Outlook: Milbank declares February a Palin-free month

Jan 24, 2011

Post op-ed columnist Dana Milbank will be online Monday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss his Outlook article titled 'I'm declaring February a Palin-free month. Join me!'

We are awaiting Dana's arrival.  Please stand by.

I'm declaring February a Palin-free month. Join me!

We are still in search of Mr. Milbank and will are still holding open this hour for him to chat. 

Dana will be chatting at noon today;  thank you for staying with us.

Sorry for the postponement.  I was thinking I'd just start my Palin moratorium early and refuse to chat about her, but my editors prevailed on me to get out of bed and get online.   So let us talk about everybody's favorite former governor of Alaska, Tony Knowles.


Does this mean we are also Dana Milbank-free?

On the contrary, my brain is now free to pursue other, more wholesome thoughts.  For example, I am going up to Capitol Hill this afternoon to see Michele Bachmann.  She will be my methodone during my Palin moratorium.

So, if for the next month you regulalry talk about "not talking about Sarah Palin", will that actually qualify for talking about Sarah Palin?

I'm going to need a ruling from you, the readers, on this point.  I think I can not say "Sarah Palin" for the full 28 days.  The question is whether I can refer to "the person who succeeded Frank Murkowski as governor of Alaska" or whether that would violate the spirit of the moratorium.   This will become an issue almost immediately, because I am scheduled to appear on Rick Klein's show on ABC at noon on Feb. 1 and they are going to try to get me to talk about Sarah Palin. 


I hope that everyone will join you, Dana, but as you can see from your own figures, isn't it true that FOX (Fixed Noise) commentators mentioned her WAY more than any other news or commentary did? How will you stop THEM from doing it? She is their "media darling"! If you could stop THEM, everyone else would stop I believe.

My control over Fox is, shall we say, fairly limited.  I wrote a whole book about why Glenn Beck is a menace to civilization and that didn't budge them.   But it may get awkward over there at Fox if Palin announces here presidential candidacy.  They may even have to take her off the payroll. 


Not a question but a thank you. Many of us are tired of hearing about her when there are so many news issues a million times more important than this woman who likes to stir up things to stay in the news. Enough is Enough. Thank You!

Any time, Gov. Pawlenty.


Dana, will you forgive me for laughing at you for swearing off Sarah Palin on Sunday and then hosting a chat to discuss the aforementioned swearing off on Monday? And, will this mean you'll be talking about Sarah Palin 24-7 until 11:49 p.m. January 31?

Yes!  And wait until you read my 80,000-word column on my Palin moratorium, to be published 12:01 a.m. on March 1.

Who are you to declare anything against Sarah Palin?  Nobody even knows who you are or even care. You are not smart enough to talk about Sarah Palin.

The erudition of the Palin supporter never ceases to impress me.


I hope all journalists have read your column and vow to do the same! I just want to know what redeeming qualities that woman has that make people go weak in the knees.

Well, Sally Quinn has joined my moratorium.  So we have momentum.   Most have said it's a lovely idea but they'd prefer to keep their "clicks."

I'm sure I'm not the first person to mention this, but doesn't a "Palin-free month" just feed the same problem? "Click here to see how reporters are refusing to discuss Sara Palin." That aside, I like your idea and am taking the Plain-free pledge.

Are you accusing me of employing a gimmick?

When have I ever employed a gimmick?  Except for that video at Madame Tussauds...

You big iddy it. U no nuthin. Pale in smart. You dum. We win. Yay!

Write on.


Would you write about Sarah Palin if we found out that she's the secret author of the novel "O"?

Impossible, because I am the secret author of the novel "O."  Unless you didn't like it, in which case I am not the secret author.

And that means not saying "the former governor who shall not be named" either!

Tough crowd, this.

So what should be my stock answer when I am asked, on or after Feb. 1, a question about Palin?  Do I walk off the set?

We hope that Dana's belated arrival is not the result of his being set upon by crazed Palin groupies, beating him about the head and shoulders with elk antlers and caribou pelts. Sometimes a man attempting to carve a pathway to peace is greeted by hostile forces.


Now, now we are doing our best to remove violent rhetoric from the national discourse, including this chat. Palin and her supporters do not commit violence against anything but the English language.


What if Palin decides to announce her run for the presidency next month? Would you have to break your moratorium then?

I have been getting this question quite a bit.  Do you think I could write my Palin-enters-the-race column now, including expected quotes she would use, so that editors could run it if and when she announces?  We do this with obituaries all the time -- have it ready to go when the person does. 


