I would rarely suggest a press conference is better than a one-on-one interview, but the fact that Sarah Palin won’t meet the grubby press plays right into the Republican script, which these days is going quite nicely.
Palin won’t answer questions without a schedule. Now with a planned set of interviews with Katie Couric, like last week’s set of interviews with Charles Gibson, it gives her a way to look candid without really being candid at all. She’s not an interview. She’s an event. She’s a "get."
You’ll recall that Palin seemed to duh out when Gibson asked her about the Bush Doctrine. But by persisting, Gibson looked like the mean guy and she looked like the victim. And that’s just not right. So if Katie Couric asks a question and then commits the vile act of asking follow-ups—or perhaps asks a series of questions that may seem, well, unladylike—the anvil will fall on Couric’s rudeness. Americans will say, "No wonder Hockey Mom doesn’t do interviews. They always ask her questions she can’t answer." And somehow, that will make sense.
If the Alaska governor would meet the riff-raff press, with their shouting, desperate but always varied questions, we’d have a better chance of seeing Palin think, act and talk on her toes. No need for that.
As it is, high profile journalists are now rewarded by being able to do what all journalists ought to be able to do routinely, which is talking to the candidates about the issues. It’s ridiculous that Palin is getting millions of dollars of free exposure, which, if she survives it without looking like a complete dolt, will transform her into something like "presidential." It is absolutely perfect marketing.
One other thing strikes me about the McCain-Palin ticket: It’s the anchorman-anchorwoman formula, also a brilliant strategy, planned or not.
Think of all the newscasts that feature the avuncular old pro who’s been at the station for years, teamed with the youthful, attractive female anchor. He’s the cranky, old salt who tells it like it is and jokes he can’t figure out that that My Friendbook, let along work that damn newfangled fax machine. She’s the breath of fresh air who humors the old coot and draws in the women and younger demos. My intention, of course, is not to demean female anchors or older male anchors; the May-December anchor formula is well known. He teaches; she learns.
By P.J. Bednarski
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