Sarah Palin booed on DWTS, but ABC insists boos were for the night’s highest scores

Sarah Palin was booed when she showed up on Dancing with the Stars last night, but the show’s producers and network are pretending the boos actually had to do with the audience’s disapproval of the judges giving their highest scores of the night.

Late in the first hour, Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough got their score, a 24 out of 30, and Derek said that was “great, fantastic,” because it was a great score. The audience cheered loudly when each judge revealed that they’d scored the couple eight points. But pretty quickly there was audible booing from the audience, prompting Derek to look quizzically out toward the audience and Brook Burke to say, “There’s booing in the ballroom; don’t know why.” Jennifer Grey said, “Why is there booing?”

Then the show cut immediately to Tom Bergeron, who introduced “guest ballroom commentator Sarah Palin.” Was it just coincidence that she entered the studio at the exact same time as all the booing? That’s what ABC wants you to believe: “They were just expressing their feelings about a really, really good dance. It’s not at all unusual,” a network spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.

That’s ridiculous, since Derek and Jennifer were thrilled with their score and got the highest score of the night, never mind the fact that the booing came well after the judges held up their scoring paddles. That would have been the logical time to actually boo, but instead the audience cheered.

Because ABC’s statement makes little sense, executive producer Conrad Green admitted to the Washington Post, “I don’t know why everybody booed” but then says it’s his “guess” that “they were booing because [Jennifer] wasn’t getting 9’s.” He says the audience would have booed Sarah Palin during the interview “rather than doing it before, and then wimping out.”

While The AP ignores the booing, The New York Times says simply that “booing from the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ studio audience could be heard on television before Ms. Palin’s appearance, but the show’s emcees carefully tiptoed around it.”

For her part, Sarah Palin said nothing of substance, but did joke about the judges, calling them “awesome. O.K., now, it’s like before a hockey game — you’re not going to chew out the refs before your team is up to, um, you know, up on the ice. So they’re great. You guys are doing great.”

Here’s video of her appearance and the boos:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.