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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Holly Hunter Has Good Advice for Sarah Palin, Too

April 2, 2010

There is a classic scene in the 1986 movie Broadcast News when local news anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt) privately laments to news producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), that he is being paid a large sum of money for simply being telegenic and charismatic.

The anchorman admits to Craig that he does not understand much about what he is reporting on, and internalizes the situation by rhetorically asking, "I don’t know what to do." Craig is expressionless, and provides him with great deadpan advice: "don’t tell anyone".

So it is as we continue to watch Sarah Palin, who is without a doubt, one of the world’s most favorite politicians. She is appealing because - whether you are on the political right or left - people want to talk about her and cannot seem to get enough of her.

This is an amazing compliment, and speaks volumes as to why she is in such high demand on the political lecture circuit, and as a television host or commentator.

Since abruptly leaving the Alaska Governor’s office with two years to go in her first term, she has made millions in book deals, lecture fees, as a Fox News analyst, television host, and reality television star.

There seems to be no end to her celebrity activities and, in the end, it will make her a very wealthy individual. She has gone down a commercial path so many others envy - to make herself into a commodity, or "brand", no different from General Foods or Nabisco, aka Sarah Palin Inc.

This is the same career path as Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Bill O’Reilly, and others - all of whom intertwine their primary business (i.e. real estate, golf, the media) with a series of activities designed to increase their marketability with the public. The one aim: to make themselves into a commercially successful and recognizable "brand".

Each enterprise is designed to support the other. Donald Trump’s successful real estate business is aided by his successful presence on television, and up until his latest troubles, the same could be said about Tiger Woods.

All of this brings us to a political query about Sarah Palin - the one question everyone asks, ponders, and debates: is Ms. Palin going to be a candidate for President and, if so, when?

The answer to the question is not important, especially to Ms. Palin, but rather that it continues to be asked. It is an important part of her "brand" strategy that people wonder aloud, if and when, she will run for the presidency.

Richard Nixon once said that politicians are relevant as long as they can "do something to someone or for someone". Ms. Palin understands this, and knows she is relevant to Democrats, Republicans, and the media, so long as she one day might be a candidate for President.

While Ms. Palin may not yet know if she’ll ever run for President, there is little doubt that by keeping that prospect alive, she also keeps her ‘brand’ appeal strong, and all this supports her money making activities, such as books, lectures, television appearances, and political commentary.

In Broadcast News, local anchor Tom Grunick was successful, and looked great in front of a camera, reading from a teleprompter. Despite his own insecurities, his newscast ratings soared and he had a huge following.

News producer Jane Craig put it in perspective for him, when she advised that he not tell anyone about his insecure feelings, and keep the great gig going.

The same might be said about Sarah Palin, and her decision to stay mum on whether she’ll be a candidate for President.

There’s little advantage to saying, and she too, can keep the gig going.