Sunday, August 02, 2009

# Posted 2:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PALIN: ANATOMY OF THE DIVORCE RUMOR. The Orlando Sentinel reports on an Alaska blog's claim that Sarah Palin is getting a divorce:
The No. 1 search term in Google right now is “sarah palin divorce.” The reason? A couple of bloggers in Alaska posted stories this morning claiming to have inside information that former Gov. Sarah Palin is divorcing her husband, Todd.

The bloggers went on to claim that Sarah Palin plans to leave the state, possibly moving to Montana...

The story, naturally, is getting attention on politics blogs, but nothing has moved on the wires at this hour. This looks like one that will burn up the blogs on the Internet for a few hours but not make it into print outside the tabloids.

CBS News appears to be the only mainstream media weighing in on the issue on its news page online rather than just in a blog. This story on its politics page (and on web sites of its affiliates) adds a quote from one Palin attorney, who says the divorce story is “categorically false” and another Palin lawyer who says the rumors are “totally untrue.”

CBS News goes further to tamp down the rumor by quoting its own political director as saying that Palin often campaigned without her wedding ring. And a CBS News producer who followed Palin on the campaign trail says that the claim that the Palins weren’t talking to each other at last weekend’s picnics “appears to be untrue.” The online story, though, does not note on what basis the producer made that assessment. Was he there last weekend or is he reporting what his sources are telling him?

CBS also says Palin may make a statement herself later today.
This is one of those stories where truth will out. Either she's getting a divorce or she isn't. But it's fascinating to watch how this kind of story develops now that the web ensures instant distribution, forcing the media to respond, rather than acting as gatekeepers who can determine when a story breaks.

My best guess is the story's not true. Others, like Kathy, are taking it very seriously. Given the kind of things that get said about Sarah Palin, a fair amount of skepticism seems to be in order.

PLUS: Jonathan Martin writes, "By having her spokeswoman repeat the charges to rebut them in a public form, Palin effectively guaranteed coverage from the mainstream media that otherwise would not report claims attributed to unnamed sources on an anonymous blog."

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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