While America's respectable media focus on John McCain's acceptance speech to the Republican faithful, blogs and gossip sites continue to lead the feeding frenzy surrounding the National Enquirer's allegation, reported here yesterday, that McCain's running mate Sarah Palin had an affair with her husband's business partner.
Alaskan Abroad, the blog of an Alaskan journalist, reports that the allegation refers to the time when Palin became mayor of Wasilla in the mid-1990s. Palin's husband Todd owned a snowmobile dealership with his business partner Brad Hanson. Apparently Hanson, who was also married, and Sarah got on famously; Alaskan Abroad's sources say the two were "flirtatious but never consummated the relationship".
"When Todd found out, he reportedly dissolved the partnership and sold the dealership. Hanson is now a member of the Palmer City Council."
The Enquirer's own anonymous source claims there was an affair. The paper reports: "Todd discovered the affair and quickly dissolved his friendship and business associations with the guy. Many people in Alaska are talking about the rumour and say Todd swept it under the rug."
Further allegations continue to emerge from the original Enquirer story, including the suggestion that Palin had attempted to force her pregnant teenage daughter Bristol to marry the father of her child before the story of the pregnancy broke. Bristol refused, leaving her mother with a messy situation to deal with in the run up to her speech to the Republican convention.
Even before the 'Palin affair' story broke on Wednesday night, John McCain's former rival for the Republican presidential candidacy Mike Huckabee was continuing the party's attack on the media's portrayal of Palin. "I'd like to thank the elite media for doing something that quite frankly I wasn't sure could be done: and that's unifying the Republican Party and all of America in support of McCain and Palin," he said. "The reporting of the past few days has proved tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert."
If a hand-wringing news piece entitled "Media on the defensive over Sarah Palin coverage" in today's LA Times - which doesn't even mention the Enquirer's allegations - is anything to go by, the media big fish will leave this potential scandal to the supermarket tabloids.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is showing the way for mainstream media nervous of Palin's lawyers. Reporters there are pursuing slightly less tawdry scandals in the ongoing evaluation of her suitability for the post of Vice President. The paper has printed emails sent by Palin which criticize the official inquiry into her ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten. The 'Troopergate' scandal concerns allegations that Palin got rid of her public safety commissioner Walt Monegan for failing to heed her demands to fire Wooten.
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