A little over two years ago, one of Sarah Palin's first interviews after being tapped as John McCain's running mate was a multipart chat with CBS's Katie Couric. And it was a disaster. To this day, Palin still has a chip on her shoulder about one question she was asked in particular: What does she read?
Since then, Palin has been asked the question repeatedly, and has come up with something approaching a stock answer. In a recent profile, she told The New York Times Magazine's Robert Draper:
"I’ve been reading since I was a little girl .... I continue to read all that I can get my hands on — and reading biographies of, yes, Thatcher for instance, and of course Reagan and the John Adams letters, and I’m just thinking of a couple that are on my bedside, I go back to C.S. Lewis for inspiration, there’s such a variety, because books have always been important in my life .... I’m reading [the conservative radio host] Mark Levin’s book; I’ll get ahold of Glenn Beck’s new book."
And in her "10 Most Fascinating People of 2010" interview with Barbara Walters set to air tonight, Palin provides a somewhat similar answer.
"I read anything and everything that I can get my hands on as I have since I was a little girl .... I'm reading the best book right now -- Dean Karnazes's book about being an ultra-marathoner. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I want some divine inspiration...I read Newsmax and The Wall Street Journal. I read all of our local papers of course in Alaska because that's where my heart is."
Palin has said that she was offended by Couric's question and is still irked by the media's portrayal of her.
"Because of that one episode, that one episode, that would turn an issue into what it has become over the last two years. I think that's ridiculous," Palin told Walters. "That's one of those things, where that issue that I don't read, or that I'm not informed, it's one of those questions where I like to turn that around and ask the reporters, 'Why would it be that there is that perception that I don't read?'"
Why is there that perception? It originally arose from her inability to name a single example of a newspaper or magazine that she reads, despite being asked by Couric three times.
It wasn't an unfair question Palin was a complete mystery to most of America, and knowing where she goes for news would have been, as Couric said at the time, an interesting insight into her worldview. Palin's nonanswer she reads "all of 'em, any of 'em that have been in front of me over all these years" was an insight all its own. That Palin immediately became so offended by such an innocuous question was another her reaction revealed more about her own sensitivity to being seen as an unenlightened Alaskan frontierswoman, and her preoccupation with the condescension of "elites," than any bias of Couric's. But convincing herself that it was all Couric's fault is probably a good coping mechanism.