Palin, Maine TV anchor look-alike get national attention

Posted Sept. 19, 2008, at 9:01 p.m.

Move over, Tina Fey: there’s a new Sarah Palin look-alike and she’s from Bangor.

Cindy Michaels, an anchor, reporter and producer for WVII ABC-7/Fox 22, has received both praise and flak for her striking resemblance to Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate. Michaels has long brown hair that she sometimes wears up in a style similar to Palin’s, and she often wears dark-rimmed glasses — the look that has become associated with John McCain’s running mate (and mimicked by Fey on “Saturday Night Live”).

“I’ve actually been getting hate mail and nasty phone calls,” said Michaels, speaking Friday afternoon from the WVII newsroom in Bangor. “People have been saying I’ve been wearing my hair up and glasses so that I look like Sarah Palin, like I’m trying to sway their votes. Like I’m trying to send subliminal messages to people who may be on the fence about who they want to vote for.”

Michaels doesn’t deny the similarities, but says she has been wearing glasses and her hair up for years — long before the look became popularized by the Alaska governor.

“If you’ve seen me on the news for the past few years, you’ve seen that I wear my hair up regularly,” said Michaels. “I’ve been wearing it like that all my life. That’s what I keep telling people.”

One viewer even called in to inform Michaels that she was sure she was trying to blatantly emulate Palin — but that she was doing a bad job of it.

“A woman actually called one night and said ‘What, is this the Kmart version of Sarah Palin, with your cheap plastic glasses?’” she said. “I just thought, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ Why would I be doing it on purpose? That’s just not something I would ever do.”

When WVII received its daily phone call from Fox News headquarters looking for interesting stories from eastern Maine, Michaels and a co-worker suggested they put together a piece about the similarity. It was picked up for national broadcast by Fox News, and later by CNN. The video clip has since received numerous viewings on both the Fox News and CNN Web sites, as well as on YouTube.

Michaels said her family and friends started telling her she looked like Palin when the candidate first stepped into the spotlight about a month ago. She’s not offended by the resemblance — in fact, she’s flattered, since Palin is spoken of frequently as being a very attractive woman.

“It’s a compliment. She’s a beautiful woman, and I respect her and what she’s done. That doesn’t bother me,” she said. “What bothers me is that people somehow think I’m being a biased journalist. It’s really just a huge coincidence.”

The video clip for the WVII story about the Palin-Michaels lookalike phenomenon is available at www.wvii.com. It is not known whether Sarah Palin is aware that she looks like Cindy Michaels.

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