We all know how dreadful and unprofessional the media has acted toward Sarah Palin since her surprise debut on the national stage. Asking questions about her positions and examining her life and experiences — it was all way out of line, and the McCain campaign wasn’t shy about saying so. After complaining of Palin’s treatment for a week, the McCain campaign told The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder on Friday that if the liberal media elites wanted answers directly from the pit bull’s mouth, they would have to wait. Palin wouldn’t do any interviews with the media until she was “ready” and “comfortable,” which “might not be for a long while.” But then they quickly changed strategy, announcing Sunday that Palin would sit down with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson later this week. However, many are already skeptical about grandfatherly Gibson’s ability to ask the tough questions. And it’s clear that despite a brief cease-fire, the McCain campaign sees the spat with the media as a war worth fighting.
• Chuck Todd and friends suggest some of the questions Palin may face: “Without mentioning her supervision of the Alaskan National Guard (a task all governors have), her state’s proximity to Russia, and her son’s military service, what qualifies her to be commander-in-chief in such turbulent times?” Or, how about, “Why did she originally back the infamous Bridge to Nowhere?” [First Read/MSNBC]
• Steve Benen claims Charles Gibson is being rewarded for his friendly McCain interview during the Republican National Convention, in which McCain made assertions that were “demonstrably false, but Gibson didn’t challenge McCain on any of them.” Palin should do fine in the interview, and while Gibson may feel a need to make up for his performance with McCain, “he probably doesn’t want to lose his shot at the first exclusive sit-down with Todd Palin.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]
• Josh Marshall notes that “multiple interviews” will be done with Gibson over two days, which is far from the norm for political interviews because “it makes the questioning entirely at the discretion of the person being interviewed and their handlers.” The interviewer has to be on his “best behavior” at least until the last interview, or risk losing access to the candidate. Consequently, the Gibson interview will be “unwatchable.” [Talking Points Memo]
• Glenn Thrush is less skeptical, wondering how Palin will “hold up under a grilling about the future of NATO, the mortgage securitization crisis or Troopergate,” and contends that even after tutorials with Joe Lieberman, “the potential for embarrassment remains significant.” [Politico]
• Peter A. Brown writes that the McCain campaign’s battle against the media is a strategy that “builds on frustration with almost all things Washington, D.C., and the public perception that the news media is just another part of the governing elite there.” It’s novel for a campaign to use such a tactic “during the closing months of a presidential campaign.” The media is viewed rather poorly by the American public, which is why “you can expect to see Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin taking shots at the news media from now through November.” [Political Perceptions/WSJ]
• David Carr writes that “while Ms. Palin may be unfamiliar to the hosts of Sunday morning political shows and to readers of the letters page of The Washington Post,” readers of women’s magazines will see in her “the ideal blend of femininity and toughness, mother and mayor, good girl and governor.” She is, in fact, one of the “archetypes” of the modern media. [NYT]
• Howard Kurtz explores the media’s treatment of Palin and concludes that while “[t]here is a touch of condescension in the way some pundits have talked about this moose-hunting woman from a distant frontier … some of the anti-press criticism has been silly.” The McCain campaign has lumped together the mainstream media with tabloids and blogs in its critiques. While the backlash against the media “has already fostered sympathy for Palin,” some worry that “the McCain team has gone too far” and is fighting a losing strategy. [WP]
• Ezra Klein finds it amusing and incoherent that the media itself is attempting to report on whether the media covered Palin unfairly. “Watching them try to examine this story is sadly hilarious, like watching a puppy unhappily considering whether it has, in fact, been a bad dog,” he writes. [American Prospect]
• Jay Carney and Michael Scherer believe the “metastasis of informal, and unreliable, information sources online” has complicated the debate over media coverage. It’s unclear whether the McCain campaign’s conflation of those outlets with the mainstream media has been real (and understandable considering “the dramatic changes in the media landscape between the 2004 and 2008 elections”) or “convenient strategy.” [Time]
• William Kristol thanks “our friends in the liberal media establishment.” Its “feeding frenzy” coverage “hyped interest in [Palin’s] speech” and “engendered not just interest in but sympathy for Palin.” [Weekly Standard]
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.