In Depth: Real Editing Stories with Sarah Palin…

I wasn’t planning on watching FNC’s Real American Stories with Sarah Palin. 7pm PT is usually spent elsewhere on the TV. But after reading Steve Krakauer’s semi-glib going in two directions review on Mediaite, I decided I needed to see this to make up my own mind.

I could theorize how this came about. Someone at FNC probably said, “We’ve got all this stuff in the can from two years ago which only aired on the internet. Let’s try to make some use of it on TV.” Someone else probably chimed in “Let’s get Sarah Palin to host it. It’ll draw viewers for sure.” Interesting idea. To bad the execution was so flawed. There are two ways to look at this special; technical execution and Sarah Palin’s role. I’m going to do both.

From start to finish this show felt like something that got cobbled together rather than a top down well planned and well coordinated special. There’s no cohesion between segments other than the umbrella “Real American Stories”. Though, to be pedantic, the actual title used was “Real American Stories with host Sarah Palin”. “Host”? They needed to stick the word host in there? It wasn’t self-explanatory?

Anyway, the various stories felt like they were originally stand alone stories. Which of course most, if not all, were. Some were really short. Some were much longer. Toby Keith and Jack Welch’s segments seemed out of place with some of the others. I could see why LL Cool J would feel “mis-represented” to use his happy phrase.

In terms of the overproduced “in studio” segments, complete with someone leaning too hard on the “Applause” sign a couple of times well past when Palin started talking and camera shots of audience members with artificial smiles, to say they were a mixed bag would be something of an understatement.

The first in studio segment with the children was heavily edited. I caught at least three cuts for sure, a lot for a segment that ran only a couple of minutes. I’m not going to speculate on the reasons for the cuts though because they could be many. But it made for a rough segment.

The second in studio segment with the dog was criminal. It out of all the segments was the most compelling from a story standpoint. But Palin’s interviewing was vacuous and whoever produced the show dropped the ball big time. You know a segment is in trouble when one of the interviewees has to interrupt to relate the most pertinent information, namely the name of the organization that furnished the dog. It’s called Canine Companions for Independence.

For a show about people overcoming obstacles you’d think the show would want to do whatever it could to facilitate people overcoming obstacles in the future. Not in this case. I’m sure there were viewers out there who would like to help others who might need a dog like that. Standard operating procedure would be for the host to give the name of the organization and its website URL at the end of the segment, or at the very least the show would put up a lower third with that information. But that didn’t happen. If viewers weren’t paying attention they would have missed the name of Canine Companions for Independence. And they never received an URL to go to. I’ll provide one right now. It’s www.cci.org.

The third in studio segment was even more vacuous than the second for Palin. At this point I felt like I was sort of watching Dana Carvey do the Church Lady. I kept waiting for Palin to bust out a “Well isn’t that special!”. And there was a really jarring edit at the end, the worst of the whole hour. Palin was in one position one second and then in another position the next. There are ways to mask these. They’re called insert or reaction shots. Basic editing 101.

And this gets to the heart of the matter for why this special was a failure. It wasn’t tailored to Palin’s strengths. It was tailored to her weaknesses. What makes Palin the “big star”, the reason for FNC to land her in the first place, is her ability to riff on a variety of subjects but tailor them in ways that resonate with some people. But in a rigidly controlled special like this, Palin came off as stiff. Palin really couldn’t be Palin, though she did awkwardly try a couple of times. You could have plugged in a dozen FNC talents in her place and the result would have been pretty close to what you got. Maybe a bit better.

If FNC really wants to do a Palin hosted special it needs to do it right. It needs to start from scratch and tailor a show that utilizes her strengths. I can think of several scenarios right now that would really work well. But putting Palin in a paint by numbers format like what we saw tonight, where she doesn’t have the freedom to do what she does best, isn’t one of them. This was a wasted opportunity.

20 Responses to “In Depth: Real Editing Stories with Sarah Palin…”

  1. joeremi Says:

    It was generic; anyone from FNC could have “hosted” it. It seemed like a half-hearted attempt to have a “Sarah Palin Show”, almost like they got her, then couldn’t decide what to do with her. I can’t imagine that’s really a problem they’re dealing with, but it looked that way.

  2. I wonder if we’re more critical than the average viewer. She did ok… not great. I’d say the programme was better than watching a rerun of some other FNC show, but that’s about it and they guaranteed that the ratings for the next new “with host Sarah Palin” show will be
    lower.

  3. True. The average viewer that gobbles up all things Palin may not care. But some will no doubt wonder why Palin was there.

  4. joeremi Says:

    It’s biggest crime was that it didn’t look “important”. It came off as filler so Greta could have a night off, like AC360 does on Fridays sometimes.

