Don't the Palin haters realize they're actually making Bristol and Sarah more popular? If the critics stopped, wouldn't that whole family have to go away?
—RRed2, via the inbox
You speak as if the Palins were just another buncha folks, shooting animals out of helicopters like every other normal family, when the elite started whalin' on 'em outta nowhere, forcing them to defend themselves.
But that's not how the family rolls, as Sarah Palin likes to say...
The Palins don't just field criticisms. They invite them, need them, even.
So, even if gay rights advocates didn't criticize Willow for making that homophobic slur, even if Kathy Griffin hadn't pointed out that Bristol looked like a cross between Carol Channing and a land orca on Dancing With the Stars, even if Margaret Cho hadn't revealed that the Mama Grizzly was behind Bristol's televised reign of excellently choreographed terror...
The Palins still would find a way to keep themselves in the spotlight. Regardless. Their Mom likes being famous way, way too much. And she knows that for her family, any PR is good PR.
Yes, criticizing the Palins does make things worse for people who want the family to go away—every time a Griffin or Cho opens her mouth, the Palins get more press.
"Without question, these criticisms take on a life of their own," former OK magazine editor and Cover Awards founder Mark Pasetsky tells me. "Whenever the Palins respond—whenever they say anything—it becomes a big firestorm."
But let's suppose there were no Chos or Griffins. Wouldn't make a difference, Palin watchers say.
"The idea that you can leave the Palins alone and you'll never hear from them is, for their opponents, way too wishful thinking," says James Lee, former campaign press deputy for President George H.W. Bush. "The Palins would always find a controversy to sink their fingers into.
"I don't know whether the family is so conscious that they have a Palin brand," says Lee, who now runs his own consultancy. "But if they do, they are going to do everything they can to keep it awake and alive."
And even if celebrities stop picking on the Palins, the media certainly won't stop covering them.
"The two sides need each other; it's almost like the symbiotic relationship between a remora and a shark," Lee tells me.
In other words, the Palins will always court controversy—and some idiot in the media or blogosphere, if not the celebrity world, will always take the bait.