…the resultant hectoring, mendacious little ball of hysteria would be hired by ABC News.
Or already has been.
Charlie Gibson’s much-awaited prime-time network interview with Governor Sarah Palin aired last night on ABC News. The normally likeable and professional anchor was nowhere to be found. In his place someone had substituted a bizarre changeling: one who combined the annoying habit (popularized by FNC’s Bill O’Reilly) of stepping abruptly on the interviewee’s answers with the disturbing practice (for which the NYT’s Maureen Dowd has become notorious) of completely changing the meaning of a quote by way of selective editing and strategic ellipses.
To witness the former, just click on the above link to watch the video. At one particularly eye-rolling moment, Gibson interrupts Palin mid-sentence, explaining with a smirk that he was “lost in the blizzard of words.” Having laid out spike strips in the path of a perfectly legit answer to a complex question, he tells her to start over. No matter how many times she answers his questions, his solution is to ask them over and over again in the hopes that he’ll get his “gotcha” answer. Remind me again how Einstein defined insanity…?
To witness the splice-job worthy of the name of Dowd, listen to his lead-in regarding Governor Palin’s address to ministry students at her old church in Alaska some time ago, in a benediction seeing off Alaskan troops going off to war in Iraq. In the following quote, the boldfaced text is what Gibson (most likely taking his cue from the AP) quoted Palin as having said to the students. The added text without emphasis, which is what Gibson and the AP left out, provides the missing context:
“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God…That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”
Through careful snipping, Palin’s quote was transformed from a prayer that our soldiers and leaders were doing God’s will into a flat-out statement of fact that they were; does nobody see a difference? On top of that, Gibson twisted the knife by describing the snipped version (to Palin’s face) as “exact words.” Either this was a malicious lie, or Gibson did extraordinarily sloppy background work on an important question. I prefer to think the latter is true, though I’m not crazy about my choices.
I don’t think Gov. Palin benefitted a whole lot from this interview, outside of the fact that Gibson never managed to land a knockout punch. However, I do think she did as well as she could with what was presented to her. Given Gibson’s antics, that doesn’t amount to much.