The CBS Palin interview: B- for Palin, B+ for Couric

posted at 9:25 am on September 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Sarah Palin faced off with Katie Couric in her CBS interview, and CBS has the complete video of it now on their website, along with partial transcripts. All Palin really needed to do was to survive this without any major gaffes, and she manages to do that. Couric needed to show that she could do a tough interview with Palin without getting condescending, or without going soft. Both succeed, but Couric probably achieved more in this exchange.

I like Sarah Palin and consider her a good choice for John McCain, but she comes across as nervous and somewhat flustered here — more so than with Charlie Gibson at ABC. That’s a bit ironic, as Couric handles the interview more objectively and with less hostility than Gibson did in his clips. Couric asks tough questions and stays focused on the question of McCain’s enthusiasm for regulation, which Palin boots to an extent:

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you’ve said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I’m just going to ask you one more time – not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

The better answer here is that regulation isn’t always the answer, and in fact it was bad regulation — the Community Reinvestment Act and its associated regulatory actions — that helped create the financial mess. Couric got Palin to argue on bad ground, and Palin didn’t think quickly enough to challenge Couric’s assumptions.

That was the worst of the exchanges, though, and for the most part Palin made good points. She refused to get stampeded into a populist call for a moratorium on foreclosures, which would be a disaster for the credit markets at the moment. Palin talked repeatedly about “predatory lenders”, though, showing sympathy for homeowners who got in over their heads. For those of us who have poked fun at Barack Obama’s tendency to stammer through answers, Palin provides a modicum of the same in this interview, more so than with ABC, and her voice seems pitched higher — clearly signs of nervousness.

However, thanks to the constant drumbeat of her detractors, expectations were fairly low for Palin, and she exceeded them. She also avoided any idiotic statements — for instance, putting FDR in the White House and on TV in 1929, which her opponent managed to do with the same interviewer earlier this week. I’d give her a B-, but with a need for improvement, especially in the upcoming debate.

Couric did a good job in this interview. She kept to issues, pressed for deeper answers, but did so fairly without any kind of gotcha questions. Media interviews are supposed to probe, and Couric succeeded in doing that without sounding superior or nasty. Credit goes where credit’s due, and I’d give Couric at least a B+ for eschewing both attack and morning-show mentalities.

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All that said, I agree with ED, Sarah did okay. Everyone who keeps wringing their hands if she isn’t perfect makes me lsugh. She certainly did a better job than Biden and even Obama(Remember the Couric interview about the Surge?), so I think we need to quit looking for every word and supposed slip up. Trust me, the Left is doing that for us. Why can’t we just accept what she does and praise her for the good things? You know, sometimes we are our own wort enemies.
Deanna on September 25, 2008 at 10:30 AM


It’s really getting ridiculous around here, and I sometimes think HotAir is more anti-Palin than the Huffington Post.

Look, we know she’s not perfect – nobody is. And yes, pat yourselves on the back for showing the world you can be ojbective and criticize your candidate, unlike the Obama supporters. I guess you deserve a medal for that.

But there is a time for criticism and a time for support, and right now, in the middle of a very tight race, it’s time for the latter. Some of you guys, in your rush to tell the world “Look at me – I’m objective – I can criticize Palin!!” are holding her to a higher standard than Obama, Biden or McCain. She’s undoubtedly the most scrutinized VP candidate in my lifetime, if not ever, she’s going up against a hostile media that does nothing to try to conceal it and whatever it can to smear her, trip her up, and make her look bad in any way possible. And by trying to “out-objective” each other, some of you are becoming ridiculous self-parodies.

Again, she’s not perfect, but she’s the probably the most scrutinized VP candidate ever, she’s going against and unabashedly hostile media that will use everything they can to stop her, and she has to carry McCain’s water. If nothing else, you should at least factor that into your critiques.

thirteen28 on September 25, 2008 at 11:25 AM

I think Gov Palin’s biggest problem is worrying too much about saying something that runs counter to positions or policies that McCain has already put forth. In some interviews she seems very relaxed and at ease and then at times she seems to be all balled up inside as if thinking too hard about her answers. I don’t think it is pressure from the interviewer or the McCain handlers but rather her own internal struggle.
I know the Republican candidate always has to be 10 times more conscience of what they say but she needs to just relax and let it rip. Qualify statements by saying this is her approach or opinion and may not reflect the opinion of the management and let it go.
Besides no matter what they will find enough in cobble together quotes anyway to make hay out of.
Relax and have some fun.

Just A Grunt on September 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Oh well, no one watches Couric. (At least I don’t)

Seriously, maybe she was more nervous due to the rudeness she endured from Gibson and was expecting the same from Couric. Either way, she’s still awesome. We still love her.

wytammic on September 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM

McCain and his RINO crew have over-handled her.

Valiant on September 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I thought the interview needed less questions and more kissing.

420sniper on September 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Lets get on with the debates and let Palin speak her mind which will be more appealing rather than orchestrated answers to appease McCain’s policies.

defendfaithandfamily on September 25, 2008 at 11:59 AM

I’m sure Ed is a nice and knowledgeable guy, but I don’t know why his opinion should be worth more than a gob of spit.

SKYFOX on September 25, 2008 at 12:07 PM

the more the Campaign tries to protect her from the media, the more uptight Palin seems to be. they should let her do some questions with the press each day, that will ease things for her considerably. She has good instincts and skills, and her opponent, Biden, is a total idiot. she will always look good by comparison.

james23 on September 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Katie needs to hound the question…”Can you give me examples of what the One has done…other than agitate the community?”

“Uh, uh, hope and change….uh, uh,…..”

HornetSting on September 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

At least she was ‘present’.

Fuquay Steve on September 25, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Well, this link from the main page:

is Palin speaking a little louder. I don’t see much hesitation here except on the Voting for Young question. In that case, I think she was proper in ignoring that one.


CapedConservative on September 25, 2008 at 12:43 PM

I’m sure Ed is a nice and knowledgeable guy, but I don’t know why his opinion should be worth more than a gob of spit.

SKYFOX on September 25, 2008 at 12:07 PM

While I tend to disagree with Ed more than agree (his support of homosexual marriage, for instance, which I heavily disagree with), you have to have some type of commentary on a web site like this, in order to generate the discussions that we all thrive on and keep us coming back. That said, I really wish Michelle had picked someone else to replace Bryan.

tballard on September 25, 2008 at 12:47 PM

So, Ed’s job is to just stir the pot?

SKYFOX on September 25, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Don’t let them shake your confidence Sarah. Focus on Obama’s lack of experience whenever the Faux News starts attacking you for what they say is yours. Switch to his lack of experience. Compare your record of running a Government to his. Comparing the two of you, I’d take you as President over Obama any day. See Romans 8:31.

apacalyps on September 25, 2008 at 3:12 PM

It’s the same gotcha stuff a’la Charlie Gibson. And I don’t have a problem with that, provided the MSM asks candidates from BOTH PARTIES the same sort of questions, but because it’s the MSM, that’ll never happen.
Hannity asked her challenging questions and she came off very well. All this other stuff it just intended to trip her up.

RMCS_USN on September 25, 2008 at 3:19 PM