While much is being made of the way in which ABC will play anchorman Charles Gibson's interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in pieces beginning tonight as a way to maximize ratings, there is another clever aspect to it that I have not found mentioned much elsewhere.

By airing the interview in chunks across a 28 and 1/2 hour news cycle starting tonight at 6:30, ABC News will also be able to fine tune the editorial content to the reaction of the press and public if executives feel the need.

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Wednesday, former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel was on NPR talking about what a hard place Gibson finds himself in, likely to be criticized by his colleagues in the press if he seems too deferential to Palin, or attacked by the political right if he seems too harsh.

I think the situation could have been even tougher than that for Gibson. The exclusive nature of the interview makes him representative of The American Press, as well as a repository for all the intense and volatile feelings the public holds toward that embattled and somewhat dazed institution these days.

But by breaking the interview up the way it is, ABC executives can alter and balance the ratio of what it airs as they go along. If blog reviews tonight say Gibson was too harsh, ABC execs can feature some of the less contentious moments starting on Good Morning America tomorrow. Ditto for World News Friday. And then, they get the final edit for 20/20 tonight at 10 -- after a full day in which to gauge the reaction to Gibson's performance. Not to mention all the different demographics they will be reaching throughout the day and night.

Plus, since the interview itself will take place in three parts during that time period, Gibson can adjust his style to the reaction.

Speaking of instant feedback, I'll be offering a blog review right after tonight's first installment. See you then.

(Above: AP file photo of Sarah Palin)

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