Thursday, November 13, 2008

Katie Couric, Hero of the Revolution

I'm looking forward to not blogging any more about Sarah Palin, but her explanation given the other day to Matt Lauer about why she couldn't tell Katie Couric what newspapers Palin reads -

you know, questions about, well, you know, 'What do you read up there in Alaska?' To me that was a little bit annoying. Because I'm like, what do you mean, what do I read in Alaska? I read the same things that you guys read in New York. And there in LA and in Washington state.

- reminded me about the pivotal, crucial role Katie Couric played in this year's momentous election.

What was the single most decisive moment in the election, the instant in which the McCain-Palin ticket was irrevocably finished?

Obviously, the financial crisis was the major factor, and McCain seriously hurt his chances by suspending his campaign, urging a postponement of the first debate, and rushing over to Washington, DC to accomplish nothing. That might well have been the second worst moment of the McCain-Palin campaign.

But I don't think it was the worst, because, as the weeks proceeded, McCain's bizarre initial reactions to the financial crisis got diluted by other events.

Not so Katie Couric's CBS interview of Sarah Palin, broadcast on September 30. To this day, I can't understand why Sarah Palin was unable to tell Couric what newspapers she read, or to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe v. Wade. Was Palin advised not to answer questions like this? Hard to believe - as it is hard to believe that she didn't answer because she could not cite a paper or a US Supreme Court decision.

I think that moment, that lack of answer, became indelibly recorded in the opinions many Americans from then on had of Sarah Palin.

Katie Couric and CBS have received a lot of criticism in the past few years. But there was something about Couric's interview style, her soft spoken way of putting her questions, that put Palin at ease and led to this result.

When the histories of this election are written, they will say that the Tiffany Network shone bright again, and the CBS Evening News anchor came through again for America, in that interview. By doing what media interviews are supposed to do - help Americans get to better know their candidates. And, fifteen days later, Bob Schieffer of CBS came through with the best moderation of any of the debates this year.

William Paley would have been proud.

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