Sarah Palin delivered a charismatic, exciting and professionally polished speech at the Republican National Convention. Out on the campaign trail she draws tens of thousands and delivers invigorating, fresh speeches with plenty of time away from the teleprompter to respond and ‘go live.’ In the live debate she held her own. She was articulate, polished, poised and confident. In her recorded television interview with Sean Hannity she came across just fine.
Yet in her recorded television interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson on CBS and ABC she came across as ill informed, inarticulate and unprepared. How could such a discrepancy exist? Well, there are several optional answers:
1. It could be that TV interviews are just not her best medium. Other politicians have their weak points too. Obama’s not real good in the town hall setting. McCain doesn’t like set speeches as much as the town hall informal cut and thrust. So maybe Palin just doesn’t do TV interviews very well. However, the good performance with Sean Hannity would give the lie to that theory.
2. It’s true that Sean Hannity was more of a friendly interviewer. Maybe Palin just got nervous about Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric and flubbed.
3. Then there is another theory. Could it possibly be that both Gibson and Couric set out to trap Palin into whatever gaffe they could possibly steer her into? In addition to this, I don’t think lay people are quite aware of the power of the television or film editor.
I’ve done some television and film production work myself. I am familiar with the editing wizardry available today. No longer does a cut necessarily show. With digital editing they can take a facial expression that seems to look dumbstruck or vapid and extend it by a couple of split seconds making the ‘dumb’ moment last much longer. They can extend a stutter, cut up a phrase or a sentence to make the person seem inarticulate and stumbling. Most of all, if they want to make a person look dumb, they simply cut out anything smart they might say, leaving only the rough stuff.
Then when the interviewee sees the final cut they cry out, “But that’s dumb! I didn’t say that! They took that out of context! They didn’t include what I really said!”
Maybe that’s exactly why the press have been denied taped interviews, and why Palin said at the end of the debate, “I’m glad to have the chance to talk directly to the American people and not have all my words filtered by the media.”
It was clear from the debate that Biden has the experience and gravitas, and Palin the enthusiasm and charisma of the outsider. He seemed to master the details better than her, but she seemed to master the medium, and seemed better at the big picture stuff. They both avoided answering the question and sometimes shifted to their own ground, but that’s what they’re trained to do.