Palin, McCain cry "gotcha journalism" with Couric

CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric did a joint interview Monday in Ohio with Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin, and McCain came out denouncing "gotcha journalism" as he defended his running mate in the portion that aired on the CBS Evening News.

With McCain and Palin sitting side by side, the first flare up came when Couric asked Palin about a statement the candidate made over the weekend that the U.S. should launch attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to "stop the terrorists from coming any further in."


In that comment, Palin seemed to be voicing the same position McCain had attacked his opponent, Barack Obama, for stating in their debate on Friday.

"So, Gov. Palin, are you two (she and McCain) on the same page?" Couric asked.


"...We will do what we have to do to secure the United Sates and her allies," Palin said.

"Is that something you shouldn't say out loud, Sen. McCain?" Couric asked.

"Of course not," McCain snapped. "But look, I understand this day and age gotcha journalism... Grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country."

"Are you sorry you said it?" Couric asked returning to Palin.

"Wait a minute," McCain said interrupting. "Before you say is she sorry she said it, this was a gotcha sound bite that...

"It wasn't a gotcha," Couric insisted. "She was talking to a voter."

"No," McCain insisted back, "she was in a conversation with a group of people talking back and forth, and I'll let Gov. Palin speak for herself."

When Couric asked Palin what she learned "from that experience," the candidate replied, "That this is all about gotcha journalism...."

Couric was again focused and forceful in her questioning: "Gov. Palin, since our last interview, you have gotten a lot of flak. Some Republicans have said you are not prepared; you're not ready for prime time... And I'm curious to hear your reaction."

"Well, not only am I ready but willing and able to serve as vice president with Sen. McCain if Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them -- ready with my executive experience as a city mayor and manager, as a governor, as a commissioner, a regulator of oil and gas."

And again, McCain stepped in to defend his running mate.

"This is not the first time I've seen a governor being questioned by some quote expert," he said making quotation marks with his fingers. "I remember that Ronald Reagan was a 'cowboy'. President Clinton was a governor of a very small state that had 'no experience' either. I remember how easy it was going to be for Bush I to defeat him. I still recall, whoops, that one. But the point is that I've seen underestimation before. I'm very proud of the excitement that Gov. Palin has ignited with this party around this country."


Here is one last bit of good work yesterday from Couric, who seems to be at the center of every big story these days. Last night, in an interview with Republican Congressman John Boehner on the failure of the bailout bill, she asked the question everyone in American wanted to ask of many members of the House: "Congressman Boehner, ...what in the world are you people doing?"

In a related matter, The Nielsen Company released final ratings for Friday's debate between McCain and Obama. The audience of 52.4 million was a big one, but it was smaller than the 62.5 million viewers that tuned in for one of the 2004 debates. Analysts expect Thursday's vice presidential showdown between Palin and Sen. Joe Biden will be larger than either of those audiences.

(Photo of Couric and Palin during an interview last week -- courtesy CBS News)

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