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First Sarah Palin TV interview to dominate ABC airwaves for two days

September 11, 2008 | 11:22 am

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Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is on the cusp of her first television interview since Republican presidential nominee John McCain shocked the political establishment and tapped her to be his running mate, and it promises to be no small affair.

ABC’s Charles Gibson snagged the exclusive, which the network is turning into a two-day event.

The anchor is doing three interviews with Palin in Alaska –- two today in Fairbanks and one Friday in her hometown of Wasilla. Portions of the sit-downs will run on five separate broadcasts.

The first part will air on this evening’s “World News” broadcast, with transcripts available on ABCNews.com as early as 1 p.m. PT.

“Nightline” will then feature additional excerpts of Gibson’s conversation with the GOP vice presidential nominee, as will Friday's “Good Morning America” and “World News.” Finally, Friday's  “20/20” will be devoted to the interview, packaged with additional reports by Kate Snow about Palin’s background and a live roundtable discussion about the presidential race moderated by George Stephanopoulos.

It’s not a strategy to boost ratings, insisted ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider. The network is stretching the interview out over multiple broadcasts to make the material available as quickly as possible, he said.

“It is not a promotional effort at all,” Schneider said. “It is a reflection of the fact that the interviews are happening at different times on different days, and each of those broadcasts will have fresh material.”

“We are not parceling this interview out. We are putting this out almost as fast as we are getting in. We’re very mindful of the fact that we have an exclusive that the rest of country and even people around the world are very interested in seeing.”

Altogether, Gibson is expected to have well over an hour to quiz Palin. Today’s conversations will occur before and after she attends the induction ceremony for her eldest son, who is being deployed to Iraq.

ABC officials said that the McCain campaign did not place any restrictions on the interview and did not request that it be broken into three parts.

“It’s always our goal to have multiple opportunities” to speak to a subject, Schneider said.

With interest in the Palin interview running high, ABC has loosened the usage restrictions it usually places on competing networks when it has exclusive material. Instead of requiring that news organizations wait until the full interview has aired before running portions of it on their own broadcasts, ABC will be distributing one-minute clips available for air –- as long as the other networks fully credit ABC News, of course.

The gesture is largely moot, since other networks would likely have put the video on their airwaves without permission, arguing its news value made it a fair use exception to copyright laws.

-- Matea Gold

Photo: EPA

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