Friday, September 12, 2008

ABC's Gibson grilled Palin hard, but it may backfire

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- There were no surprises, no knockout zingers, but also no bloopers Thursday night in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's first TV interview since becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Charles Gibson of ABC News was out for blood and inherently applied a double-standard compared with the kid gloves George Stephanopoulos used on Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois on Sunday night.

Gibson was out to embarrass Palin and expose her presumed ignorance from the word go. By contrast, when Obama referred to his "Muslim faith" on Sunday and did not correct himself, Stephanopoulos rushed in at once to help him and emphasize that the senator had really meant to say his Christian faith.

By contrast, Gibson tried to embarrass Palin by referring to her Christian faith in asking people to pray for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Palin countered by pointing out she was following the precedent set by Abraham Lincoln.

Palin also expressed her support for Georgia and Ukraine joining the U.S.-led NATO alliance. That statement was predictable and consistent with the current policy of the Bush administration. The policy has dangerously raised tensions with Russia, but Palin is hardly alone in the conservative/Republican consensus in expressing her support for it.

Palin's assessment of foreign policy was competent and not embarrassing. Although she initially exhibited ignorance of the Bush Doctrine on pre-emptive strikes that has been a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she recovered quickly and then made the case clearly. Tactically, she made the mistake of trying to be friendly and informal with Gibson, who assumed a superior, professorial and critical stance toward her. She would have been far better going on the attack to rattle him.

The double-standard Gibson applied to Palin, compared with the uncritical media platforms repeatedly offered to Obama, who has had zero executive experience running anything, was especially striking. ABC and Gibson focused on Palin as if she were running right now for the presidency rather than the vice presidency. He and other media pundits, by contrast, have never asked the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, if he has ever had to make a decision on anything.

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