On Monday, my friend Polly informed me, via Facebook wall post, that Sarah Palin would be co-hosting the Today Show the following morning.

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling conflicted. I didn’t want to watch. I wanted to wish it into the cornfield. Palin is a polarizing figure, and she has polarized the very crap out of me.  But a voice inside my head tried to convince me otherwise. “Do it so you know what’s going on in the world,” it said. “Be a part of the zeitgeist, as it were.”  (My inner voice can be super pretentious.)

Rather than commit, I instead took to Twitter to see what people were saying on the matter. I followed a link to the Huffington Post, where an east coast blogger was already offering a full review.

I then closed my computer and made valiant efforts to go back to sleep. Let’s do this, eye mask.  I laid on my stomach.  Switched to my back.  Tried acupressure relaxation points on my palm. Not happening.  Surrender soon followed.  I sat up in bed and hit the power button on my remote.

Here, for your entertainment pleasure, is a brief catalog of my experience:

8:45 a.m.:  Jackpot.  Ann Curry, Sarah Palin, a Today Show contributing psychologist, and a woman who looks like that actress Kristen Bell are sitting around on high chairs.  The woman has written a book about the secret life of teenage girls (or something).  All parties are discussing how to help young girls develop better self-esteem. Sort of an out of body experience. Watching but not hearing. Then, mentally slapping myself, I am brought back into the present moment.  Sarah is struggling, in her usual fashion, to tackle a sentence back to its meaning. Her essential message is sound: reality TV should focus more on good role models. (She doesn’t say that, but this is what she means.)  Ann interrupts and tries to distill Sarah’s rambling down to its essence. Sarah then states that parents shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that they need to be friends with their children.  Children, she says, want boundaries. Everyone is in agreement, everyone wants girls to feel better about themselves. Ann has to interrupt the conversation to cut to commercial, but the ladies keep chatting.  Ann tries again, thanking everyone, and then feels the need to say, “You did a great job, Sarah Palin.” I want Ann to turn to the camera and say, “You’re doing great too, Rachel Pollon.”

8:50 a.m.: Commericals end. Wilson Phillips suddenly appears. There to sing, presumably. Why, I wonder. Only Ann is there with them.  Does Sarah Palin hate Wilson Phillips?  It occurs to me, fleetingly, that tons of ladies will want to know who makes the skinny Wilson’s dress so they can buy it immediately.

8:52 a.m.: Oh my god, why did Wilson Phillips decide to do “California Dreaming”?  First off, if you’re going to cover a song like that, make it super different.  Rock it out.  Don’t try to harmonize. You won’t win! Who can harmonize that song better than the original? No one. Queens of the Stone Age should cover it and that’s it. Secondly, does Chynna Phillips not believe her half-sister’s claims of incest by their father? Otherwise, even if you did love your father, and have a good, non-incestuous relationship with him, wouldn’t you find his music a little tainted? Move on. Cover someone else at the very least. A little distance is good. Across the board. In any situation.

8:56 a.m.: Sarah shows up after the performance. She seems to really love Wilson Phillips. Ann mentions, (then indicates with a brief dance move) that Sarah was dancing on the sidelines while they were singing. Matt Lauer now arrives onscreen and confesses to the ladies that for his entire life he thought the lyrics were, “I got down on my knees and began to pray…”, as opposed to “pretend to pray.” Matt’s mind is blown by Wilson Phillips. Maybe covering that song was a worthy endeavor. Barely audible, in the midst of the gaggle of complements, you can hear Sarah say, “Either way… they’re praying.”

8:57 a.m.:  I don’t understand why Ann Curry feels she has to encourage and validate Sarah during each segment. Wait, yes, I do. Vintage Ann. She’s a caretaker. You can see her trying to lasso this episode back home safely to the ranch, thanking each Wilson and the lone Phillips, telling them, and Sarah, that they did a great job. I’m holding on tight, but I can feel it, we’re going to stop for water soon. And then off to commercial we go.

8:58 a.m.:  There is a promo for Ryan Seacrest’s appearance the next day.

Sidebar:  There was some hubbub on Twitter via Deadline Hollywood regarding Ryan Seacrest (rumored to be taking over for Matt at some point in the future).  Seacrest was set to appear on The Today Show this same day to make a big announcement, but postponed his appearance due to “recent elbow surgery that needed to heal further.” He would instead be appearing on the show Wednesday. (What a difference a day makes.) My instincts tell me either he (and his people), or the brass at NBC, or both, realized that competing with the Palin appearance would not be in Seacrest’s best interests.  Maybe his elbow really did hurt though.

