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Sen. McCain Becomes Gov. Palin's Lifeline

In Tina Fey's latest hysterically funny portrayal of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live," the Republican vice presidential nominee asked for a "lifeline" when she had trouble answering a question from "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric (played by Amy Poehler).

On Monday night, Sen. John McCain, who chose Gov. Palin as his running mate, essentially acted as her lifeline in the latest installment of the Couric interviews.

A short story in today's News on page A4 doesn't do justice to the exchange in Couric's joint interview with Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.

Couric asked Palin if she was on the same page with Sen. McCain after she made a comment about attacking terrorist targets in Pakistan that was very similar to a statement from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama that Sen. McCain has criticized.

After Palin's answer didn't include a direct response to Couric's question, the anchor asked Sen. McCain "is that something you shouldn't say out loud?"

"Of course not," said Sen. McCain. "I understand this day and age '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. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country."

When Couric asked Palin if she was sorry she said it, Sen. McCain broke in to repeat his claim that it was 'gotcha' sound bite and the governor never had to answer the question.

"It wasn't a 'gotcha,'" explained Couric,. "She was talking to a voter."

"No," said Sen. McCain, "she was in a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth. And ... I'll let Gov. Palin speak for herself."

Apparently, he realized by then he was defending his running mate a little too much.

Later, Couric asked Palin what she learned from the experience in the pizza place.

"That this is all about 'gotcha,' journalism," she replied. "A lot of it is. But that's OK, too."

I suppose that means that anytime a voter asks a question in a public place that he or she instantly becomes a journalist. No need to go to college, get a degree, work for a publication and be trained in the field.

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin were just playing the Republican game of getting off the defensive by going on the offensive against the media. This time, the ploy seemed transparently silly.

-- Alan Pergament

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