Newsweek Touts Palin’s Wonky Insights on the Price of Slim Jims

Will the outrages ever stop?

Newsweek‘s “I Can Win” cover story about Sarah Palin is awful.

But Palin fans will have a hard time trying to figure out how to square this puff piece with the notion that the mainstream media is out to get Palin.

The premise is that Palin could run for president–and win. Because, well, that’s what she says. That’s sort of the theme for the whole article, as it is full of quotes and observations from Palin family members and associates who are trying to ‘set the record straight’ about her political career. Like how she was actually a quite moderate governor with a commendable record. But on the national stage, something changed as soon as she stepped into the 2008 campaign:

Palin’s eagerness for the fray lifted a dispirited Republican base and instigated an outsize response from liberal critics.

That’s about the closest the article comes to Palin criticism–noting comments from overreacting liberals. But the press was guilty of getting down in the sewer and going after her family:

The press’s fascination with this picturesque brood quickly turned so darkly speculative that candidate Barack Obama threatened to fire anyone in his campaign found participating in the conjectures.

This was one of Palin’s first disingenuous attacks on the media. There was never much, if any, coverage of these theories that her baby wasn’t really hers. But there was chatter on the Internet, which Palin turned into an attack on the press.

But the best part might be when reporter Peter Boyer tried to substantiate the claim from Palin advisers that she’s actually really up to speed on the issues.

Palin has also become conversant on the subject of quantitative easing, the inflationary effects of which she illustrated with a personal anecdote. “I was ticked off at Todd yesterday” she said. “He walks into a gas station as we’re driving over from Minnesota. He buys a Slim Jim–we’re always eating that jerky stuff–for $2.69. I said, ‘Todd, those used to be 99 cents, just recently!’ And he says, ‘Man, the dollar’s worth nothing anymore.’ A jug of milk and a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs–every time I walk into that grocery store, a couple of pennies more.”

Newsweek is suggesting that Palin’s jerky tale offers a serious insight into the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing, which involves buying Treasury securities to bring down long-term interest rates and stimulate the economy. Republicans and conservatives insist this will cause disastrous inflation, but there’s no evidence that this is happening; David Leonhardt’s New York Times piece a few months ago (3/30/11) actually showed that core inflation is remarkably low right now, especially compared to the 1980s. (Over the last 12 months, core inflation was 1.5 percent.)

So, contrary to what Newsweek would have you believe, Palin’s monitoring of Slim Jim prices do not provide particularly useful insight into the inflationary impact of Federal Reserve policy–or any evidence of Palin’s supposed mastery of policy wonkery.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.