Couric strikes again - asks Palin impossible question

Jake Turcotte

With a little more than 24 hours to go before Joe Biden locks horns with the Thrilla' from Wasilla (thanks to our reader Bob who suggested the nickname this morning) it seems everything that Sarah Palin says is under the microscope.  Everything.

For example, a big story in the media today is Palin's curious response to – again Katie Couric – about where the Alaska Governor gets her news.


People can debate all they want about "gotcha' journalism" and whether Palin has been a victim of it.  But asking someone what newspapers they read cannot be stretched even by the most radical of partisans to be in that category. That would truly be a bridge to nowhere. Not even Rush Limbaugh would try to cross that one.

It was a pretty simple question.

"When it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?" Couric asked.

"I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media," Palin responded.

Take two

You think Couric may have had a follow-up to that response?  You'd be correct.  And it wasn't a devious follow-up.  In fact, it was two words.  "What specifically?"

Same response.  "Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years," she said.

This could lead some viewers to think aloud, "How about throwing the hometown paper a bone? The Mat Su Valley Frontiersman. Or the Anchorage Daily News. Or heck, say the Weekly World News. But just name one.

Third time's a charm

No dice. When Couric tried one last time, Palin responded:

"I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too," she said.  "Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."

So let's be fair about this. Is this newsworthy? Does it deserve the paper it's printed on the pixels to render this?

Biden's hostile snowstorm

After all, Joe Biden can lead audiences to believe he was under fire from a hostile enemy and forced down in a helicopter while flying over in Afghanistan. The truth was, he was caught up in a snowstorm.  But he doesn't tell that part.

In fact, fellow Senator John Kerry – who was on the same helicopter – joked about it after the incident stating, "“We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn’t have to do it…Other than getting a little cold, it was fine.”

Shot at (while shaving)

Biden also claimed during a debate last year that he was "shot at" while in Iraq.

"You take all the troops out – you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at," he told the crowd attending the debate.

After the debate, he "clarified" his statement as reported by the Washington, DC political newspaper "The Hill."

“Biden said the incident happened in the morning while he and at least one other senator were shaving. Although he said it shook the building, he wasn’t rattled enough to duck and cover. ‘No one got up and ran from the room—it wasn’t that kind of thing,’ he said. ‘…It’s not like I had someone holding a gun to my head.’ Thinking about it now, he said, a more accurate comment would have been: ‘I was near where a shot landed.’”

He got away with that?

Why does Joe Biden seem to get a free pass?

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told The Vote he wears a coat of teflon for a number of reasons.  Lehane says Biden likes the press and the press likes him and that extends into media coverage.

"He is a good guy whose good guy nature buys him an awful lot of goodwill," Lehane says.  "That's complimented by the fact that he appreciates the truest way to the fourth estate's heart – access and showing them you like them."

Lehane says some extra goodwill exists because some reporters believe he was unfairly treated in the 1988 presidential campaign.  And when Biden screws up – he does it in the right way.

"His gaffes usually do not play into a larger negative storyline that would cause harm to the ticket," Lehane explained.   "He is not doing or saying things that would be seen as arrogant, elitist or inexperienced, which is where the ticket would be vulnerable."

Unfair to Palin?

Why doesn't Palin get the same treatment then?

Republican strategist Trent Duffy explained to The Vote that its because she's an unknown commodity – she's brand new.

"Every time she offers an initial position or has a slightly different take on something it will be magnified," Duffy explains.  "That’s just reality and that’s the risk of a new candidate, the reward of course is the energy she’s bringing to the campaign, so it’s a tradeoff."

Duffy's right.  By claiming to read all of the newspapers – every single one – that is definitely a different take on something.

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