Get all huffy and say "I told everyone that I wasn't going to talk about that!" And we'll all be reminded of the Connie Chung/Tanya Harding interview which was an hour of Connie asking Tanya about the Nancy Kerrigan knee-bashing incident, and Tanya responding with how she told everyone before the interview not to ask that question. At some point you'll have to cry.

I think this is the right idea.   I'll bring the Vicks vapo-rub on the set.



During the month of February, when asked about the former mayor of Wasilla, just smile knowingly and say "I don't know". Even follow it up with a wink if you like. If the interviewer presses you to confirm your reticence just say "you betcha". Or you can swear off TV appearances and actually, you know, write political columns about stuff happens here in DC. Just a thought.

Say it ain't so, Joe!


This is actually a serious question. Clearly you're not a fan of Palin, yet she provides so much writing material for you. Do you ever feel grateful for her for providing so much fodder, or do you resent her even more for having to write so often about someone you dislike and don't respect.

No, this is not Sarah Palin's problem. This is my problem and only I can solve it.  

In truth, there is a difference between disliking and not respecting.   Many of the pols I like the best are the ones that give me great material.   There are also many pols that I respect but I don't write about them because they're just too boring.

"I would much rather talk about MICHAEL Palin. I mean, the guy is a comedic genius!"

That's what I'm talking about.

Talking about your refusal to talk about Palin is not the same as talking about Palin. Clear?

But only after I exhaust my Michael Palin jokes.

A few weeks ago I decided to apply "live and let live" concept to Sarah. I stopped reading about her and started using my clicker whenever she appeared on my TV screen. Life sans Sarah is not only goooooood, it comes with a lagniappe in the form of extra free time. Now I can buy and read your latest book...

You've doubled my sales!

And what you are doing is significant why?

I assume you are referring to my plans, mentioned earlier, to see Michele Bachmann this afternoon.  She is hosting Antonin Scalia at a gathering of the Tea Party caucus, and then is giving the keynote at the March for Life dinner.   This is significant because she will be the next president of the United States.

Other than Obamania, can you think of any historical example that resembles the infatuation, loathing, and love Sarah Palin engenders? Is she sui generis?

Well, Dick Cheney got two out of the three.

Do you think Pailn will declare a Milbank-free month?

Yes.  She turns 47 next month, so I believe this will be her 564th Milbank free month.  Not that I'm hurt by the unrequited attention or anything.

You do know this woman has single-handedly destroyed my desire to ever visit Alaska. And Northern Exposure was my favorite show!

I disagree.  Went up there with the family last summer and toured the 3 big sites: Denali, the inside passage, and the Wasilla Wal-Mart.  Don't miss 'em.

I think you should quit your moratorium half way through!

I would only do this in the most extreme circumstances. Such as a very lucrative speaking engagement.

Talk about Bachmann, so we can make March a Bachmann-free month.

By March I'm going to talk about nothing but Kristi Noem.

You're not even going to wish her a happy birthday next month? And demand to see her birth certificate at the same time.

As Eric Cantor won't say, that's crazy talk.

I can't see doing each one. You really respect her? Do you have to say that? Is it OK for you not to? I think it is.

I like her because she entertains and amuses me.  I admire the way she has turned herself into a movement leader.   Respect is a tricky word.  Let's talk about Michael Palin.

Jason Capehart demurs and declines your offer.

Sorry, Dana Milbank -- I won't quit Sarah Palin

I know.  This is the answer of most of my colleagues and competitors.   Sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom before you seek out help. 

Are you able to mention the Honorable Gentlelady from Alaska during February? And, of course, by that, I do mean Jewel.

Jewel!  Another excellent answer and one I intend to use during those cold and lonely days of February.

Do what everyone else does. Say you can't comment "because of ongoing litigation."

That would be a stretch.  But I could say I can't comment because the matter is under investigation.

Wouldn't it have been wiser to simply have your moratorium (which I agree with) rather than writing a Sunday column about it? Now Palin and her fans can point to you as someone willfully ignoring someone who might possibly make news this month. Better to truly ignore her and pass your plan on to other journalists in private.

What?!?  And give up all these clicks?

I must build up my Palin-driven traffic now in order to make up for all the lost revenue I'll cause during the month of February.  

So please, join the moratorium.  And keep hitting "refresh" on this chat to help me store up page views for the next month. 

Thanks for chatting.


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Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank writes the Washington Sketch column about political theater in the capital. He joined The Post as a political reporter in 2000, after two years as a senior editor of The New Republic and eight years with the Wall Street Journal. He is also author of two political books, Homo Politicus (Doubleday, 2008) and Smashmouth (Basic Books, 2001). He lives in Washington with his wife and daughter. • Dana Milbank Bio & Archive
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