  5. missy5537 Says:

    I think you’ve all characterized it correctly. I didn’t watch it for the very reasons you’ve all stated – it does sound like someone decided to let her host this program to make use of old footage, plus to give Greta the night off!

    As I’ve stated before, I come to Palin’s defense when she’s unfairly maligned. But she is starting to get overexposed, and her voice is starting to “get” to me. She’s very whiny, whether she means to be or not.

  6. I think it’s the curse of being female (among several..). Many of us have a certain edge to our voices, and the longer you hear it, the more you notice it. It’s why men so universally love The View…:(

  7. What strengths? I’m not kidding. She isn’t interesting as a political analyst. She doesn’t interview well. Not everyone is cut out to be on TV. Maybe with a lot more practice it would work better, I don’t know. She’s famous for giving fiery partisan speeches in front of friendly audiences. Maybe Roger Ailes can’t make a TV personality out of that.

  8. AlinDC: Good point. The only strength she has for me is as the most bizarre political rise I’ve ever seen…and topping Obama’s wasn’t easy.

  9. biznews247 Says:

    I was waiting to see how long it would take before people would find fault with the show …. just because it was “hosted” by Sarah Palin. Get real people – the stories were moving and I for one felt that THIS could be Palin’s calling. I thought she did a very good job hosting the show. I agree that anyone could have hosted it, but she did a credible job and I enjoyed the show. Did it belong on the air at 10 PM on a Thursday night – NO – it’s a Sunday 9 PM style show and if it is to have long term appeal it could work at that time rather than showing weekend repeats of Beck or Hannity.

  10. I didn’t think any of it was a big deal. I am guessing the LL Cool J twitter got some people to tune in due to curiosity?

    Human Interest Stories – brand them anyway you want but that’s what they are. Does it matter who the host is? Does a high visablity personality get people to tune in to watch? I don’t know what were her numbers like for the program?

    Sarah Palin’s special series on Alaska are a documentary so perhaps this is what she told the folks at Fox News she wants to do – Human Interest/Documentaries

  11. This show is perfect vehicle for Palin at the moment. Her schedule is very limiting and the time allowed by her to do the show would be a few days at most. This could lead to the choppy editing that Spud noted as time to do retakes would be limited.
    The subject matter (uplifting feel good bios of people overcoming personal handicaps) is also perfect. Any criticism of Palin’s performance could be argued as a criticism of the stories subject. This is often used against those opposed to policies like the Iraq war when they are accused of being against our soldiers.
    All and all a smart move by FNC & Palin.

  12. cristanti Says:

    not surprised at all that you would say this, what do we expect from the left, and you do lean left so please do not try to deny that, I guess I knew the left would go nuts on this, just because it was Sarah Palin, I could not agree more biznews, it did not take long, I actually liked it I dvr’d for my daughter because it had me cry a couple of times, that dog story was awesome, I had never seen these stories and I thought she was so at ease, so comfortable at doing this, very down to earth and seemed a very caring person, compare that to obama, she did not appear arrogant, elietist, like a snob which is how I would describe obama, so you on the left you just hate her so much that no matter what she does it just eats at you, and as far as this cool guy , please lets be honest here everyone, he did not want to do it because it was Sarah Palin, I am sure someone in his camp said NO WAY, who would not want to have his story told and in a good way by her, so do not believe a word he said about why he did not want it on the show. In fact I think less of him now for that reason. You left elitist, get over it, she’s good and your jealousy is making you crazy.

  13. joeremi Says:

    Paragraphs and short sentences would be good. Makes it easier for us elitist snobs to decipher your rambling manifesto.

  14. I like capital letters, too. Makes me feel superior.

  15. […] in her defense, the format was awfully lame: From start to finish this show felt like something that got cobbled together rather than a top […]

  16. I wonder if Palin could do anything right in the eyes of you liberals out there. If msnbc had done this show with Keith Olbermann, rachael Maddow,Cris Mathews, or Mr Ed, all of you would saying it was the best show ever made for TV.
    Trashing somebody over and over with every breath i think will cause people to began looking at the people doing the trashing with suspicion. All you liberals must have a great fear of her, maybe she won’t run for potus so all of you can continue to worship your beloved Obama.

  17. testing

  18. bonnieux Says:

    As I am not a Fox viewer, I hear that Sarah Palin bombed.

    Well, it’s about time.

  19. bonnieux Says:

    The Dems certainly are not afraid of her at all.
    Palin is a very dangerous person who spreads hate and fear.

  20. […] InsideCableNews: I can think of several scenarios right now that would really work well. But putting Palin in a paint by numbers format like what we saw tonight, where she doesn’t have the freedom to do what she does best, isn’t one of them. This was a wasted opportunity. […]

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