Fraud at Polls: Palin, Nicky, eMeg Meet DWTS & JFK


Press Clips: This week’s coveted Dorothy Kilgallen Investigative Gossip Award goes to Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey for uncovering the scandal of  Sarah Palin’s vote scam on behalf of daughter Bristol’s candidacy on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Along with much of the blogosphere, the Calbuzz Department of Popular Culture Trends and Mortifying Guilty Pleasures erupted with outrage on Tuesday, when Palin the Younger made it into this season’s DWTS finals, while pop singer Brandy got the boot.

Bristol’s lumbering terpsichorean exertions recall nothing so much as one of those tutu-clad dancing baby hippos from “Fantasia” – and we mean that in the nicest possible way.

Nevertheless, she has been kept on the show week after week, while far more talented and appealing, third-rank “celebrity” dancers have been cut. Despite consistently getting the lowest scores from the show’s panel of professional judges, she’s survived because of a weekly barrage of phoned and texted votes from among DWTS’s audience of 20 million viewers.

From the start, all right thinking people agreed there was something fishy about the whole thing, amid widespread suggestions that Sarah Palin was somehow gaming the system on behalf of her offspring, through the use of her Tea Party network of acolytes and sycophants. But it was all just speculation – until Jezebel finally nailed down the truth, which seems to be the biggest case of ballot fraud since Mayor Daley delivered the cemetery vote for JFK.

While Bristol Palin denies any Tea Party conspiracy theories, there’s no denying that conservatives have been pushing for votes for Bristol, using blogs and Twitter to start a movement. But what isn’t widely known is the evidence—via message board comments on some conservative sites—that this mobilization involves fixing this (albeit meaningless) election through a technical snafu on ABC’s website, which allows Palin’s supporters to cast an infinite number of email votes.

Scouring Tea Party and Sarah fan sites, the resourceful Morrissey quickly discovered mountains of proof about the plot, which was organized and dubbed “Operation Bristol” by Palin political hacks, sprinkled among the comments left by the witless TPers themselves:

“Here’s a hint: They don’t have to be VALID email addresses to register them with ABC.com, there is apparently no validation process. The just have to be formatted like a valid email address, and you must use a valid zip code and a birthdate that makes you old enough to vote. I’m voting like a democrat, all night long…”

“No, it doesn’t have to be a valid email address – I had one of my anonymous ones XXX@yahoo.com that I used, and then just did the sign-up process all over again with XXX1@yahoo.com and it worked.”

“Got my 80 votes in online…took 2 hours. I am beat”

“I only got 42 in, I have some catching up to do!”

“Lord have mercy, I voted for 3 hours online! I got 300 in.”

Well and good, but what, we hear some regular readers asking, is the political significance of this kerfuffle to me, a member in good standing of the Calbuzz Cognoscenti? Just this: In a week when Sarah Palin declared that she can beat President Obama in 2012,  the incident speaks volumes about the character and qualifications of the erstwhile half-governor of Alaska, in at least three ways:

1-Palin freely countenances lying, cheating and fraud to get what she wants, despite her constant caterwauling about the corruption of Democrats and ridiculous self-portrayal as a reformer.

2-The Palinistas’ blind determination to make Bristol a winner, despite her obvious lack of ability, reflects the world view of Sarah and her followers, which embraces know-nothing anti-intellectualism and rejects meritocracy in favor of personal prejudice.

3-The “Operation Bristol” campaign displays a malevolent, us-against-them manicheism, as when pro-Palin commenters, not content to boost their gal, also feel compelled to smear and trash Jennifer Grey, the graceful and talented front-runner on the show, as a “Hollywood elite,” even as Bristol herself portrays anyone who opposes her as a “hater” and offers less than  half-hearted apologies for the homophobic ravings of her charming sister, Willow.

Shame on you, John McCain, for unleashing this  whack job on America.

For the record: Calbuzz wishes to make perfectly clear that we disassociate ourselves completely from the actions of Steven Cowan, the 67-year old Wisconsin man who blasted his TV with a shotgun after watching Tuesday’s DWTS. We would never shoot our TV, at the risk of missing an episode of “Detroit 187,” but instead would aim at the nearest table lamp or kitchen appliance.

You just can’t find good help: Nice work by Chronicler Carla Marinucci for her comprehensive, multi-platform, follow-up coverage of eMeg Whitman’s former housekeeper getting the last word in their politically charged dispute over back wages, and mega-kudos to the Sacbee’s Susan Ferris for digging into the tantalizing, still-unanswered question of how eMeg maid Nicky Diaz found her way to media-savvy Gloria Allred.

