Kathy Shaidle

Hot Post: British reporter’s anti-Palin Tea Party dispatch sounds frankly made up

Posted on August 1 2010 7:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."

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Editors Note: On Sundays we’re going to start a new feature where we re-publish some of the most popular and important posts of the week for those who might have missed them. This post from Kathy Shaidle was originally published here on July 25

In Evelyn Waugh’s 1938 comic novel Scoop, a foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail finds himself covering an African civil war that inconveniently declines to provide British reporters with much in the way of juicy (or, more accurately, bloody) stories. Undeterred, said British reporters simply make them up.

Which, of course, would never happen in real life…

Today finds a real life Daily Mail reporter, Jane Fryer, dispatched to the wilds of Kansas to make fun of cover the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. Ms. Fryer adopts the semi-detached attitude of another observant “Jane” — name of Goodall.

About three paragraphs in, my B.S. Detector went off. Eventually, I had to unscrew the back of the thing and pull the batteries out, just so I could read her whole story.

And what a story Ms Fryer has filed. A tale of angry, elderly “Tea Baggers” muttering about Obama being a secret communist Muslim, while passing around plates of homemade cookies between (ew!) prayers. It begins:

It is eight in the evening and 86 degrees and, so far, my new friends have carefully laid out some chocolate chip cookies, said a prayer, pledged allegiance to the flag and had a good old rant about President Obama and what they call ‘his evil communist dictatorial government’.

Now everyone’s getting very excited about Sarah Palin. Particularly a large man called Herb who has a farmer’s tan, a cheek full of tobacco and a very pink face.


‘What’s more, she’s got good old common horse sense, as we call it round here,’ chips in his white-haired neighbour. ‘She tells it like it is. And she can shoot and skin a moose! Not many world leaders can do that.’

Goodness, I say. Very quietly and to myself.

Because while here in Sharon Mrs Palin is worshipped, outside America she is widely viewed as a figure of fun  —  the batty Alaskan ex-Governor who supposedly didn’t know Africa was a continent, thought she could see Russia from her front lawn and whose tawdry domestic life is a cross between Desperate Housewives and Alaskan comedy Northern Exposure.

Where to start? The “Africa” story is a third hand rumor spread by unnamed McCain staffers not known for their affection for Palin.

And Ms Fryer is evidently the last sentient being who doesn’t “get” that the “Russia” remark was the punchline of a SNL sketch and not an authentic Palin quote.

Soon we’re introduced to “Tom” who wears “a ten-gallon hat” and says to Fryer, “Which is where Sarah Palin comes in. She’s a proper leader.”

Unless “Tom” and his “ten-gallon hat” did their post-grad at Oxford or Cambridge, I can’t figure out how he picked up the adjective “proper” while residing in Kansas. Maybe he gets Coronation Street on his satellite dish. (Of an evening.)

Then one individual supposedly informs Fryer that Obama is “not fit to be a hair on Abraham Lincoln’s rear end.” I ask you…

We’re subsequently treated to a typical British slam at Palin for committing the venal sin of getting rich (something it is much harder to do in England):

In less than a year, she’s made more than £10 million from her memoirs, Going Rogue, charges £70,000 per speech and has reportedly developed diva tendencies to go with it  —  insisting on first-class travel or private jet ‘of at least the size of a Lear 60’ and, inexplicably, insists on bendy straws for her bottled water.

Ah yes, those world historical bendy straws.

Along with being somewhat affronted that other areas of the world are, you know, warm in the summer, Ms Fryer is one of those provincial cum sophisticated British reporters who’s both disgusted and fascinated by the trappings of success, such as the “riders” — many far stranger than those — embedded in every celebrity’s public appearance contracts.

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