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After Endlessly Attacking Edwards Over $400 Haircut, FOX News Defends Sarah Palin’s Tanning Bed

Reported by Ellen - September 17, 2008 -

In the spring and summer of 2007 and beyond, FOX News could not sneer enough about John Edwards’ $400 haircut. But Sarah Palin coming under fire for purchasing a tanning bed that could cost up to $35,000? That’s an unfair smear, according to FOX. Even the on-screen banners joined in her defense by complaining about those meanies at Us Weekly “go(ing) after Sarah Palin, again.” Meanwhile, the most important question about Palin’s tanning bed purchase, whether or not she violated any ethics rules, went unasked and, of course, unanswered. With video.

Sean Hannity read the scripted introduction about the Us Weekly report on Palin’s tanning bed at the beginning of Part 2 of a two-part discussion with Mike Huckabee. “Well, (the Palin campaign) responded to the accusations and they actually point out that Governor Palin bought the bed with her own money,” Hannity announced gleefully.

Hannity dismissed the issue by asking, “How many gyms do they have for U.S. Senators and Congressmen? How many barbershops?” He complained, “We’re subsidizing their cafeterias in Washington and their hair salons but, whoa, she buys a tanning bed, that’s big news.” The subject then got dropped in favor of discussing the economy.

Apparently, on FOX News, spending tens of thousands of dollars on a tanning bed is nowhere near as wasteful or vain as spending $400 on a haircut. But putting that disparity of newsworthiness aside, there’s a real ethical question behind Palin’s purchase that was not an issue with Edwards’. As Narco News (the original source for the Us Weekly story) reported, Alaska law requires Palin to disclose any gift exceeding $150 in value if that gift is in any way related to her public duties. That includes a transfer of property at less than full value.

Palin’s bed was reportedly purchased from a health club, indicating that it was an expensive, commerical model. So the question is, did Palin pay its full value or did her position as governor get her a discount of more than $150? If the latter, she was required to disclose the gift. Narco News was unable to find out how much Palin paid nor the name of the health club the bed came from nor the model Palin bought. But according to the person to whom Palin should have disclosed any such gift, no disclosure by her was made.

To be fair, most of the media reports I read, including Us weekly, accepted the false “Palin paid for it, so there are no ethical questions” storyline, just as FOX News did. But that doesn’t make it right.