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It's the Right-Wingers Who Are Unloading the Harshest Critiques About Palin’s Bizarre Departure

The split among conservatives over who's to blame for Palin’s early exit from the national stage is breaking out into the airwaves.

 Like frustrated welterweight Roberto Duran, who stunned the sporting world by walking away, mid-bout, from his 1980 prize fight against Sugar Ray Leonard with the memorable, muttered Spanish phrase for "no more," Sarah Palin's decision last week to walk away, mid-term, from her governorship stunned Beltway spectators and left bewildered Alaskans  scratching their heads in amazement.

Palin's "no más" moment initiated lots of intriguing storylines, but, for me, the most fascinating one has been the visible split within the conservative movement over who's to blame for her early exit from the national stage. And specifically, how much culpability do the hated mainstream media deserve for the way Palin has been covered? For the way she's been smeared and attacked?

Seems to me 99 out of 100 times, conservatives would find common cause on an unfolding story like this and agree that the media, to a huge degree, are guilty of some kind of unimaginable double standard, that the press had stacked the deck against the Republican and treated that pol unfairly. That's been the go-to playbook for more than four decades now.

Palin herself led the utterly predictable anti-press charge over the weekend,  claiming on her Facebook page that "[t]he response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the 'politics of personal destruction.' " Meanwhile, Palin's attorney, employing a unique reading of the First Amendment, lobbed red meat to the far-right base after he fired off a peculiar four-page letter  warning reporters and pundits that they'd face legal action if they reported inaccurate facts about Palin, a prominent public figure.

Frothing right-wing bloggers cheered the legal threats and robotically stoked the anti-media fires. "The Palin-haters at MSNBC better watch it,"  warned Gateway Pundit. Conservative blog readers also lashed out at liberals and journalists for targeting Palin. At Power Line, a reader  wrote: "[S]he seems to be saying that she can't serve Alaska effectively as governor any longer because she has become such a lighting rod for attacks from the Left." Another beseeched her to leave politics because "[t]he media has already rehearsed the destruction of your campaign. ... A run for President will not only be a torment for you and your family, it will be a torment for all of us watching."

At National Review Online's The Corner, Jonah Goldberg  insisted that The New York Times, among others, has "gone after Palin and her family in ways that I think are particularly egregious." (Goldberg didn't bother to cite any evidence of egregious  Times behavior to support his media critique.)

Meanwhile, unveiling an unlikely coalition,  The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol  announced that the liberal media were in cahoots with the "GOP establishment" to bring Palin down. (I kid you not.)

And just days before Palin announced her exit,  The National Review's Jim Geraghty and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt  huddled to discuss why liberals hate Palin so much; what is it about her that drives them to distraction? (It's because Palin's so pretty, Geraghty posited.)

So the familiar outlines were all in place and the  pity party hummed in high gear: the unhinged liberal media had it in for Palin and wanted to drive her off the national stage. Liberals were smearing her.

But then a funny thing happened -- scores of conservative commentators broke ranks with the "liberal media" brigade and decided Palin's political problems were of her own making.

In other words, the beloved liberal media meme completely fractured under the weight of the Palin story. The front-line, knee-jerk troops were ready and eager to lob the ever-ready accusations, but it turned out that lots of Noise Machine generals weren't buying it, and instead of blaming the liberal media for Palin's disastrous weekend showing, they blamed ... Palin.

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