 'not at all'.

Channel 4 was originally funded solely by the other ITV companies, in return for the right to sell advertising in Channel 4's slots.

Now though, Channel 4 is funded by advertising, sponsorship, sales of merchandise and the programmes they make, all of which it sells on its own behalf. They've never had any piece of the license fee, which goes exclusively to the BBC.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:03 PM on February 17, 2009


Tear Bristol Palin a new one any day of the week... but insult the fan-girl interview style of Terry Gross and I'll have to argue that point. And for those who want the uncomfortable audio: (1) (2) (3) ((2)
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:16 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I watched the Paxman interview with Dawkins. Nothing but softballs.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:33 PM on February 17, 2009


Everything else aside, the more teenagers in the public eye who (for whatever reason) get pregnant, then go on television saying that teen pregnancy isn't glamorous, that they wish they'd waited another ten years, and that being abstinent isn't really a practical choice...the better.

One thing that's very hard for parents to do is convince their children of these facts, because at some level admitting that raising children is difficult, unglamorous and potentially not a wise decision requires admitting (at least implicitly) that you at a parent feel that way about raising your own kids, the ones you're talking to at that moment. You can't fudge it with "oh, I love you and I'm so glad I had you, BUT" doesn't cut it, because one side of that argument is BS and kids know that -- they just don't know which one, and given the choice they'll assume the choice you made is the good one. Kind of like how you can't convince a teen that getting a car is more of a hassle than it's worth, if you yourself drive a car and won't give it up.

But a teenager, prominent in the media, who admits "wow, this is really hard, it's not at all like I thought it would be"? That is gold. And when they say "being abstinent isn't always practical", that's a wake-up call to parents: gee, I'd better talk about birth control and whatnot, because [famous person]'s child couldn't resist, and they probably had better opportunities than my kid's going to have.
posted by davejay at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


"That is gold." I couldn't agree more, davejay.

Three words I would choose to describe Bristol Palin in her tv turn: genuine, authentic, honest. Not words I often think about in the context of tv, let alone fox.

When McCain announced Bristol's mother as his VP pick, I was in my car. Listening to her so incensed me I called my husband to rail about it. I was among those not too few who thought perhaps Sarah's new baby was really daughter Bristol's, and I don't read tabloids or watch tv. It was in the, hmm, ether.

Bristol stands out on her own, says she didn't tell mom about the interview until "yesterday," and voices the absolute truth of glad you're here, beautiful baby mine, wish I'd (we'd) maybe had another ten years to grow up, get an education, have a house of our own (!) but bottom line is, here we are.

What a sanguine young lady. I take back (almost) everything I ever said about her mother, and I wish daughter, sire and son the best of everything.

Bristol would make the best poster child ever for Planned Parenthood, and no I am not kidding, snarky MeFites. I mean that. It is not easy to be a responsible teenager. Some might call it an oxymoron. (Please no moron jokes.) Contraception is no fun; I think we all know that. But it sure beats abstinence.
posted by emhutchinson at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2009


Fairness Doctrine

Ah, yes. Every opinion, regardless how crazy or stupid, must have the Exact Same Value. Scientists, psychics, and Neanderthals all should get the same media opportunities. No One Is An Expert.

The last thing we need an is an egalitarian government. It's time to kick dumbshits and greedheads out and put Real Thinkers in office. We got shit that needs doing and we're letting idiots hold us back!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2009


One thing that's very hard for parents to do is convince their children of these facts, because at some level admitting that raising children is difficult, unglamorous and potentially not a wise decision requires admitting (at least implicitly) that you at a parent feel that way about raising your own kids, the ones you're talking to at that moment. You can't fudge it with "oh, I love you and I'm so glad I had you, BUT" doesn't cut it, because one side of that argument is BS and kids know that -- they just don't know which one, and given the choice they'll assume the choice you made is the good one. Kind of like how you can't convince a teen that getting a car is more of a hassle than it's worth, if you yourself drive a car and won't give it up.

How dumb are these kids supposed to be? I mean, I'm sure they can understand that having kids at 26 is entirely different then having them at 16.

As far as the fairness doctrine goes, I've never understood how that could work other then in an enforced two-party system. I mean, would that mean equal time for 9/11 truthers and Obama is a Muslim types? Plus, the internet gives everyone a voice.
posted by delmoi at 7:55 PM on February 17, 2009


Nixon also got paid and got a cut of the royalties, so he actually had an incentive to make news.

What makes you think Bristol didn't get paid?

I realize Bristol is young, and what she says about abstinence is interesting, and needs to be said by someone in her position. However, Jesus FUCK can we not ask her such incredibly inane questions?

"Gosh being a mother is hard huh" "Has your family helped"

Fuck you Greta.
posted by graventy at 8:17 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inane questions unfortunately abound.

"And how did that make you feel?" has got to be the stupidest and most common question ever-see plane wrecks, murder sprees, etc. etc. etc.

Greta's twisted mouth directly contrastsd with newly madonnaed Bristol's harmonious face.

16 vs. 26, sorry Delmoi, I usually agree with you, but you must not spend much time around teenagers, or children of any age. Thems does not think like the olderbeens among us, no they does not. They are on another planet. I know, once upon a time I lived there too, but I lived to tell the tale, or a tale anyway.
posted by emhutchinson at 8:32 PM on February 17, 2009


Every opinion, regardless how crazy or stupid, must have the Exact Same Value. Scientists, psychics, and Neanderthals all should get the same media opportunities.

Funny, I'm against the "Fairness“ Doctrine as well, but for exactly the opposite reason. Got a politician on who says we should pass a $787 billion stimulus package? Great, now you just need to find one who says we should have a $786 billion package and call it an opposing viewpoint—which it is, technically. There are a dozen or more sides to most arguments, but the Fairness Doctrine pretends there's only two.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:43 PM on February 17, 2009


I would pay for cable if their pundits wee as insightful as the metafilter pundits.

that's not a compliment. (but I still like ya'll)
posted by el io at 9:44 PM on February 17, 2009


mmm... pundit wee.
posted by taz at 10:36 PM on February 17, 2009


They've never had any piece of the license fee, which goes exclusively to the BBC.

Yep, my mistake. This stuff got me confused.
posted by vbfg at 12:46 AM on February 18, 2009


How dumb are these kids supposed to be? I mean, I'm sure they can understand that having kids at 26 is entirely different then having them at 16.

these days, we're talking about 13-14, and even at 16 an ill-informed teenager is likely to have a very scattershot view of what raising a child entails, just like they have a very scattershot view of what sex is and how it works.
posted by davejay at 4:10 AM on February 18, 2009


I think the reason we produce Paxman (and others) is a feature of having few channels. There are three broadcasters that actually matter - the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. (Yes, we have another terrestrial channel, but it isn't taken that seriously. We also have sky and cable - but these only have a fraction of the viewing figures). And all three know that tearing politicians apart generates high viewing figures.

Which means that if a politician wants an audience of millions (and many of them do) they have only a few choices. The first is to try taking on Paxman (who gets audience figures because we enjoy politics being a blood sport). The second is to try stepping into the slightly softer rifle range at Chanel 4 (not much softer, and far fewer viewers). The third involves either less in depth news broadcasts (in which they are lucky to get two sentences), entertainment (in which they aren't taken seriously - see "Chatshow Charlie", former leader of the Liberal Democrats, or Boris Johnson), or one of the less mainstream stations (for which they aren't taken seriously and don't get to speak to many people).

There's also a fourth option. The Today Programme on Radio 4 (audience around 6 million - a lot of people wake up to it). John Humphreys is probably scarier than Jeremy Paxman (less bark, more bite). In addition to the audience size (around 10% of the population, and disproportionately elderly and middle class - i.e. likely to vote) a significant proportion of the senior and ambitious Civil Service listens to it. Which means that the people any minister works with most closely will hear anything he says there - and will be impressed if he performs well. And if the minister chickens out, no senior or ambitious civil servant would ever be so gauche as to cluck out loud. But they would know, and the minister would know they would know.
posted by Francis at 5:32 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am disappointed that Bristol did not name the kid Daytona.

And then Daytona could name HER kid Talladega.

It's the Circle of NASCAR.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


*scottish accent* We named the DOG Talladega.

“Paxman vs. Condoleeza Rice. Highlight: "It's often said that at a political level women are much less likely to go to war, more likely to seek conciliation. And yet you personally have been responsible for prosecuting the war on terror, for policies like extraordinary rendition, and for locking people up for years without trial in places like Guantanamo Bay...”
...and you have certain mannish features - do you in fact, have a penis?

Y’know the old joke about the difference between a pregnant woman and a light bulb being you can’t unscrew a lightbulb?
I’d have to say the same for Palin’s kids.

“You can't fudge it with "oh, I love you and I'm so glad I had you, BUT" doesn't cut it, because one side of that argument is BS and kids know that...”