As Ferris reports, leaders of the California Nurses Association refused to deny that they played the key role in the behind-the-scenes Nicky machinations that helped torpedo Whitman’s campaign, and that now have led to working class heroine status for Diaz herself. Regardless, there is no question that the CNA emerged as one of the biggest winners of the 2012 campaign, as Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal ably reports.

And while we’re on the subject, Joe Mathews is just wrong, wrong, wrong with his Fox and Hounds argument that the Nicky revelations would have sunk eMeg whenever they came.

As a political matter, by surfacing the story herself the summer before, Meg not only would have pre-empted the matter by timing it early enough so it would be old news by the time the campaign started for real, but also could have finessed a big negative into a positive, but saying something like: “My own personal experience really brought home to me the complicated human and emotional issues involved in this problem, which is an important reason why as governor I will do my best to help find effective solutions to illegal immigration, which affects so many Californians in so many ways.”

Instead eMeg decided to try to cover up the whole mess and, when it inevitably came to light, tried the modified, limited-hangout route before deciding that Nicky should just be deported. The rest is history.

BTW: Just about every other news outlet that covered the Allred-Diaz appearance before the labor board in San Jose (where Mr. Whitman, aka Dr. Griff Harsh, agreed to pony up $5,500 in back pay to Nicky) had posts up online about the happenings before the, ahem, San Jose Mercury Snooze. Just sayin’.

Just because: South Koreans love them some Santa-clad penguins.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Calbuzz to use “sentiment analysis” to gauge value of using more “dancing baby hippos” references in future posts.

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There are 9 comments for this post

  1. avatar mjayess says:

    Comparing Bristol Palin to a dancing baby hippo is an insult to dancing baby hippos.

  2. avatar pmcohen says:

    Love the “Fantasia” reference, but I do have an editing question: “…embraces no-nothing anti-intellectualism…” I assume you mean “know-nothing” which would be an appropriate reference. (see Wikipedia: “a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s.”)

    Keep up the great work; You guys continue to be number 1 on my list of required reading.

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    So sad that we care about dancing with third-rate “stars” like Ms. Palin. Most Americans can’t name half the Supreme Court (or probably any), don’t know the houses of Congress, and think our president is a Muslim (and think that matters). And we’re spending any brain cells at all on a typically confused teenager?

    More horrifying to me than the Republican takeover of the House is the sad state of our culture when these brainless TV shows have become the bread and circuses of our time.

    Sorry. I know it’s a joke to you guys. But I’m afraid it really matters to WAAAAY too many people. Whereas really knowing or understanding what’s going on in our country doesn’t. I think it was Hulk Hogan who once said that the only thing wrong with WWE fans was that they vote and breed. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • avatar Andy says:

      While I completely agree with Calbuzz that the fixing of DWTS is pretty disgusting, and I’m not happy with the direction things are moving in Congress, I’m pretty appalled that someone would judge others based on their entertainment choices. Have some perspective.

      While I may know more about my favorite sports team than I do the supreme Court, you rely on me no less when election time comes.

    • avatar tonyseton says:

      So there’s no difference between Palin or Maddow, American Idol or Paccino as Shylock, reading Drudge or CalBuzz? There is not only a difference, but it is an important. The brain, like a muscle, atrophies when it’s not used; when it is not intellectucally stimulated. (Politics isn’t sports; it’s our lives.) The American public has become dangerously incompetent in their thinking. The Republicans have been playing to their primitive emotionalism while the Democrats have been whining in the corner.

  4. avatar SezMe says:

    “terpsichorean” – you must have done a victory lap around the office after shoehorning that one into the conversation. 🙂

    But seriously, what Palin did was not “gaming the system” but rather was using social media exactly as designed – to find and mobilize like-minded people. That her notoriety gives her substantial leverage in that effort is to be expected. You can be darn sure that every other contestant was doing the same thing. The fact that those efforts were below the radar is beside the point.

    That DWTS had a crappy web site that allowed stuffing of the ballot box cannot be laid at Palin’s feet either. And the fact that the Tea Party found this hole and exploited it also cannot be laid at her feet. I’ll take Palin’s assertion that she does not control the teabaggers at face value.

    In summary, I call “cheap shot” on this one. Maybe it’s a slow news day in Punditland.

  5. avatar Hap Hazard says:

    When I first clicked over here I thought you guys were doing a genuine investigative journalism piece on ACTUAL voter fraud committed by democrats in many areas of the country, but wasn’t surprised to instead see you voicing concern about the plot to keep Bristol Palin on Dancing with Stars. This is a journalism parody site.

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