Charlie Rose on Sarah Palin on Charlie Rose


In this weekend's issue of The New York Times Magazine, reporter Robert Draper looked into the various tactics of the John McCain campaign, including the choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate. Draper noted that during chairman Rick Davis's research into the Alaska governor, an interview between her and Charlie Rose struck him particularly:

Reviewing the tape, it didn’t concern Davis that Palin seemed out of her depth on health-care issues or that, when asked to name her favorite candidate among the Republican field, she said, “I’m undecided.” What he liked was how she stuck to her pet issues — energy independence and ethics reform — and thereby refused to let Rose manage the interview.

When we caught up with Rose at the Vacheron Constantin event for their new Afghanistan-benefiting Quai de l’Ile watches, we asked him what he thought of his own political influence.

You did a prominent interview with Sarah Palin.
So they say. You know, there's a story in The New York Times Magazine this weekend by Richard Draper. I had no idea that it had that impact. Basically the story says that one of the people who were considering her was encouraged by her appearance. She was on with Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor of Arizona.

What do you make of that?
What do I make of the idea that my interview with her had some role in her getting the nomination? I'll believe it when I see it. They'd have to tell me that. I don't know who had what influence, but I'm surprised that they would make a decision based on an interview she did with me. Though it's happened before. Remember that French actress in The Da Vinci Code?

Audrey Tautou?
That's right! Ron Howard told me this story. They were watching her do an interview with me about another movie and they had some reservations about her, whatever it might be. And watching my interview, they got the idea that she might be better than they'd imagined. So they chose her for the role in The Da Vinci Code.

But that didn't influence world events.
I know, and that's why I doubt my interview played that kind of role.

My understanding was that she did well against you?
It wasn't that she did well. I tried to get her to talk about other things, and she only wanted to talk about energy. I think that's reading too much into it.

Do you wish you'd been harder on her?
No, that's not the point. The point was not whether I was hard enough. Basically the article said she didn't answer all the questions I asked her, is what it said. It's not hard or soft. That's a trap that journalists fall into, calling things hard or soft. They are either that they have intelligence or not.

What was your impression of her?
She was an engaging character in that interview, as was Janet Napolitano. They were together. They came together. They had been attending an event together and somebody said, "Why don't you have them both on the show together?"