Researching Palin's past is news media's duty

You can't have it both ways.

If you're going to nominate someone for vice president who is unknown to most Americans – because she is a fresh face and a Washington outsider – you can't at the same time blame journalists looking into the newcomer's background.

Yet that's been a theme undergirding this week's media bashfest in St. Paul.

It isn't fair, cry the GOP spinmeisters, to bring up the family of Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They cry this during the few moments they can spare between releasing oodles of photos of Gov. Palin and her family and giving them all prime seats in front of the TV cameras.

It isn't fair – unless Gov. Palin does it herself as she did Wednesday night talking about the birth of baby Trigg in April and introducing all her family by name.

It certainly isn't fair to mention her pregnant 17-year-old unwed daughter – nor to mention that Gov. Palin opposes teaching sex education in schools. But why, then, is it perfectly OK to mention that son Track heads to Iraq with the Army on (surely this is coincidence) Sept. 11?

The glassy-eyed GOPers complain that the nasty “elite media,” are questioning Gov. Palin's qualifications to step into the Oval Office if needed. They might have mentioned that talking point to former McCain campaign manager Michael Murphy and prominent Republican columnist Peggy Noonan. They were caught on air Wednesday saying Gov. Palin was not the most qualified pick and Sen. McCain's choice was “political b---s--- about narratives,” and “cynical.”

Those media-bashers need to get out more. It's voters who are asking questions – at beauty parlors, bridge parties, around the water cooler, in letters to the editor and online blog comments. Journalists are expected to ignore them? Come on.

After all, millions of Americans were rightly steamed when the major national news media didn't ask enough questions before the U.S. invaded Iraq on the pretext that it had weapons of mass destruction.

And you haven't noticed those GOP media bashers whining about coverage of Democrat Barack Obama's relationship with Chicago developer Tony Rezko, later convicted on federal corruption charges.

To suggest journalists shouldn't look into Sarah Palin's background is silly partisan rhetoric If you see the value in reporters asking questions in the public interest, then you'll see the value doing it all the time, not just when it makes your political opponents look bad.