As Sarah Palin's star rises, critics expose her dark side

In public she is the family woman in touch with ordinary Americans. But two new accounts allege that in private she's a two faced, mean-spirited bully

She tells lies. She's a lousy tipper. She billed the Republican Party more than $3,000 for the underwear she bought during the last Presidential election, including dozens of Spanx girdles. Oh, and for all the cutesy charm that Sarah Palin projects in public, she's got a nasty habit of bullying staff, losing her temper with friends and family, and, when particularly upset, throwing tin cans at her husband, Todd.

Fresh from a week that seemed to cement her status as the most valuable brand in American conservatism, and saw her both receive top billing at a vast "tea party" rally in Washington, and almost single-handedly alter the direction of a Senate race in her native Alaska, Palin is on the receiving end of a brace of vintage journalistic hatchet jobs from the left and right sides of the political spectrum.

The first, a vast profile of the self-proclaimed "Mamma Grizzly," which covers 18 pages of next month's Vanity Fair, devotes more than 10,000 words to a mixture of revelation, allegation and innuendo regarding both her public and private persona, detailing what it calls her "erratic behaviour," her "pattern of lying," and what the magazine's reporter Michael Gross describes as the "sad, mouldering strangeness" of her everyday existence.

The second comes courtesy of Meghan McCain, the daughter of Palin's former running mate John, whose new book Dirty, Sexy Politics, describes the former Governor of Alaska as a "a time bomb" who is addicted to attention and whose eccentric behaviour brought "drama, stress, complications, panic, and loads of uncertainty," to the 2008 campaign trail.

Like almost everything else that involves Palin – who, despite her habit of avoiding interviews in what she calls the "lamestream media," has still not ruled out a run for the 2012 Presidency – the broadsides are receiving endless attention. As befits an increasingly polarised nation, they are sparking outrage in conservative circles and a mixture of mirth and disbelief in liberal ones. Palin takes issue with the allegation and has responded with an attack on Vanity Fair, calling into question its facts and reporting standards.

In truth, Vanity Fair's article is a curious mixture of un-sourced innuendo and minor revelation which was mostly staggering for its sheer scale. The magazine spent four months trailing the former Alaska governor on the various speaking engagements that have helped her earn $13m since quitting last year.

It alleges she is "warm and effusive in public, and angry in private," that she is paranoid and vindictive towards former friends, and it revels the details of the occasional sense-of-humour failures which inspired the headline: "The Sound and the Fury."

The piece quotes a "friend" of Palin and her husband Todd, who once witnessed a domestic dispute. "They took all the canned goods out of the pantry, then proceeded to throw them at each other," recalls the friend. "As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman."

During the campaign, an un-named "aide" is quoted as claiming that Palin "lashed out" at the slightest provocation, sometimes screaming at staff and throwing objects. Asked about her temper, Todd told a staffer: "You just got to let her go through it... Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn't even mean."

Vanity Fair also claims that Palin signs the autographs in her books with an autopen, requires three hairstylists and make-up artists before public appearances, and despite her principled opposition to immigration, employs an Hispanic housekeeper.

She is also a bad tipper, the article claims. During a recent stay at the Hyatt in Wichita, she gave the bellboy just $5 for seven bags, making her the "all time worst tipper" of the famous people who have stayed there. She also failed to leave money for the maids who cleaned her room.

As suggested by Levi Johnston, the estranged father of her teenage daughter Bristol's child, the magazine also claims that Palin is a lousy and only occasional angler, who exaggerates her interest in fieldsports to win support in conservative circles.

"This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy," a friend of the family was quoted as saying. "That woman has never hunted. She never helps with the fishing either. It's all a joke." Bristol, by the by, has made several hundred thousand dollars from media appearances, and was this week unveiled as a contestant on the popular US television programme Dancing With the Stars.

The Vanity Fair article wasn't all tittle tattle. It also explored Palin's links to extremist Christians – the "prayer warriors" she often cites in speeches – and explored her somewhat opaque finances. It revealed that Timothy Crawford, treasurer of Sarah-PAC, her political action committee, is being investigated in Ohio for alleged campaign finance misdemeanours, and has refused to respond to a subpoena issued by the state's investigators.

Meanwhile, Palin's famously scant general knowledge may be even more flaky than originally thought. When McCain aides prepared her for television interviews in 2008, they allegedly found that – besides thinking Africa was a country rather than a continent – she had never heard of Margaret Thatcher. Palin now cites Thatcher as one of her all-time heroines.

Responding yesterday, Douglas McMarlin, a spokesman for Sarah-PAC, said: "The article is a collection of lies cobbled together by an outlet without standards. As the message continues to succeed, the messenger will continue to be attacked by yellow journalists seeking to increase sales."

Miss McCain, for her part, has attempted to put a marginally more sympathetic gloss on things. Her book reveals that the Republican inner circle was "waiting for her [Palin] to explode" during the 2008 campaign. She adds: "There was a fine line between genius and insanity, they say, and choosing her as the running mate was starting to seem like a definition of that line."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Life and Style
The new model would be a “pedal assist” bike in which the rider’s strength is augmented by the engine on hills and when they want to go fast
tech
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower