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Posted in: Feminism, Culture Wars & Censorship

Published on Sep 12, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Charlie Gibson: This is No Way to Interview a Vice-Presidential Candidate Even if She is Sarah Palin


I watched ABC News Anchorman Charlie Gibson interview Governor Palin last night and was horrified by his blatant disdain for her and by the Grand Inquisitorial nature of the interview. He was not there to draw her out but to trap, shame and expose her as an unqualified fraud. He never smiled. He never paused. He literally looked down at her as he peered through his half-lowered glasses. He grilled her relentlessly, on and on, and when he thought she did not have the right answer e.g. as to what the Bush Doctrine really is, he "failed" her right on camera.

According to Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, it was Gibson who failed to understand that the Bush Doctrine has evolved through four phases and is not about America's right to pre-emptive deterrence. Take that, you uninformed bully.

In addition, Judith Weiss, a sister-blogger and moderator of the super-excellent LiberalHawks listserv group, has called my attention to the NewsBusters' unedited transcript of the Gibson interview. ABC manipulated the hell out of the interview–they sliced and diced context and content in an attempt to present Palin as slightly flustered, unsure, superficial, and dangerous. Weiss demands that ABC release the entire unedited interview. PJM's own Glenn Reynolds has suggested that from now on, interviewees should take their own camcorders with them on the set–and then release the unedited interview on the internet.

If Gibson represents the kind of gauntlet the mainstream media has in store for Palin–I suggest that in the future she come fully armed! (Just joking but I'm not sure what else would inspire any civility towards her).

Contrast this with O'Reilly's interview with Obama. They were affable, jocular, relaxed. Both were "tough" but there was a level playing field between them. Obama has a habit of "touching" his opponents. He did this with Hillary, and I've seen him do it with McCain. He did this again with O'Reilly. Obama just enters their personal physical space. Psychological research on "touching" indicates that it is a statement of power. Whoever does the "touching" is indicating that he is the more powerful of the dyad. Thus, "touching" is not necessarily a touchy-feely anti-corporate kinda thing but is quite the opposite.

Contrast the Gibson-Palin scandal with the interviews of both candidates last night at Columbia University by PBS's Judy Woodruff and Richard Stengel. The candidates were not on stage at the same time, although they met long enough for Obama to assert his "touching" authority over McCain. (McCain keeps calling for Obama to join him in coast-to-coast Town Hall meetings; Obama has not yet responded.) In any event, the Columbia interviewers were respectful and even-handed to both McCain and Obama. Both candidates were allowed to speak at length. Neither were badgered. I must admit, both candidates and perhaps the subject (National Service) was a bit boring. I literally found myself falling asleep. Obama looks older than when he first began this campaign. Oddly enough, McCain does not. Both candidates drew applause (Obama drew more). Both candidates agreed that Columbia should allow the ROTC back on campus. McCain was genial, likeable, Obama was eloquent and smooth.

A Final Word for Charlie Gibson: Look: It is fine to disagree with someone on the issues. But this must be done with civility, not hostility. And, I am not sure that the interviewer has as much right to air his views and reveal his own biases on camera as does his interviewee, especially if she, not he, is running for the Vice-Presidency. The hostility of the Gibson interview is one more example of how the culture wars in America are playing out. I have even suggested that this war might very well worsen and become the beginnings of a Civil War if Obama does not win.

The following comment illustrates the difference between how Gibson interviewed Obama and Palin:

cedarford:A woman at a Hillary website (nom de plume - Nancy Kallitechnis) posted what she found reviewing Gibsons questions to Obama compared to the questions he later asked the VP nominee Palin:

The following is a breakdown of the questions asked of the nominees:

Obama interview:

How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?
How does it feel to "win"?
How does your family feel about your "winning" breaking a glass ceiling?
Who will be your VP?
Should you choose Hillary Clinton as VP?
Will you accept public finance?
What issues is your campaign about?
Will you visit Iraq?
Will you debate McCain at a town hall?
What did you think of your competitor's [Clinton] speech?

Palin interview:

Do you have enough qualifications for the job you're seeking? Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?
Aren't you conceited to be seeking this high level job?
Questions about foreign policy
-territorial integrity of Georgia
-allowing Georgia and Ukraine to be members of NATO
-NATO treaty
-Iranian nuclear threat
-what to do if Israel attacks Iran
-Al Qaeda motivations
-the Bush Doctrine
-attacking terrorists harbored by Pakistan
Is America fighting a holy war? [misquoted Palin]

There's no doubt the Charles Gibson interviews showed extreme prejudice against Palin and extreme favoritism towards Obama…He constantly questioned her ability to lead but never questioned Obama's ability to lead..

I showed this to a few co-workers. Two of the women, both Obama supporters, were completely disgusted with the dramatic difference in the puffball questions Obama got compared to Palin. Both were offended and said the media was so in the bag for Obama that they never would question the media is sexist, was out to destroy Hillary, and now is working on Palin while "our guy" is clearly getting red carpet treatment..Then one said - you know, seeing this shit happen makes me think he isn't my guy…I really feel for Gov Palin getting abused like that..

Link to what may be Nancy from Cal Tech's work and Anchoress's own (irate) thoughts on the smear editing work Gibson's staff did was by The Anchoress, at her website: http://theanchoressonline.com/2008/09/12/side-by-side-gibson-questions-more/

A NOTE TO MY READERS

I read each comment and learn a great deal from them. I have had to asterisk quite a few Comments today. Please remember: No direct insults: Basic Netiquette 101. (I am so old-fashioned). I do not understand why someone like "Gina," who sent a Comment late on Sunday evening, has to write the following: "She (Sarah Palin) is dumber than a bunch of rocks! She is Alaskan Trailer Trash."

Gina: Are you one of those Natural Born Killers? Have you watched too many cop shows, judge shows, or reality shows, and do you now believe that insulting someone in public office is the same as criticizing their views? It is not.


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