I held off on writing about this on Monday out of deference to the righteous national remembrance of 9/11 that many Americans took part in.
But this week brings another anniversary, a far less sacred one to be sure, but one that is nevertheless worth thinking about for a minute or two especially by members of the media.
On Sept. 11 and 12, 2008, ABC News aired Charlie Gibson's interviews with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. They marked the beginning of the end for one of the most woefully unqualified and dangerous candidates ever put forth for the second highest office in the land. By the end of the month, Katie Couric, then the anchor at CBS News, had finished Palin off and showed what a shamelessly cynical choice presidential candidate John McCain had made for his running mate.
It's worth thinking about in this context: Four years ago, the press was doing its job brilliantly of providing voters with the kind of data they needed to make an informed choice at the polls. This year, what the press is mainly doing is choosing up ideological sides or complaining about how little fun there is in their jobs of covering the race for president. I wonder why the public hates us so much.
I know, based on emails and calls I got even from folks I consider friends, it's off limits to say the press is debased as I did in writing about Fareed Zakaria and David Frum saying they think it's OK for people to appropriate quotes gathered by other journalists without giving credit.
I'm sorry, the press is debased -- that's exactly the word. Just look back at any night of MSNBC covering the conventions. Or spend 10 minutes any morning with "Fox & Friends" when the stooge hosts are trying to see who can hit their down and dirty talking points on President Obama the hardest. Or, look at the fact that so many journalists who know better were willing to act like it really might be OK to use quotes without attribution because two non-journalists who are on TV in quasi-journalistic roles said it was.
Couric rightfully received plaudits for her work in 2008. I had mine up within minutes after her interview ended.
But Gibson, not so much. HBO's "Game Change," the film about the 2008 based on the best-selling non-fiction account, included his interview prominently, but many remember only Couric's.
Here's what I wrote four years ago on Sept. 12. It was my second review of Gibson. The first had been posted right after Part One of the interview aired on Sept. 11.
ABC anchorman Charles Gibson displayed some of his trademark geniality in the closing moments of the last of three interviews with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seen Friday on ABC World News.
He could afford to. He had served the public well during the heavily scrutinized conversation. He had given voters a much better sense of Palin's limitations than they had before he and she sat down to talk in Alaska this week.
Just as he had with round one on Thursday, Gibson won rounds two and three Friday challenging her on the way she has portrayed her role in the pork barrel project known as "The Bridge to Nowhere" and pressing for specifics when she tried to offer platitudes on the nation's economic malaise...
Charlie Gibson wasn't whining about not having enough fun or not finding joy in covering presidential politics. He just sat down in front of the cameras and did a job that served the citizens of this country. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that's worth remembering.
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