9:00 a.m.:  Anchors on the plaza. A brisk but sunny day. Ann is wearing a refined trench-like coat over her dress, and Sarah is now donning a magenta scarf.  It must be noted that she has a really good figure. I should run more. Sarah is readying herself to say goodbye. Al jokingly invites her to stay for some hamachi that they will be preparing in a cooking segment later in the hour. Matt asks her how she enjoyed her time with the “mainstream media.” You can hear the quotes around it as he says it. He’s zinging her respectfully. Her response: “I always say, if everything’s under control, you’re going too slow.” (A quote she then remembers to attribute to racecar legend Mario Andretti.) She finishes by saying it was “great” and they are all “awesome.” Before letting her go Matt prompts Sarah to tell them about her outfit. She makes a joke: “Yeah, I wasn’t going to go all Johnny Cash on ya today…” (She’s wearing black pants and a tight black jacket.)  It was, she says, a last-minute change.  The night before, while watching clips of her past Today Show appearances, she realized that she’d already worn the outfit she had planned on wearing:  a pink consignment store blazer. Ann announces what is coming in the next hour and they pass the show on to Savannah Guthrie at the news desk. I am at my kitchen table, thinking about smoking a doobie.

9:02 a.m.: I did it!  I conquered my fear and persevered!  I can do anything!  I wonder if Tony Robbins will start showing this clip at his empowerment retreats.

Addendum:  It was speculated that NBC booked Governor Palin in order to compete with Katie Couric, who is co-hosting ABC’s Good Morning America this week. It seems like something the evil popular girl at high school would think up.  And it may have worked.  People were indeed abuzz. I can’t help but wonder if the anchors on FOX & Friends would be as gracious if Howard Dean were brought in to share their couch. Would Steve Doocy allow Governor Dean to tell a funny story about his cufflinks?  One can only hope. If this should ever come to pass, and Polly gives me a heads up, I’ll be glad to watch the last fifteen minutes of that, too. Because I am strong and can bear witness to psychological tension without internalizing it.  And because Gretchen Carlson might be wearing a cute sweater that would look really good on me.

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RACHEL POLLON is a native Los Angeleno. Her writing has appeared online at The Nervous Breakdown, The Coachella Review, The Rumpus and The Weeklings, and in paperback form in The Beautiful Anthology and Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny. These pieces and more can be found on her website SeismicDrift.com. On Twitter she’s @RachPo and on Instagram @RachPoWills.

18 responses to “Watching the Last Fifteen Minutes of Sarah Palin Co-Hosting 
The Today Show

  1. Rachel! You’re so sweet! You watched this so we wouldn’t have to! Far more entertaining to see it through your perspective, I am sure.

    I dressed as Palin for Halloween once as a joke on my dad (who is the staunch republican to my staunch democrat). I was going to pass out campaign-style flyers that denounced Halloween as a socialist holiday encouraging handouts, but in the end I was too lazy to make them. Anyway, instead of being really perturbed that I was mocking one of his people, he thought it was the most fabulous thing ever. He had pictures taken of us shaking hands and put it on display in his office. To this day, I am still alarmed and frightened at how close I got to looking just like Palin.

    She does have a nice figure, though.

    • Rachel Pollon says:

      That’s hilarious, Cynthia. I want to see pictures. And yes, I’m here for you, trying to give back to society in any way I can. 😉

  2. Polly says:

    Love this, Rach! And not just because of the shout-out! 😉 Even if I was home Tuesday morning, I don’t think I could have handled watching this, but I do appreciate the summary. By the way, don’t you think a better idea for a guest host would be a journalism student? Yes, I know, not as much buzz as SP, but much more worthy of the opportunity. And regarding Cynthia’s post above… a year-and-a-half ago, my then 5 year-old niece dressed Bristol Palin for Halloween. This was during her turn on ‘Dancing With the “Stars,”‘ and my sweet niece just liked how the pretty girl danced. Do you think this family will ever lose their taste for the spotlight? I will follow Sarah’s footsteps and pray about it!

    • Rachel Pollon says:

      Thanks, Pols! Love that your niece dressed up as Bristol. I’m hoping someone’s going to comment that they went out on Halloween as Todd, then we can really get this party started. The only possible thing NBC could have been thinking about by asking her on was ratings. The world saddens me. I’m just glad Al Roker is around to lighten things up from time to time.

