Friday, November 13, 2009

Betcha Gotcha

Never underestimate how much shear chutzpah, ambition and attractiveness can get a person in this day and age. Try at least $1.2 million.

Take former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who stands to make a fortune from her personal memoir, "Going Rogue." Meanwhile, a lot of media personalities are capitalizing on her box office drawing power for their own benefit. Only in America!

Palin's 413 page memoir was written at break neck speed with ghostwriter Lynn Vincent, who also helped write “Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party.” HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch, will publish a first run of 1.5 million copies.

The Associated Press bought a copy of the book and has printed some of the book's most controversial content. This led Palin to criticize AP for "erroneously reporting the contents of the book" in a Facebook sales pitch Friday, and to ask her fans to "keep your powder dry, read the book."

In “Going Rogue” Palin writes about her childhood, her family, Alaska and the 2008 presidential campaign. Palin says she did the interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric as a favor to her because she felt sorry for Couric’s low ratings. She was asked to do so by Nicole Wallace, a senior John McCain presidential campaign adviser and former CBS News consultant.

The Couric interview took place over several days and covered a wide range of topics. In her book, Palin now describes Couric as condescending, biased and "badgering." And she says CBS News left the most substantive content from the interview on the cutting room floor. Palin says she was taken aback by what she calls Couric's "gothca" questions. For instance, this exchange:

"COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, 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?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news."

This interview was widely viewed, including by members of the McCain/Palin campaign, as devastating for Palin. Since her selection at the Republican convention her popularity had been soaring. The Couric interview was a turning point in the 2008 presidential election.

Friday, CBS News President Sean McManus reacted to Palin’s charges, "In this case, I really do think that the quality of the interview and the quality of the questions speak for themselves." He went on, "It's really difficult for me to think that any of the questions were unfair or any of them were questions that a vice presidential candidate shouldn't be expected to receive."

Palin also criticizes ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson for his arrogance and line of questioning. For instance:

"GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."

Of course, the "Bush doctrine" was well covered by all the newspapers and news magazines for weeks before and after the Iraq war. This wasn't a trick question, nor was the question he asked that led her to observe you can see Russia from Alaska. Nor was the question two weeks later by Couric asking what newspaper's Palin read "to understand the world."

In "Going Rogue" Palin also criticizes the McCain campaign for keeping her bottled up, for making her pay $50,000 in "vetting" expenses, making her wear fancy clothes and mishandling her teen daughter's pregnancy announcement. Particularly noteworthy is that her almost son-in-law, Levi Johnson, is not mentioned in the book.

Now Governor Palin takes her book campaign on the road. Beginning with Grand Rapids, Michigan, she will visit states that any aspiring Republican presidential candidate would target. She has television interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and Rush Limbaugh. And then she runs the gauntlet on Fox News (owned by Rupert Murdoch), Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

Remember, no gotcha questions, please!

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