Was Charlie Gibson Unfair to Palin?

Posted by Katherine | September 18, 2008 – 5:20 pm
Gibson interviewing Palin
Before his glasses went on [matthewnstoller / Flickr]

Sarah Palin did her first big network interview last week with ABC’s Charlie Gibson. Here’s one blogger’s take on the way Gibson conducted the interview.

John Orlando is an evangelical Christian and a student at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Before returning to school, he served in the Air Force for 21 years. He identifies himself as an Independent conservative who’d consider voting for a Democrat (though he never has). This year he supports McCain/Palin. John grades Palin in some detail and not terribly positively on her interview performance (a “C” overall); he doesn’t give Gibson full marks, either:

First, when Gibson had the opportunity to interview Sen. Obama on Jun 4 of this year […], I think its safe to say that the questions asked came nowhere close to the depth and complexity of the questions that were put to Gov. Palin, and I would also add that there was a clear difference in tone. When Gibson interviewed Gov. Palin, he came off, at least to me anyway, as condescending and arrogant. He would ask a question and look down his glasses at Palin with this stern look on his face, as if to say, “look, you’re one of those anti-intellectual, backwoods, Christian whackos—you’re one of those nuts that Obama mentioned who clings to their guns and God, and quite simply, I can’t stand you or your kind.” (by the way, those glasses were curiously missing in his interview with Obama, at least in the clip I saw).

Maybe this is an unfair assessment, but the contrast in Gibson’s body language and demeanor when he interviewed Sen. Obama, and when he interviewed Gov. Palin, is striking. […]

Secondly, I think that Gibson’s questions were fair for the most part—I just wish that he would have asked similar questions of Obama. While fair, there also seemed though to be a kind of “gotcha” element, at least on the question regarding the “Bush Doctrine.” […] On a couple of occasions Gibson could have really cornered her, but backed off. I am all for the interviewer boxing a person in and not letting them off the hook when their response falls short, or worse, isn’t quite coherent.

The Obama interview that John mentions is here.

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