Greens are seeing red over Discovery Communications’ curious decision to feature Sarah Palin on a television program showcasing Alaska’s natural beauty on The Learning Channel, ironically known as TLC.
Email, Facebook boycott of Sarah Palin’s Alaska
Unless all your friends are dittoheads, chances are you have received at least one invitation to sign an online petition asking TLC’s parent company, which also owns the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, to cancel Palin’s upcoming Alaska travelogue show before it even airs or join one of the campaign’s Facebook or MySpace page groups, which are popping up faster than mistresses in a celebrity affair scandal.
Sarah Palin is stripes to the Discovery network’s plaid: the two just clash. Discovery Communications is a media company conglomerate that prides itself on celebrating nature and the environment; Sarah Palin is a media darling whose favorite mantra is “Drill, Baby, Drill!” and who support the aerial killing of wolves and other behaviors that are abhorrent to many animal and nature lovers.
Sarah Palin’s controversial environmental record
The uproar over Palin’s new show on Discovery’s TLC stems from the former Alaska governor’s controversial environmental record when she was in charge of America’s most scenic natural wonderland, Alaska–a state that includes a 19 million acre wildlife refuge. Seen more as a Cruella Deville than a Mary Poppins of the animal set, Sarah Palin was an odd choice by Discovery to serve a tour guide for the state’s wildlife and natural beauty.
University of Alaska professor and marine wildlife specialist Rick Steiner lambasted Palin’s environmental record in a guest editorial on the Seattle PI website, citing such examples as her lawsuit against the Bush administration for listing polar bears as a threatened species (an “extreme position” Steiner wrote that “put her to the political right of the Bush /Cheney administration”); expanding Alaska’s aerial wolf and bear shooting programs in which the animals are hunted down from airplanes; and allowing Alaska state biologists to “drag 14 newborn wolf pups from their den and shoot each of the pups in the head at close range,” among other questionable activities.
Discovery sells out “Greens” for green
Discovery may regret selling out for money, especially since Sarah Palin’s Alaska may not be the money maker the network had originally hoped. According to a Huffington Post story, ad buyers are not “buying” the concept of the show. An inside source described their reaction to viewing a promotional video for the show at a Discovery sales event to Huffington Post writer Cenk Uygur: “When the promo was over, people (employees and buyers) were rolling their eyes, snickering, and even laughing. People were laughing and it’s not even a comedy. No one took it seriously.”
Even Discovery’s own website discussion forums generated comments from unhappy former fans. “This woman as host of a nature-related program is a joke,” complained a woman who identified herself as zooladytoo. “Will you show her clubbing seals? Shooting at wolves from a helicopter?”
Ironically, Sarah Palin’s Alaska is being produced by Mark Burnett, the creator of such iconic reality TV shows as Survivor and The Apprentice. Whether Sarah Palin will be voted off the airwaves or fired by the very television viewers who have helped Discovery Communications grow into “the world’s number one nonfiction media company” (according to the company’s own self-aggrandizing press release) will soon be known, although it seems unlikely the network will admit to having egg on its face from its own programming blunder. Some media strategists predict instead that Discovery will cuts its losses by placing the show in a weak time slot and allowing it to quietly become extinct after the eight contracted episodes.
What’s up with Discovery?
With television networks striving to attract advertisers that want to capitalize on the passion and disposable income of the green community (see article on NBC Behavior Placement strategy) it is puzzling that the Discovery Network would go out of its way to irk this high-income and well-educated demographic by airing a wildlife series hosted by that group’s nemesis.