How Sarah Palin Helped Make the 'American Sniper' a Star

News & Politics

With the Oscars just a week away, “American Sniper” is considered a leading contender for numerous awards, despite the film's numerous inaccuracies. Concurrently, the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, a veteran with PTSD who is alleged to have killed Kyle at a firing range, is occurring in the backdrop of a nation that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to Kyle's story.

A logical question to ask is how Chris Kyle's narrative became so prominent in the first place. There are roughly 2.5 million veterans of the Iraq war, yet Kyle's name seems to stand above them all. Certainly his record number of fatalities as a sniper played some role in his fame, but the feats of many other soldiers failed to accrue the same amount of recognition.

Part of the answer is the role of one of the country's most prominent masters of the media, none other than former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Palin And Kyle's Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Since losing the presidential race and quitting her job as a sitting governor, Sarah Palin hasn't run for office or even served as an appointed bureaucrat of just about anything. What she has done, however, is continued to build her media profile, whether it's by speaking at high-profile right-wing events or starring in a reality TV show.

Therefore despite her lack of any official responsibility in politics, Palin has maintained a media presence that also elevates anyone she chooses to endorse. And the former Alaska governor gave Chris Kyle one of the strongest endorsements a politician can give anyone, when she entrusted him with her life by hiring him as a bodyguard in 2011 to provide security for a movie premiere she attended in Iowa.

Here's a picture she posted on her Facebook page at the time of her and Kyle (here he is wearing a suit and sunglasses):


The two were reunited when Palin's husband Todd starred in the NBC reality TV show Stars Earns Stripes. Kyle returned the favor for some of the fame Palin was giving him by bestowing high praise on Todd, saying, “He's straight-up Rambo. Next time I'm in a war, I want Todd on my side. He was the first one on the boat, the first one under the wire, and about the time the rest of the guys were getting through, he already had the crate. You don’t need anyone else. “Forget Chuck Norris, send in Todd Palin.” Bristol Palin, the daughter of the former governor, was so excited about Kyle's endorsement that she wrote about it on her Patheos blog.

So it was no surprise that after Kyle's death, Palin was front in center in eulogizing him. She posted the following statement to her Facebook page (it received over 140,000 Likes), lamenting that more wasn't being done to commemorate Kyle:

Todd and I are in Dallas today to attend Chris Kyle’s memorial and funeral service. I find it sad to see that flags aren’t flying at half staff for this American hero. We’re surrounded today by American patriots here in Texas – by Chris’ fellow veterans and active duty warriors. In honor of them, I hope our commander in chief pays his respects in some gesture of condolence for their comrade in arms who sacrificed so much to keep him and all of us safe.
We may never know to what extent Chris kept us free or how many lives he saved by his brave actions in the line of fire. But his fellow warriors know how important he was. My son Track couldn’t meet Chris when Todd and I first met him because Track was deployed to Iraq. Then when we got to know Chris even better, our son was deployed in Afghanistan. We’ve met a lot of people in recent years, and Track has been privileged to meet them as well. But he said about Chris, “Mom, he’s the ONE person in the entire world I would be star-struck to meet. He’s it.”
God bless this great warrior. Let us keep his wife and children in our prayers, and may we never forget him or his sacrifice.

Soon after director Michael Moore criticized the film “American Sniper,” Palin returned to the scene, posing with war veteran Dakota Meyer with an obscene sign blasting Moore:


A Ticket To Relevance?

A few days after that viral photo, Palin appeared at Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) Iowa Freedom Summit, billed as a clearinghouse for 2016 candidates. Her teleprompter allegedly malfunctioned, which led to her infamously rambling and incoherent speech, which hot on a variety of conservative red meat topics. One of them was unsurprisingly “American Sniper” – here's what she said:

It was here that we were introduced to Chris. And you know why this movie is breaking records all across this great nation, it’s because America needs a hero again. And Chris Kyle has been that man, and screw the left in Hollywood who can’t understand what it is we see in someone like Chris Kyle and all of our vets.

Her remarks should be viewed in light of the fact that Palin hasn't ruled out a bid for the presidency – even telling political reporters in Iowa that she's “seriously interested.” Perhaps Kyle and the Iowa connection is what she views as a ticket out of the irrelevancy that will eventually meet her if she fails to do anything but post acerbic Facebook statuses and appear on reality TV shows. She can credit herself with elevating Kyle's fame and fortune, and it may be that she believes that the effect can be mutual, if she can just find a way to remind the audiences giving “American Sniper” record box office totals that she was a fan of Chris Kyle long before anyone knew who he was.

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