Seeing HBO's latest trailer for "Game Change," the made-for-TV version of the 2008 GOP presidential campaign with John McCain and Sarah Palin, brought back memories of the early days of Z on TV when I was doing media-and-politics 24/7 -- and loving it.
And then, check out some of my on-the-run, review of the interview posted about 15 minutes after part one of the Gibson-Palin sitdown aired. (My 2008 copy is in bold face after the video.).
Z on TV was less than a month old in September of 2008, and I think we had about 85,000 page views that night for this post -- making me think this blogging business was going to be a piece of cake. Right, Z.
ABC anchorman Charles Gibson came across as a stern, no-nonsense senior professor putting a graduate student through a tough exam in the first part of his interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
It was round one of a three-part interview that will air on the network through tomorrow night, and you had to give it as a split decision to Gibson. But he was far from perfect, and he clearly received a lot of help from the way the interview was edited.
The usually genial Gibson was firm and authoritative without being hectoring as he and the Republican vice presidential candidate sat stiffly knees to knees in leather chairs discussing God, national security and the possibility of military action against Russia if it invades Georgia again. Gibson wasted no time in the excerpted portion of the interview that aired on ABC World News in asking about her qualifications.
"Can you look the country in the eye and say, 'I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?'"
When Palin said she doesn't hesitate in saying "yes," Gibson asked her if that didn't perhaps show some "hubris."
Palin countered that it shows "confidence" and and "being so committed to the mission."
Probably not the best first question. What would she say, "No, I am not qualified"?
It would have perhaps been much better to specifically go over her resume with the candidate. But you see can also see the interviewer's strategy of trying to get inside Palin's mind and see if she is at all self-reflective. From the answer he received, it would appear she is not.
Gibson also pressed Palin on a statement she made in her church: "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." "Are we on a holy war?" he asked.
She dodged adroitly by saying she was essentially paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln.
But in the language of TV, the most important part of the exchange might have nothing to with Gibson or Palin or anything they said. It was instead the dark, grainy You Tube video the editors inserted to show her standing in the church talking about God and war in the rhetoric of George Bush.
Palin's worst moment came when Gibson asked if she agreed with the "Bush Doctrine." She clearly didn't know what the doctrine was, and after he let her blah,blah blah some platitudes, he told her and the audience what the Bush doctrine was (essentially American has the right to pre-emptive strikes against another country if it feels threatened).
A real professor probably would have failed her right there.
Never forget though the tremendous control ABC News has in its ability to edit the tape. At least twice, the seams showed and you could see that in the actual interview Gibson had let Palin filibuster a talking point. But in the version that aired, what you saw instead was an edit timed so that it came just as he asked what appeared a tough question, cutting her off.
A last thought: Some fans of the ususally genial Gibson will probably be reading all sorts of things into his stern demeanor. I thought it necessary, but we'll see how it plays.
This is fun. Can't wait for round two. See you and Gibson and Palin tomorrow.
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