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13. Because a Wasilla Phenom Is No Match for a Big-City Anchor

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Whatever you thought of Katie Couric until now, you must, if you are a self-respecting American citizen, take this moment to praise her for helping to expose the awesome vacuity of Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Charles Gibson may have landed the first interview with her, but it was Couric who got her rambling, Couric who got her faking, and Couric who got her stammering so badly that the governor replied at one point that she’d have to “try to find you some [examples] and I’ll bring ’em to ya.” Couric did all of this with perfect calm and grace. Rick Davis, John McCain’s  campaign manager, tried to explain Palin’s poor performance by claiming “she was under the impression the Couric thing was going to be easier than it was.” In admitting as much, he revealed what George W. Bush might have called the soft bigotry of low expectations of the McCain campaign, both of their vice-presidential nominee and her prospective interviewer. They should have known better. Couric, as the first solo female anchor of the evening news, wasn’t about to ask Palin, the second female vice-presidential candidate, where she buys her shoes (though the answer to that question, we’d later learn, was pretty devastating, too). It’s no secret that the CBS transition has been difficult for Katie Couric. But her interview with Palin reminded us that there’s a certain kind of big-personality interview at which she truly excels. Both she and Palin are pathbreakers, and both have had to withstand the slings and arrows of the mainstream media. The difference is that there was a limit to how far the world would allow Palin to go. She’s back in Alaska now, where she can once again see Russia from her window. But Couric’s office still has the better view.


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