You won't have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore

Politicians who took one last whack at the press on their way out the door


Vincent Rossmeier
July 27, 2009 3:28PM (UTC)

Sarah Palin marked the end of her tenure as Alaska governor Sunday with a speech to her state -- and a broad swipe at the press, saying:

You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession, that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?

Later, referencing her clash with David Letterman, she said, "One other thing for the media, our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone."

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Palin isn't alone in blaming the messenger on her way out of office. Here's a look at some of the politicians who whacked the media on their way out the door -- or once they'd already walked through it.

  • Richard Nixon: One of the most famous diatribes given by a politician against the media occurred after Nixon lost the California governor race in 1962. Following his loss to Democrat Pat Brown, Nixon held a press conference in which he uttered his iconic jab at journalists: 

Lastly, I leave you gentlemen now, and you will write it, you will interpret it. That's your right. But as I leave you, I want you to know -- just think how much you're going to be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because gentlemen, this is my last press conference.

  • Gary Hart: While running for president in 1987, the press hounded Hart, a Colorado Democrat, about whether he had had extramarital affairs. Finally, the scrutiny proved too much for Hart and he withdrew from the race -- but not before he gave the press an earful. Speaking about the press and the political process, Hart said he was ''angry and defiant'' and warned that, "Too much of it is just a mockery, and if it continues to destroy people's integrity and honor, then that system will eventually destroy itself ... Clearly, under the present circumstances, this campaign cannot go on. I refuse to submit my family and my friends and innocent people and myself to further rumors and gossip. It's simply an intolerable situation.''
  • Tom DeLay: In announcing that he would resign from his seat in the U.S. Congress in 2006, the former Republican majority leader had a word for his critics in the press: "With the news of my decision, there of course will be great speculation among the political pundits and media about my reasons both for this decision and its timing. I'm quite certain most will put forth their opinions and conclusions devoid of and unencumbered by accuracy, facts and truth."
  • Jesse Ventura: After departing from office as Minnesota's governor in 2003, the former wrestler and bodybuilder said that the media's relentless hounding of him was a major factor in his not seeking a second term in office. Referring to his critics, he told the Boston Globe that if it were not for his family, he would have run again and "stuck it down their throats." He added:

"A third-party candidate is never treated equally ... They look at you as a novelty, as cannon fodder. 'This is entertaining,' they think, 'but we'll go back to the Democrats and Republicans, because only they can run our government.' Which is baloney. Having been a villain in wrestling, my relationship with the media has always been rocky. They don't view wrestling for what it really is, entertainment."

  • John Rowland: The former Republican governor of Connecticut took blame for the corruption scandals that led him to resign from office in 2004. However, that didn't stop his wife from creating a satirical Christmas poem based on Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit From St. Nicholas" that criticized the media for her husband's problems. In the poem, Rowland wrote of the media: "They used to be good girls and boys, Santa said. But the poison pen's power has gone to their head."
  • Larry Craig: In his initial reaction to the bathroom footsie scandal, the former U.S. senator from Idaho decried what he called a media "witch hunt" by the Idaho Statesman, which had been investigating rumors about Craig. "In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman's investigation and the rumors it has fueled around Idaho."

Remember a good example of a politician bashing the press on the way out? Write it up it in the Comments below and we'll add it if it checks out.


Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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