Sarah Palin speaking CPAC 2 SC

Sarah Palin’s appearance on the Conan O’Brien late night show generated huge positive buzz. Even (some of) the Palin haters were hard-pressed to come up with a negative about it.

This marks something of a turning point for Palin. More so than daytime media, late night shows seem to have the power to define a public persona.

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Usually, late night references to Palin are of the demeaning variety, most notably David Letterman’s near continuous anti-Palin jihad and the Saturday Night Live Tina Fay skits mocking Palin. When Palin appeared on SNL during the campaign, the appearance was damage control, at best.

Palin’s appearance on Conan’s show was very, very different on a variety of levels. Most obviously, Palin was presented in a sympathetic, humorous manner, and allowed to present a side of her personality most media viewers never see. Palin was part of the show, not the target of the show.

Perhaps even more important was the context. The segment started out with Palin being mocked, mildly, by William Shatner, in the manner of making sentences from Going Rogue seem so silly when presented in Shatner’s signature style. If that’s all there was to the segment, it would have been par for the course.

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Read More: By William A. Jacobson, Legal Insurrection

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