The Palins' problems with social media

Faith Merino · January 13, 2011 · Short URL:

If we all do a mass unfriending, they might stop posting

The Palins have had a rocky history with social media.  These days it seems like every time they make the news, it’s for some tweet or status update.  And this week, we have yet another golden Sarah Palin Facebook nugget to add to the vault. 

On Wednesday, Sarah Palin posted a video statement on her Facebook page to address accusations that her political rhetoric is partially to blame for the recent shootings in Tuscon, Arizona.  Unfortunately, while she spoke with poise and collection seated before a fireplace with an American flag in the background, the video may have just done more harm than good. 

“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Palin said in her statement.  “Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”


A number of organizations and political observers are now criticizing Palin for being insensitive and crass in her use of the term “blood libel,” which historically refers to the false accusation that Jews kill Christian children and use their blood in evil cult rituals.  The accusation has historically been used to incite violence against Jews.

Palin’s statement has come at a time when a number of political figures, Democrat and Republican alike, are calling for calmer political rhetoric following the Tuscon shootings. 

Coincidentally, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who miraculously survived a gunshot wound to the head, is Jewish.

“We hope that Governor Palin will recognize, when it is brought to her attention, that the term ‘blood libel’ brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds,” said pro-Israel group J Street in a statement on Wednesday.  “When Governor Palin learns that many Jews are pained by and take offense at the use of the term, we are sure that she will choose to retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words.”

The Anti-Defamation League has come to Palin’s defense, but acknowledged that her choice of words was unfortunate: “Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.  Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood-libel’ in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term ‘blood-libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.”

This is not the first time (nor, I’m sure, will it be the last) that Palin has gotten into trouble over something she posted on Facebook.  Ever since the Tuscon shootings reverberated across the nation on January 8, Palin and her charged political rhetoric have been the subject of much scrutiny over how much responsibility can be assigned to vitriolic political discourse for the violence in Arizona.  But of particular interest to a number of observers is a political map Palin posted on her Facebook in early 2010 which featured gun-sights over 20 democratic districts that voted for the healthcare bill.  The names of the representatives of those districts—of which Gabrielle Giffords was also mentioned—were listed below, with red marks matching red gun-sights over the districts of democratic representatives who had already announced their retirement. 

The map sounds trivial until you see the red crosshairs… It’s creepy.  The map was part of a campaign to rally conservative support to take back those districts in 2010 during the midterms, and Palin promoted the campaign with tweets that said things like “Don’t retreat! Reload!”

But Sarah isn’t the only Palin who has gotten into hot water over her activities on Facebook and Twitter.  Back in November, 16-year-old Willow made headlines for using Facebook the way it was meant to be used: trash-talking old high school classmates.  In a thread rife with jokes about Sarah Palin’s TV show and Bristol’s weight, young Willow took to the thread and threw around a slew of homophobic slurs that caught the attention of several major news organizations, who accused the Palins’ as a whole of homophobia (Bristol later apologized for Willow’s comments).

And then of course, there’s poor Bristol, whose love life has been documented meticulously on Facebook and Twitter and will thus live on in the annals of Web history (lucky for her, they don’t last long).  There were family feuds on Facebook, with ex-flame Levi Johnston’s sister Mercede taking to Facebook to blast the short-lived Levi-Bristol engagement over the summer, railing, “It’s heartbreaking, my brother got taken away from us successfully once again.”

The blogs lit up once more in December when Levi Johnston’s relationship status on Facebook went from single to “in a relationship.”  With whom?  Sunny Oglesby!  Who is she?  Doesn’t matter.  What everyone really wanted to know was: What will Bristol say?!  Bristol had no Facebook update status to comment on Levi’s new romance.  Nor did she tweet about it. 

Even MySpace has served as a stage for Palin controversy.  Back in 2008, when Sarah Palin had just been tapped as John McCain’s running mate, MySpace still ruled supreme in the social media space, and baby-daddy Levi Johnston’s MySpace page was the source of much controversy.  What got everyone whipped up into a tizzy?  Johnston’s profile revealed that he was “in a relationship” but that he didn’t want kids (remember that option?).

We’re going on three years now with the Palins’ crazy Facebook status updates and tweets, and it doesn’t look like those tweets and updates are going away any time soon. 

So here’s what I propose: We all need to do a mass unfriending.  Don’t all do it at once—then she’ll know, and she’ll unfriend us first.  It needs to be subtle and a little passive-aggressive.  We’ll start with North Dakota and then move centrifugally outward.  One day, Sarah will go on Facebook to check her news feed and find out that Dwayne from Des Moines, Iowa is no longer in her friends list. 

It might take a couple years, but trust me, this will work. 


Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes