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Sarah Palin Divorce Rumor Conveniently (And Erroneously) Blamed On CNN by Palin Fans

2008-10-11-CNN-PalinTo paraphrase our current President, Sarah Palin’s supporters acted stupidly in defending Meg Stapleton’s decision to deny divorce rumors on Palin’s Facebook page. Conservatives4Palin is leading the charge to conflate the unsourced Alaska Report story with CNN, in an apparent attempt to push the “media martyr” meme. They start out calling Alaska Report’s Dennis Zaki a “CNN stringer,” but then, later in the story, he gets a promotion:

I call B.S. on both Politico and Tommy Christopher here. They say that the rumors would have been given no attention without the statement from Meg Stapleton…

…Hello!!!! Look above! Let’s leave aside the fact that MSM outlets were obviously grilling Meg Stapleton about the divorce rumors. Not only is Dennis Zaki a CNN journalist, but these idiots report blog rumors all the time!

This conflation is vital to their contention that Palin is “shooting down” this rumor, rather than elevating it. But Zaki’s status as a CNN stringer exists only in Zaki’s mind.

A CNN source tells Mediaite that, while CNN has purchased raw footage and stills from Zaki in the past, they’ve never had a stringer agreement with him, and he does not work for the network. The source also pointed out that Zaki has removed the CNN stringer credit from the bio on his homepage.

The terms “freelancer” and “stringer” are similar, but not interchangeable. A freelancer is anyone who provides content to an outlet without being on its staff. A stringer is a narrower concept in which the outlet has an ongoing agreement with a freelancer. Therefore, Zaki is not a “CNN stringer.” He’s a guy who sells video or stills to CNN if they can use them.

Even if he were a stringer, he’s a freelance photographer and videographer, not a freelance journalist. His story about the Palin rumor has nothing at all to do with CNN — or Meg Stapleton’s decision to use Facebook to address it publicly.

The larger issue here is, why would Palin supporters try so hard to make this connection? As I noted yesterday, the value of another overreaching media victim story is far outweighed by the damage inflicted by elevating this rumor to a national news story.

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