The 20/20 Interview

[Update: If you agree with that Charlie Gibson should have informed viewers of his misquote and mischaracterization of Palin’s words, let someone at ABC know.]

I just watched the 20/20 interview Charlie Gibson did with Sarah Palin. In my opinion, the biggest news to come out of it is that Charlie Gibson did not apologize to Sarah Palin for misquoting her “exact words” in the first part of the interview, and even worse did not apologize to his viewers for giving them incorrect information and misleading them to believe that Palin was a nutty Christian bent on Holy War. He did not issue a correction when he had the perfect opportunity. The huge mistake he made was in the first day of interviewing. He has since had a chance to realize his mistake, since many have pointed it out. He had an interview with Palin the following day, and an hour of network television, with more to come on Nightline tonight so he had the perfect opening to set the record straight. For all the fact checking Gibson and ABC did of Palin (probably more than they have done of Obama the past two years), he didn’t think to check his own facts and then when he realized they were wrong, did nothing to correct the information for his viewers. No wonder people trust used car salesmen more than journalists these days. At least the people I know do. If you are not yet aware of the “exact words” Gibson misquoted, there is a great post containing transcript and video at Dartblog.

As for the setup piece Kate Snow did — it was almost entirely devoted to countering things Palin has said, rather than serving as a brief biographical overview. She started by showing clips of Palin repeating the same lines over and over again on the stump. The exact same segment could have been done with any presidential candidate. Stump speeches are pretty uniform. That’s why they are known as stump speeches, not policy speeches or major addresses. Believe it or not candidates do not craft completely different speeches for every single town they visit on the campaign trail — they even tell the same jokes more than once. I have not looked back on all the pieces they have done on Obama to make sure they didn’t also do the same for him, but I doubt it very seriously.

Snow showed the line about selling the jet and then attempted a “gotcha” by saying that Palin did get rid of the jet, but then spent 40, 000 to fly she and her family all over the place. Snow forgot to mention that selling the jet brought the state 2.1 million dollars. Instead of saying Palin saved the state of Alaska $2,960,000 by selling the jet, she presented only that she got rid of the jet, but still charged the people of Alaska over $40,000.

Another thing in the Snow piece that was glaringly incomplete and misleading — she said Palin is being investigated for firing someone who would not fire a state trooper that was going through a messy divorce with her sister. Not that she had voiced concern over a trooper with a badge and a gun that drank in his patrol car, tasered his eleven-year-old stepson and threatened to kill Palin’s family members. But why bother the viewers with insignificant details like that? I know this will be hard to believe, but I really did expect more from ABC. I guess I just thought that with all the atttention on this interview they would try to play it straight down the middle. I guess they just don’t care about what people think of their journalistic integrity — at this point it’s all about making sure their guy wins.

Not all was bad. The interview did elicit some information from Palin that I found of value and she looked and sounded confident and at ease unlike in the first day’s interview. The roundtable at the end was fair and interesting. And best of all, the scenery from Alaska was absolutely breathtaking.

Update: Must read Krauthammer on the Bush Doctrine.

Update II: John in Carolina has posted a video that shows past Presidents discussing God and America. Maybe Charlie Gibson missed these rather insignificant, obscure presidents’ remarks — FDR, Truman, JKF, Reagan and some guy named after the hurricane that is hitting Texas today.

Update III: Newsbusters posts excerpts from the interview and highlights the portions that we left on the cutting room floor. After Gibson went on and on saying Palin didn’t present the country with her whole record, look at the way ABC presented Palin’s interview. Note how many of the statements best showing Palin’s knowledge of foreign affairs were cut.

Update IV: Take this quiz and guess which of these difficult questions were asked of Democrats and which of Republicans.

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You stay classy, Obama.