How did this happen? In one day, my world went from Sarah Palin as an abstraction somewhere out there in moose country writing a book, to yesterday when suddenly I could not turn on my TV without seeing her face and hearing her voice. Not only is she baaaackkkkk, she's bigger than anything any network has for November "sweeps" programming.

I know how it happened, of course. TV has edmbraced its role in national life as The Great American Sell Machine like never before, and she has something to sell -- something that will sell lots of copies, her new book. That and the fact that the High Mistress of Talk TV, Oprah Winfrey, released a clip of her taped interview with Palin, and everyone kept showing it over and over and over.


Fox's Sean Hannity, Palin's most devoted TV acolyte,  sounded almost breathless Thursday night on his show when he told viewers, "We also have the first clip of the governor's interview with Oprah Winfrey." That came after his fourth or fifth mention that he was going to have the "first cable interview" with her.

One might wonder why I was watching Hannity Thursday night. Actually I watched Bill O'Reilly and Hannity. It wasn't for Palin initially. I was watching to see if they gave aid and comfort to Carrie Prejean after the pasting she took for her petulant and bizarre performance on CNN's "Larry King Live" Wednesday.

O'Reilly did not. He ran the video and seemed to think it was a bizarre scenario himself. Hannity not so much either in the way of Prejean support. He was in full Palin swoon. Too bad for you, Ms. Prejean. Hannity has what he termed a "rock star" to worship. He actually said that, "I've been out of the campaign trail with her [Palin]. She's a rock star."

But the really special part of Hannity's show was the billboard he has with Palin's face on it that announces his upcoming interview. I think it was shown every time they went to commercial. All that is missing is a countdown clock, and I expect I will see that tonight.

With Palin being the new kind of November "sweeps" big event programming, there are a few important questions I think we ought to consider as we watch this media sales blitz.

First, let's see what kind of interview Oprah does. If Palin is going to avoid top TV journalists like Katie Couric, Charles Gibson or John King in favor of syndicated talk show hosts like Winfrey, the hope is that they will step up and not give her a free pass to use their shows to push her ideology in return for a ratings spike.

The clip Oprah put out there Thursday seemed pretty schmoozy to me, but let's not pre-judge.

And let's understand that those who did practice good journalism and helped show voters how unprepared Palin was for the job of vice president, as Couric and Gibson did, will probably be "punished" by not getting an interview. Perhaps, the news organization that employs Couric will be punished as well.

We should treat that as a badge of journalistic honor and not start praising those who do serve Palin's sales campaign as having scored some big "get." I mean that.

And also, let's not let Palin rewrite history in these interviews with folks whom she considers safe. She is out there still trying to spin the Katie Couric interview, which only serves to remind me how terrific Couric, who for my money is one of the five best interviewers working in the medium, was the day when she sat down with Palin and deconstructed the candidate's phony frontierswoman facade.

Me, I'm getting a big scoreboard like Hannity's and I'm putting it on my desk. On it will be the date of Palin's last TV interview. But for now, she owns the medium, because everyone in the business thinks whe will bring ratings and money. She is the new face of sweeps programming in these downsized and less responsible TV days.