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Sarah Palin 'boycott': Columnist urges media to avoid Palin for month of February

A leading American columnist has urged the media to follow his example and avoid mention of Sarah Palin for the month of February.

Though written in partly in jest, the moratorium proposed by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post was a sign that the former Alaska governor’s star could be on the wane.

Recent polls have shown her slipping down the preference list of Republicans for the party’s 2012 nominee to challenge President Barack Obama.

Her prospects may have been further damaged by a row over the shootings in Tucson, after it was revealed that her website had once put crosshairs on a map over the Congressional seat of Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman injured in the massacre.

In a highly defensive television interview, she said she would “not shut up or sit down”.

Mr Milbank admitted that he had mentioned Palin 42 times in his Washington Post column since she burst on to the national scene as Senator John McCain’s vice-presidential pick in September 2008.

“Thought it is embarrassing to admit this in public, I can no longer hide the truth. I have a Sarah Palin problem,” he wrote.

Stressing that Mrs Palin was no longer an elected official nor a candidate for office, he chided the media - himself included - for using Mrs Palin as a cheap source of ratings, sales and internet hits. “We need help,” wrote Milbank.

Since resigning as governor of Alaska in July 2009, Palin has carved a unique niche as conservative kingmaker, Fox News commentator, author and star of a family reality show, while feeding speculation that she would bid for the White House.

Given her knack for controversy, her media profile has remained high.

As of lunchtime on Monday, no other writers or bloggers had taken up his suggestion.

“Most have said it’s a lovely idea but they’d prefer to keep their ‘clicks’,” he wrote on a web chat.

Explaining the terms of his vow, he added: “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.”

On Jan 17 Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist on the New York Times, said it was time for the media and Palin “to go their separate ways”.

He wrote: “So let me play the relationship counsellor. To the media: Cover Sarah Palin if you want, but stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America. Stop pretending that she has a plausible path to the presidency in 2012. (She doesn’t.) Stop suggesting that she’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination. (She isn’t.)

“To Palin: You were an actual politician once (remember that?), but you’re becoming the kind of caricature that your enemies have always tried to make of you.

“So maybe it’s time to turn off your iPad for a while, and take a break from Facebook and Fox News.”