Sarah Palin had an awkward moment while being questioned on a cable TV show. She clearly could not answer an important specific question and didn’t look as good as when her words are framed by Sean Hannity et. al. The bad, mean, evil mainstream media? Yes/no (circle the one that fits your bias.)
In fact, her bad moment came on Fox News when questioned by Bill O’Reilly who did not do a Sean Hannity (read that p.r. style) interview. Read Andrew Sullivan.
Two things about this:
1. I have long contended that O’Reilly was a really good journalist back in the days when he actually did real journalism. And there are times when his journalistic instincts and training come across in his present Fox News Megastar incarnatin. One of the main tenets of journalism is to ask follow up questions and to press for an answer if an interview subject is clearly trying to avoid answering an issue — particularly if it is an issue they have use as an issue. The interview subject is expected to give details on WHY they feel they do or give more specifics to justify an assertion.
2. This interview suggests that Palin’s political media model — the Fox News/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh model does have its flaws. She will increasingly have to make sure she only goes on shows that won’t challenger her or ask follow ups. I agree with Andrew Sullivan that Nevada’s Republican candidate for Senate Sharron Angle is now following the Palin/Fox model: she will avoid reporters who will ask her tough questions and will instead appear largely on Fox or on shows hosted by conservative talkers who are there to promote her candidacy.
There is a difference between journalism and questioning and public relations and propaganda. O’Reilly opted for the first two here — which puts him in a different class than the rip-n-read partisan softball throwers who Palin and Angle will be
interviewing with giving their verbal commercials to during their political campaigns.
And Sullivan is correct on another one of his oft-stated points as well: it is a sign of the decline of the American press and American journalism that candidates are allowed to get away with this kind of approach – -and the press accepts it as if they are perverting an old Walter Cronkite saying: “Well, that’s the way it is.”
Will Palin or Angle appear on 60 minutes anytime before their big elections?
Possible but don’t hold your breath unless you want to pass out..
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.