I've got a couple of questions about The Lifehouse's, a "Christ-centred home environment" for "pregnant and/or parenting teens and women and their children," decision to pay Bristol Palin $14,000 to appear at a $125-per-person fundraiser tonight at the Marriott Louisville Downtown.
(Palin is, of course, the daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a single mother and a public advocate for what she was unable to do--practice abstinence while unmarried.)
If Lifehouse is flying in Bristol Palin to bring publicity to its program, why ban the media in an attempt to "keep the fundraiser low-key"?
In the Aug. 22 Courier-Journal: "The $125-per-person benefit will raise funds toward plans to double the home's capacity, but it's also intended to bring publicity to the program after its low-key startup, executive director Joan Smith said. 'We needed the community to know that we're here,' Smith said. Until recently, 'everything we've done has been by word of mouth,'" she said.
In the Sept. 7 Courier-Journal: "A Louisville home for single mothers is not allowing media coverage of its fundraiser on Wednesday evening featuring a speech by Bristol Palin, the single mother and daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Joan Smith, executive director of The Lifehouse, said the organization made the decision to keep the fundraiser low-key."
And from Lifehouse's own description of the event on its website, "The event will feature a VIP reception for Miss Palin at 5:30 p.m. for honored guests, event sponsors and members of the media."
Was Lifehouse expecting the notoriously cheap members of the media (trust me) to pay for their own $125 ticket? Was the press prohibition pushed on it by Team Palin at the last minute? Or maybe Lifehouse was banking on spreading the good word about its Christian mission through press outrage (in which case, well played).
Doesn't Bristol Palin send the wrong message?
As for Palin's on-again, off-again relationship with her baby daddy, Levi Johnston, which both sides chose to play out in the media, Smith told the Courier-Journal she considers it a positive for single moms, current and future, to hear.
"'The fact that she's in all this drama with the father of her child, it sends a message to these other young women' with similar dramas in their own relationships, Smith said. 'They always think the father of their child is going to be there.'"
Hopefully Palin's appearance won't send the message to these other young women that $14,000 speaking engagements might be there for them too. And Vanity Fair reported that Palin "generates a healthy income from her celebrity and bought a $272,000 condominium." Should Lifehouse's residents expect to do likewise?
Sondra Warren, Lifehouse's program director, admitted to the Courier-Journal that it didn't choose Palin because she's a role model.
“'A role model to me would be that young woman who chooses to complete her high school and go directly into college and remain chaste until she's married,' Smith said. 'But Palin's life “is the reality,' she said. 'She is a role model in the fact that she chose to have her child.”"
I don't know any of The Lifehouse's residents, but I'll bet that none of them are the daughters of governors. Or of mayors for that matter. None of them will have parents picked to run as vice president. And none of them will be asked to compete on "Dancing with the Stars."
Bristol Palin's life is "the reality" only in the context of reality TV--the sort of programming you'd expect "a Christ-centered home environment" to not even show, let alone pay $14,000 for.