Alas, the bygone ‘Sarah who?’

Celeb politicians crowd constructive stories and sources out of news.

Sarah PalinâÄôs appearance at a fundraiser and rally for Rep. Michele Bachmann on Wednesday will undoubtedly draw attention in the media, but how much, and is it merited? News businesses need consumers, and a story about polarizing national figures like Bachmann and Palin will attract a lot of viewers and readers; itâÄôs a crass commercial reality. Still, too few people step back to critically ask whether âÄúcelebrityâÄù itself deserves the media attention it garners: ItâÄôs simply more fun to love or hate. For example, a research fellow at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs found that a full 20 percent of the online-only Minnesota IndependentâÄôs stories in the last six months were about Michele Bachmann. Why donâÄôt state Reps. Keith Ellison or John Kline get that kind of press? Neither Bachmann nor Palin have the policy track-record to merit the media currency they receive. Bachmann has represented MinnesotaâÄôs 6th congressional district for just over three years, and Palin has never held national office, although she was the governor of Alaska and, almost as briefly, a Republican vice presidential candidate. Now, Palin has a contract with a major television opinion outlet, Fox News, from which Michele Bachmann also all-too-frequently invades the American psyche. In fact, 20 of BachmannâÄôs 47 missed House votes between January 2009 and March 2010 coincide directly with media appearances. The fact is that we have a wealth of more knowledgeable, more articulate and more experienced public officials to attend to, both in Minnesota and nationally. For news (opinion) producers and consumers alike, itâÄôs worth asking: WhatâÄôs so special about our darling Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin?