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Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson on ABC

Those hoping that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin would burst into tears or start speaking in tongues during her interview with Charles Gibson were no doubt disappointed by the first part of her much heralded “first interview" on "ABC World News" Thursday and then in a slightly expanded form on "Nightline." She did consistently mispronounce the word "nuclear;" but then so did Jimmy Carter, and so does George Bush, and they both became president.

It was a fascinating and unsettling interview nonetheless, first and foremost because it's been nearly two weeks since Republican presidential nominee John McCain announced the Alaskan governor as his chosen running mate and these are the first non-scripted words the American people have heard from her.

For days now, the media has obligingly reacted as if J.D. Salinger had suddenly decided to break his decades-long silence. Caught up in an anticipatory frenzy usually reserved for damage-control celebrity sit-downs -- Paris Hilton on "Larry King," Tom Cruise on "Oprah"-- everyone seemed to forget that this is a vice presidential candidate, a public servant who should not be playing hard to get with reporters and whose main job it is to articulate the positions and policies of her ticket.

Even Gibson acted as if he feared this might be the one shot the entire Fourth Estate gets, conducting what was essentially a high-level, high-pressure interview with a job candidate who quickly revealed that her skill set is heavy on can-do-attitude, and light on company policy comprehension. Appearing momentarily stricken by some of the almost professorially pointed policy questions -- and embarrassingly baffled by his reference to the Bush Doctrine -- the Alaskan governor never missed a beat, though in fine political style she managed avoid to more questions than she answered, or at least answered in a way that had little connection to the question.

An early question about her experience on the international stage led to a wonky description of her attempts to free America of its foreign oil dependence. Increasingly specific questions about Iran and Pakistan were answered wth carefully vague though inarguably aggressive phraseology: America must never blink, or second-guess Israel. It should "keep an eye on Russia" and exercise all options regarding terrorism but work to create a world in which war was not the first option.

"War," Sarah Palin said with seeming utter sincerity, "is hell."

Palin seemed to relax a bit during the "Nightline" interview when, as she and Gibson strolled along the trans-Atlantic pipeline, the news anchor grilled her about her disagreements with McCain on global warming and drilling. She seemed willing to concede that human activity may be contribuing somewhat to the effects of global warming, but stuck with her support of drilling on 2,000 acres of now federally protected wilderness.

"I’m going to keep working on that with him," she said with a smile.

Still, the inevitable parsing and analysis of Palin’s answers and performance in this interview, however tempting, is almost beside the point. In this case, her actions, or non-actions, have spoken much louder than any words. She didn’t blink, she told Gibson, when McCain asked her to join his ticket. But she certainly blinked after. What sort of reform-minded politician waits two weeks before giving an interview?

Since when it is OK that the American people have to wait in breathless anticipation for its nominated candidates to speak to them en masse? Since when do we have to rely on a single interview, from a single source, to introduce us to a woman who claims she would be privileged to lead us?

In a world that is measured by milliseconds, a broken-up hour is too short to offer, a week is simply too long to wait. Such manipulation of a public moment is simple exploitation. If Palin was trying to prove that she’s just a sense-talkin’ hockey mom from Alaska, she couldn’t have gone about it in a more wrong-headed way.

- Mary McNamara

Comments () | Archives (29)

Very poor article...Democrates will LOOSE the election because of articles like this... The Republicans and Independents of america will come out in droves in support of McCain/Palin....for that, we have you to thank....

This is a complete joke of a news article. You need to disclose yourself as a left wing commentator and not a journalist. When did journalism die in this country? You are no different than the right wing talk show host of internet bloggers.

This is the most bias interview by a very bias Charles Gibson, i cannot believe that he took such a stance. Liberal media is truly afraid of SARA PALIN, Thank God for her. Women should stick up for her, and assist her win the VP. The hatred by these women hating men is unbelievable. Such bias is unforgivable. They misconstrue her words, and nit picking. When Dan Quyale was VP, and won, I don't know anyone who ever heard of him. Who in the world ever vetted him. He was never scrutinized and whipped as much as SARA PALIM. Tomorrow I swear I will go out and work for the MCCAIN, tickit. SAy NO, to NOBama/NoBIDEN

I couldn't agree more. The only reason I can think of for her silence is her fear of saying the wrong thing. She may be an intelligent person, but I don't think she is ready to be our Commander in Chief.


This is a rather pathetic party piece. I saw a different interview I guess. I think Gov Palin handled herself very well when it was obvious the interviewer was trying to trap her into a misstatement. The drivel about manipulation of a public moment and of her holding out on the public was very weak. This lady has been the most direct and clear spoken of any candidate we have seen. She conducts herself with dignity and courage. I am reminded of a phrase from Oklahoma. I ain't no better than anybody else, but I'll be damned if I ain't just as good. She seems ready and able to look with clear eyes and act for the public good with dispatch while swimming with sharks.

Are you kidding me? Sarah Palin did a great job handling Charile Gibons "high pressure, high level interview". Unlike Barack Obama, she answers questions head on rather than spinning answers so appeal to the masses. Sarah Palin is not running for President, but is being treated like she is. I wish Barack had these same interviews before he was nominated for the Democratic candidate.

That was embarrassing. NOt knowing the bush doctrine? Repeating canned answer after canned answer? She is obviously not prepared to be V.P.

Since when is hockey mom or little league baseball coach a desirable trait for the highest office in the land. I want smart people, people smarter then me. I am interested in what my neighbor thinks but I don;t want him in the White House.

Consistently, we have seen a dumbing down of America. Let's hope we don;t continue the trend by electing an obviously unqualified V.P. (can you say Dan Quayle) and a President who was 5th from the bottom in his college class.

I thought Gibson was way out of line. Obama is running for President (not VP) and has the same questions about his foreign policy exp. ... yet this is what he asks Obama...


In Summary: Gibson asks Obama things like what do your little girls think of you being such a great man who is going to be the next President.

Gibson is out of his mind. When two people debate they both are on a level playing field but when the other person debating is the guy that made up the freaking questions it's totally unbalanced. That is why real journalists try and ask the questions and follow up with more probing questions if they were looking for more...Gibson DIDN'T follow up...he attacked and argued.

And the "Bush Doctrine" can mean any number of things (which has changed over time)...she followed up and wanted to know what Gibson meant by it and that's where Gibson showed his true colors...never in the history of an interview of a President or VP canidate has a reporter had such little respect for the subject to give them a pop quiz. And certainly not on something as stupid as what it the Bush Doctrine. What in the world does that have to do with anything.

I hope Gibson is just a hardcore Democrat and didn't attack Palin because he doesn't think a woman can lead.

It is like sara palin has an afraidness in her eyes and not confident in all part of her answers.
she has no intelligence and creativity, the way she answered question. she is only better in a small town or one state but not to lead the whole USA and other nation...

Cora Baity

The MSM joined the blogosphere on the island of the Lord of the Flies, whipping themselves into a conch swinging frenzy, at the announcement of Palin's candidacy. The result was shame for the entire country and a few more revolutions in the graves of true journalists of days past, like Murrow and Cronkite... err... forget Cronkite. I mean, don't, he just seems dead because he hasn't said anything about his profession's decline.

It's a shame any of our candidates have to go through your deeply flawed media to get to the voter.

Gibson spliced Palin's prayer quote, trying to get a gotchya.

You and CNN edited the end of her Russia quote, where she specifically says the NATO response does not have to be with military action.

Fortunately, the US citizenry is not full of quite as many chumps as you think.


You ask these questions.......

What sort of reform-minded politician waits two weeks before giving an interview?

Since when it is OK that the American people have to wait in breathless anticipation for its nominated candidates to speak to them en masse? Since when do we have to rely on a single interview, from a single source, to introduce us to a woman who claims she would be privileged to lead us?

I suggest that the answer to that is when the news media begins to act and conduct themselves like news reporters with professionalism and respect for reporting the facts and not like part of one campaign. Its sickening and shameful.

Bruce T.

Well, I guess she could have waited 1.5 years to grant an interview like Obama did the Fox News Channel! Also, talk about not answering the question - did anyone watch Obama muddle through the forum on national service? He never directly answered a question. As for Charlie Gibson, he should be embarrassed today - his "school marm" sternness, accessorized by his antiquated reading glasses were a shallow attempt to intimidate her. I am a journalist too, and I am embarrassed to be one today. He has a BA in journalism, just like me, and his questions were lacking in substance, indirect, and a clear attempt to "trip her up." Get real America - this confident, intelligent woman is here to stay.

I think that Sara Palin has been guarded with the media so as to protect herself from it. Its obvious that the media in this country is, without a doubt, supporting Hussein Obama for president. As such, they are looking to discredit and twist and pervert every word she says. As was the case with ABC's lil' be-ach Charlei Gibson.. He was disrespectful and arrogant.... as expected. The repulicans should have insisted on a FOX anchor because at least they claim fair and inpartial journalism.
If your NAZI candiadate Obama does get elected then mabey he will attack the 4th amendment like he plans to do with the 2nd and put a muffler on you worthless, scumbag parasites. This nation would be far better off without the media and entertainment (Thanks for your political insight Matt Damon - and you are qualified to offer your advise based on what?) seeking to brainwash its opinions into the people of this nation. Stick to your guns Sara; remain genuine, decent and approachable america loves you becasue you are one of us - not one of them...

"Gibson’s probing of a videotaped claim that the Iraq war is a task from God led to a rather convoluted explanation - that it was really a paraphrase of an Abraham Lincoln quote that seemed, frankly, utterly dissimilar."

You might want to take the time to read the actual quote from Lincoln and then the actual quote from Palin.

Gibson was wrong. And you have missed the point.

Palin never said the war was a task from God. She said to pray that these men who are being sent there are on a mission from God and in the right.

It's intellectually deficit not to get off the linguistic couch and do your own homework.

It's interesting that the leftist media wants to attack Sarah Palin so instinctively like phiarannas at every opportunity, yet are perfectly happy to never look into their hoped-for candidate's election by means of hiding Obama's shady past.

"Since when it is OK that the American people have to wait in breathless anticipation for its nominated candidates to speak to them en masse? Since when do we have to rely on a single interview, from a single source, to introduce us to a woman who claims she would be privileged to lead us?
...... Such manipulation of a public moment is simple exploitation. If Palin was trying to prove that she’s just a sense-talkin’ hockey mom from Alaska, she couldn’t have gone about it in a more wrong-headed way."


couldn't agree more. truly frightening that the mccain campaign can tell media to back off and they do. his campaign says you can interview her when you learn how to be polite and deferential. really? she's going to work in the biggest office on earth and the media should be concerned about grilling her? it's clear what they're trying to hide. palin's ignorance and arrogance is truly frightening.

It is old new that the interview happened a week later - you've missed the chance to spin it - and are out of touch with people to think it's a bit deal - especially if you frame it on how much time is left before the election. It would be a different story if she didn't speak to the press until a week before the election. Between now, and then, winning has as much to do with what is said and done as it does with the strategy behind when and how it's said.

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