Democracy Soup

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Are we going to learn anything about Sarah Palin from these TV ‘interviews’?

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Originally published on on Fri, 09/19/2008 – 9:26am

Charlie Gibson is starting to look better.

No, it wasn’t anything he did. But compared to Sean Hannity’s “interview” of Sarah Palin the last two nights, Gibson rocked.

To say Hannity’s questions were softball doesn’t do it justice. T-ball is closer, but even T-ball seemed harder than his questions. So much for learning more about the person who might be a heartbeat away from the White House.

There will be a third interview: Katie Couric will get the nod for a two-day interview on September 29-30. yes, we have to wait 11 days in between interviews.

As much fun as we make of these “special interviews” with the Republican VP nominee, the Couric will be the 3rd interview in a month since Palin rose to the national stage. Not the third by a TV anchor, the third by anyone.

We learned very little in the Gibson interview and nothing in the Hannity conversation. So what might be coming down the pike for the Couric interview?

Since I am not one of Couric’s biggest fans, let’s hear from CBS MarketWatch’s Jon Friedman and his take on the upcoming Couric-Palin interview.

“We’ll finally have two accomplished women talking to each other on television about the issues. No charges of sexism, no charges of people being unfair to Palin because she’s a woman.”

Finally?? Well, let’s go back relatively recently — like February 10, 2008 — to find another situation where we had two accomplished women talking to each other on television about the issues. [Insert flashback imagery here.] The reporter was Couric, the other woman was Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes.”

Here were the “issues” Couric asked Clinton about: spending the first three questions on the idea that Obama could win the nomination (this was early February after all before he picked up the pace), stamina, how to stay in shape, sleep-deprived staff, and questions such as “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” and “Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?”

And as far as being unfair to women, Couric was sexist for asking the “Miss Frigidaire” question and also by not asking the tough questions a male presidential candidate would have received. As for Couric asking a male presidential candidate tough questions, there was one question that received an answer filled with inaccuracies. Unfortunately, Couric decided not to air the answer from John McCain, and substituted a different answer, a violation of CBS News policy, journalism ethics, and common sense.

This is not to say Friedman isn’t looking forward to the interview he calls “true Must See TV.” But the idea that Couric will be the one to ask tough questions and get good answers is totally inconsistent with anything we’ve seen to this point.

As much as I seriously thought Sarah Palin had a shot of being picked John McCain, I had no idea she would be treated this poorly by the McCain campaign. Whatever we might think about her qualifications, she did get to a point where she had accomplished something. Not enough to be vice president, but where she could stand on her own two feet.

Celebrities promoting a movie are subject to harder questions than she has had so far. Being #2 on the ticket means you need to be able to take the heat. If the McCain campaign had been smart (a stretch these days), they should have put her on all 3 Sunday morning talk shows that weekend — sink or swim.

Maybe she would have sank, but at least we would have some idea about who she is. The McCain campaign tactic of hiding her has damaged any shot she has at credibility. So even when she speaks on policy, we have no idea of whether this reflects Palin’s philosophy at all.

However, there was one tidbit from the Hannity dialogue, not about policy, but something that might have given us some insight into the true Sarah Palin.

Hannity asked her if she watched the Tina Fey impression from last week’s “Saturday Night Live.” Palin said she watched but had “the volume all the way down.” “Again, didn’t hear a word she said…” “I thought it was hilarious. I thought she was spot on.”

This shows the real Sarah Palin: reluctant to consume something that might be negative toward her. After all, Fey’s physical similarity to Palin wasn’t potentially offensive, only what she might have said. But Palin didn’t want any part of that.

Now you could offer that Palin didn’t want to watch it live with the sound up since she was worried about how she would be portrayed. That is fine, but there’s no curiosity to watch it later? See it on YouTube? Have a staff member tell you what Fey said? Nothing at all?

Here are two questions that won’t tax the reporting persona of Couric — after all, they aren’t tough or political — that she could ask:

“You are running for vice president of the United States. That requires a tough skin. Do you feel like you have tough enough skin to be vice president?”

“Do you have curiosity about the rest of the country, policy, the world around you? Give me an example in your life where you were curious about something you knew nothing about, and how it made you stronger.”

Then we really might learn something about Sarah Palin.


Written by democracysoup

September 19, 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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