early and often

McCain, Palin Attack Couric for ‘Gotcha Journalism’

Remember when we guessed that Katie Couric would do a kickass job interviewing Sarah Palin? Man, were we correct or what? (And we’re never correct. We thought Britney Spears was going to make a comeback. In 2005.) Couric did such a good job of being warm, but patiently persistent, with Palin that even though the GOP vice-presidential nominee made such bad gaffes in front of her that America collectively cringed, she agreed to come back on CBS News with her running mate John McCain. Well, she maybe didn’t do it because Katie was so warm — it may have been because McCain himself wanted to fight back against Couric on her behalf. Which is exactly what happened — when Couric asked Palin about a recent statement urging the bombing of terrorists in Pakistan (something Obama has suggested but which McCain vigorously argued against announcing in Friday night’s debate), McCain went on the attack, accusing Couric of “gotcha journalism.” Here’s the exchange:

Couric: Is that something you shouldn’t say out loud, Senator McCain?

John McCain: Of course not. But, look, I understand this day and age of “gotcha” journalism. Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn’t hear … the question very well, you don’t know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Governor Palin and I agree that you don’t announce that you’re going to attack another country.

Couric: Are you sorry you said it?

McCain: Wait a minute. Before you say, “is she sorry she said it,” this was a “gotcha” sound bite that, look …

Couric: It wasn’t a “gotcha.” She was talking to a voter.

McCain: No, she was in a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth. And … I’ll let Governor Palin speak for herself.

Palin: Well, it … in fact, you’re absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter, a constituent, hollering out a question from across an area asking, “What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan.” I said we’re gonna do what we have to do to protect the United States of America.

Couric: But you were pretty specific about what you wanted to do, cross-border …

Palin: Well, as Senator McCain is suggesting here, also, never would our administration get out there and show our cards to terrorists, in this case, to enemies and let them know what the game plan was, not when that could ultimately adversely affect a plan to keep America secure.

Couric: What did you learn from that experience?

Palin: That this is all about “gotcha” journalism. A lot of it is. But that’s okay, too.

Forget the fact that someone who is going to run the country has to be held accountable for every single thing that comes out of his or her mouth, and try and move past the idea that a style of journalism that involves follow-up questions is somehow despicable. What’s amusing to us is that John McCain couldn’t stop himself from dismissing Palin’s position before he went on the attack. “Of course it’s not!” he snapped right away when asked whether her statement was proper. See, you’re supposed to go on the attack so you don’t have to answer those tough questions. Does this mean John McCain is getting fed up with Sarah Palin, too?

McCain, Palin Answer Critics [CBS News]
Earlier: Why Katie Couric Will Do a Great Job Interviewing Sarah Palin
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McCain, Palin Attack Couric for ‘Gotcha Journalism’