Yeah. I’d have to take a slightly different tack on that bit of it. I wholly agree with you that teenagers should be more visible about the downsides of pregnancy at that age and the practical realities of protection (and the stupidity of abstainance only). But as lousy as cleaning up poop is, getting up 5x’s in the middle of the night to crying, puke, cries and pleas to sleep in your bed only to pee on you at 3 am so you have to change the sheets while they giggle, all that unglamorous and hard stuff - it is worth it.
It’s just not something you can deal with well at a young age.
It’s that, I think, a lot of kids don’t get. How someone else can handle something and they can’t. Too often people put the “because I’m older” thing on them.
But they miss the “because I have sophisticated self-support systems, emotional stability and other support systems in place that you don’t have yet.”
I mean I’ve had people come up to me and say “wow, how did you take that guy down?” incredulous because they realize they couldn’t do it. And I say “I’ve trained in this for years.” And it doesn’t seem to stick with some people. That there’s background work there. That you have to lay a foundation and it’s not just about the effort itself.

Doing certain things for years, at a given intensity, changes you. I’m a completely different person than I was before I had kids. Far more cautious. I’m still pretty fearless, but my life, health, all that, is no longer just mine to risk so my decision making is radically different.
I think a lot of kids don’t get how much not only their lives will change, but how they will change.
Pretty sure I’ll talk to my kids about having sex before they’re ready. But I’m pretty much going to be Joe Gestapo when it comes to making sure they have condoms, et.al.

“How dumb are these kids supposed to be?”

Hormones make you stupid. Hell, I’m still that way. It’s just that I’ve got enough freight from life to slow me down. Hard part is women hit their sexual peak around 30 (or so I’ve heard), so now you’ve got it coming the other way (although, y’know, the wedding ring and the baby seat in the jeep seems to keep the women away when I cruise, like, the mall).
You can have kids at too old an age as well (my wife is on the pill, but I’ve thought about getting fixed).
I mean who wants to be the 73 year old dad at your kids high school graduation?
(Although apparently that doesn’t apply to some movie folks)

What’s funky is that Bristol Palin is sort of a poster child anyway. I mean - what *was* the message in their house? Sex is one thing. But acting responsibly - while related - is a whole other set of actions. You wear your seat belt. You don’t drink and drive. Etc. etc. etc. - all those behaviors instilled by discipline are supposed to protect you.
Perhaps it’s obvious and crass to say it, but the Palin’s don’t walk what they talk.
As to that - what was the boy’s parents teaching him? Not to wear a condom? Why didn’t he have one?
I think that there is where it breaks down. You can’t tell kids not to have sex and purposely not allow them protection otherwise this happens.
On the other hand, there’s this sort of schizophrenic message where parents say “don’t have sex!...(but if you do...)”

I think it’s not easy to be a responsible teenager, in part because of the tittilation in society - we don’t allow real eroticism to be shown really. (And I think real eroticism scares some people). So there’s this presumption that sex is bound with things it’s really not.
That coupled with the lack of sense of self. I mean - virtue is yours, it belongs to you. Not just chastity, but fidelity and compassion - all virtues. There’s no reason to relinquish that, ever. I don’t think having sex, in this day and age, should be a concession. It should be decisive.
Of course, that’s ‘should.’ Practically speaking though, responsibility isn’t highly valued. And I think it’s in part because so many people are imitative (not a bad thing, just sayin’ - sociologically people tend to imitate each other) and what’s broadly seen as valuable is commodification. Not a strong sense of self.
But it’s always going to be tough at that age because teenagers want the pretense of adulthood. Not the reality. As davejay somewhat alluded to. They want the freedom of the car without the hassle of oil changes and filling it with gas.
You get a teenager who is actually more adult, and they’re going to have a rough time of it with their peers who are still living 90% in the fantasy in their own heads.
...which brings us back neatly to Sarah Palin.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:14 PM on February 18, 2009


Err - strike that 'lightbulb,' reverse it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:15 PM on February 18, 2009


. However, I think we can also lay this blame in general at the foot of the American journalistic tradition... We are such utter fanboys... The best case in point that I've found is the loathesome Terri Gross of NPR's program "Fresh Air."

SInce when is Terri Gross meant to represent investigative journalism? She does a program about what's new in entertainment! I perfectly well understand not liking her, but she just chooses work she thinks is good, and meets those people to discuss what they've produced in more depth. It's a specialty show; she doesn't review everyone, and basically only interviews people she thinks are interesting enough to get to know further. If you have taste similar to hers, you get to hear details about how these people work and think.

This is nothing at all to do with journalists who are meant to interview whoever is making news, and ask tough questions.
posted by mdn at 4:27 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's about one journalist who has such a hard on for the Palins that she's only a few steps from going all Single White Female by way of Psycho.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 PM on February 19, 2009


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