Woman of the people's bus tour hoax






Palin's Bus Hoax
by Joe McGinniss
November 29, 2009 | 11:50pm
Sara D. Davis / Getty Images

On her book tour, Sarah Barracuda pretends to be one of the people. But
she's really winging across the country on a private jet.

As much of her entourage, including HarperCollins publicist Tina
Andreadis, risked a collective case of White Line Fever, covering more
than 3,000 road miles during the book tour¹s first week, Sarah Palin
herself seems to have remained above it all, apparently cosseted in the
luxury of a Gulfstream II 12-passenger jet rented from Universal Jet
Aviation of Boca Raton, Florida, at a cost of more than $4,000 per hour.
More than two weeks ago, quoting Andreadis, USA Today reported that
Palin would be ³making two and sometimes three stops a day, traveling in
a bus painted with the cover of her book.² And just before the tour
started, Palin herself said on her Facebook page: ³I¹ll post our
progress from the road.² To further the illusion, the populist heroine
gave televised interviews from the bus, including one to Greta Van
Susteren en route to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

To further the illusion, the populist heroine gave televised interviews
from the bus, including one to Greta Van Susteren en route to Fort Bragg.
Last week I was in The Villages, the fantastical Back to the
Future-style retirement enclave north of Orlando, when Palin popped out
the front door of the bus to greet the thousand or so worshipers
gathered outside Barnes & Noble. I thought she sure looked good for
someone who had been riding a bus for a week, changing diapers?as she
said?all the way. Publicist Andreadis, by contrast, had the worn and
harried look of someone who had been earning an honest living by riding
a bus for a week.

It seems now that Palin hasn¹t been on the bus, except for short hops
between local airports and hotels and book-signing sites. Instead, as
first reported by the Alaskan blog Palingates, she¹s apparently been
aboard UJT750, the Gulfstream American twin-jet that she first boarded
at Westchester County airport shortly after noon on November 18, bound
for Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the first stop on her tour.

The full activity log for UJT750 can be found here. The bottom line is
that the plane¹s goings and comings track Palin¹s tour perfectly: from
Grand Rapids to Washington, Pa. and then to Rochester, N.Y., Roanoke,
Va., Fayetteville, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Jacksonville and Orlando.
On November 25, the plane carried Palin, her parents, her two youngest
children and her Aunt Katie to Pasco, Washington, for Thanksgiving. And
there it sat, at Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco, for four full days, which
is a lot of inactivity for a plane that rents for more than $4,000 an
hour. But it was Thanksgiving weekend and the Pasco-Richland area was
where Palin wanted to be.

Palin apparently returned to New York Sunday night. At least UJT750 was
scheduled to take off from Tri-Cities at 6:55 p.m. EST with an 11:30
p.m. arrival at Teterboro, N.J., anticipated. Her next signing is not
until Thursday, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Presumably, she¹ll fly to
Fayetteville and then board her bus again for the short ride to the
local Sam¹s Club. Presumably, she¹ll also fly over the much greater
distances that separate the stops on the western half of her tour, which
stretches from Dallas to Minneapolis. Will she continue to pretend she¹s
riding the bus?

I emailed Tina Andreadis and Jonathan Burnham, HarperCollins¹s
publisher, yesterday to ask:

--How much is Universal Jet Aviation charging?
--Is HarperCollins paying?
--Will Sarah continue to fly throughout the second half of the tour?
--Does anyone else ever ride on the plane with her?
--Can you give me a list of where she actually stayed overnight from
Nov. 18 until her arrival in Tri-Cities?
--I assume she did not use her own name checking in: Can you comment on
my information that she used "Sheeran," her mother's maiden name?
--In regard to the other plane used on Nov. 19-20 in Ohio and Indiana,
was that supplied by [Billy Graham¹s son] Franklin Graham?

Burnham did not reply. Andreadis wrote back: ³Harper has no comment on
the logistics of its tours.²

Oddly, Palin herself let the mask slip a couple of times on Twitter. At
9:48 p.m. on Nov. 21, she wrote, ³Just got off flt.² A few hours later,
she wrote, ³Landed in VA.² Other than that, except for the side trip to
Asheville, N.C., for dinner with Billy Graham?aircraft provided by
Billy¹s son, Franklin, and his evangelical organization Samaritan¹s
Purse?Palin has played along with the charade. Indeed, she may have
insisted on the charade.

There is, of course, nothing the least bit inappropriate about flying
from place to place on a book tour. Back in the day when publishers
still sent non-celebrity authors out in public, I flew on all of mine.
It¹s the only sensible approach. And if someone will spring for an
executive jet, all the better. On the other hand, nobody tried to
pretend I was riding a bus.

What¹s wrong in this instance is the apparent fakery created and
sustained for the sake of building pseudo-populist appeal?and selling
books. Sarah Palin and HarperCollins have consciously tried to give the
impression that she is doing her book tour by bus when the evidence
suggests she is not. At every stop, she¹s been filmed getting off Big
Blue looking rested and radiant. She dazzles onlookers and interviewers
with her seemingly bottomless reserves of energy. And no one suspects
she may secretly be hopping on and off her main means of transport,
UJT750, and resting up in hotels.

Both Palin and the publishing house that has invested so many millions
of dollars in her seem to have felt it would send the wrong message to
let the ³common-sense conservative² be seen winging her away across the
country just like any other good old-fashioned Republican CEO.

The people with whom I spent 18 hours in The Villages last week, waiting
for Palin, would not begrudge her the luxury jet. But they¹re not going
to like hearing they¹ve been had.

Plus: Check out Book Beast for more news on hot titles and authors and
excerpts from the latest books.

Joe McGinniss is the bestselling author of The Selling of the President,
Fatal Vision and Never Enough, among others. His next book, tentatively
titled Sarah Palin¹s Year of Living Dangerously, will be published by
Broadway Books in 2011.

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