  3. Rachel- I just find it kind of perverse that Sarah P is talking about giving teenage girls boundaries. Maybe, if she had that insight, she wouldn’t be a grandmother…Not that I have anything against Bristol and Levi hooking up…but, ya’ know, “don’t do as I do, do as I say”….I also happen to think that this was part of Palin Inc. – like the Discovery Channel Alaska series which keeps her brand alive, Dancing with the Stars for Bristol, and all of the other Rogue stuff that lines her pockets. She is no better than the Kardashians…an enigmatic phlegm on America’s taste buds for junk celebrities.

  4. Rachel Pollon says:

    So, you’re saying Palin 2012?

    Dude, I know. Temporary ratings for NBC, keeping the game going for the Palins.

  5. I now hate Ann Curry…but feel horrible saying that. It’s because of how she acted with Biden. Did you ever see that? It was un-freaking-believable. She ripped into him so bad, shouted at him, shouted over him, and was basically insane. She is clearly a Republican. So I’m not buying her “nice” act. What she did was pure partisan crazy. Sarah Palin…love the line about needing to translate her (paraphrasing your line). Did I ever tell you, Rachel, that I live across the street from Tina Fey’s parents? My husband told her dad that Tina helped secure the election “for the good side” but we did not realize at the time they are Republican. Ah, well. She did help. Nice post…do they delay the Today show for the West Coast, or were you actually up at five a.m.?

    • Rachel Pollon says:

      I must have missed the Biden interview… or blocked it out. Ugh. Here’s the thing, my first draft of this was super, let’s call it “fleshed out” with lots of backstory on my feelings about the Today Show and Ann in particular. Mr. Listi rightly, and thankfully, encouraged me to compress but there in my dregs lay similar feelings about Ann. I tend to think she is actually a nice person. (The Jolie-Pitts love her so and give her all their exclusives!) But she’s not leading any fronts and I think at some point along the way the more liberal (AKA even, thoughtful) side of the media got bullied by the bullies and bought into the idea that they had to be nice to them, and that maybe the bullies would stop being so mean, if only someone would treat them fairly. Clearly lame, because of course the bullies just stomp on them. So, I assume Ann’s hardlining ways with Biden was a decision from on high (suits, producers, CEOs) in a direct attempt to show Grover Norquist and/or Karl Rove or Eric Cantor, Lindsay Graham, or the other one that looks like a turtle (I think that was a Jon Stewart joke but could have been Colbert) that they were fair and balanced. But time and time again the Democrats and moderates get burned and used. Did you watch the Clinton documentary on American Experience? It was riveting and brilliant but shocking at how he had to deal with the exact same thing as Obama. Relentless bullying by the Republicans to just get him the hell out of there. Am I still on topic? I have no idea. I did not know about your Fey neighbors. And, no I was watching the show during the west coast feed, and literally didn’t turn it on til 8:45. I missed the first hour and forty five minutes. But I was totally satiated by my digestif.

  6. Dave Rygalski says:

    So… doobie or not doobie? Nice work!

  7. pixy says:

    dear rachel pollon:

    two points:
    1. if you were in portland, ann curry totally would have told you that you were doing a good job too. because she senses when people from her home place need her encouragement.
    2. the skinny wilson looks EXACTLY like she did back in the day. i think she eats babies.

    next time, you can create the zeitgeist.


    • Rachel Pollon says:

      Damn it, Portland is so insular! And my pinkie and thumb are in the air — totally, next time the zeitgeist is mine.

  8. James D. Irwin says:

    I miss both Sarah Palin and US breakfast television.

    I really wanted her to run for President. It would have been fun…

    • Rachel Pollon says:

      I just remembered I hadn’t responded to this, but meant to. I took a moment to remember your scenario for the Bachmann-Turner ticket and wondered what Palin’s theme song might be if only your wish had come true. Perhaps something by Wolfmother.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        For some reason all I can picture now is Napoleon Dynamite talking about his summer in Alaska hunting wolverines… Except Palin wouldn’t use a 12 gaugge, but her own bare hands…

        • Rachel Pollon says:

          I think you may have stumbled upon her running mate. Hey, they have fantasy sport leagues, why not fantasy political teams?

  9. Kate Sedgwick says:

    You just made me so happy to not be in the USA for things like this, and simultaneously jealous that I’m not in the USA to watch this kind of thing! How could the rest of your day not be totally weird after that?

    • Rachel Pollon says:

      Happy AND jealous — they so perfectly balance each other out. I’m glad to have somehow left the world (well, at least, you) a little more zen after that SP had her way with us.

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