Monday, September 08, 2008
When Charlie Met Sarah
Remember just a couple of weeks back, when the world didn't seem so much like the landscape depicted in a Dali painting?
You know, before the incomprehensible -- the seemingly impossible -- had become reality? Before a former beauty queen, small town mayor and half-term governor who doesn't believe that humans are responsible for global warming but who does believe that the globe itself is only 6,000 years old stood a very real chance of being voted the next Vice President of the United States?
Remember back when the silliest thing in this election was John McCain's insistence on inexplicably dragging Britney Spears and Paris Hilton into it? That was when McCain figured his best chance against Barack Obama would be to accuse the Democratic candidate of being more a "celebrity" than a leader.
Although the times may have changed, and changed quickly, apparently the willingness of the right to audaciously ignore its own flat-out hypocrisy hasn't.
As you've probably already heard, the McCain campaign -- which just last week made Sarah Palin the most tantalizing of potential media "gets" by declaring her off-limits to the mainstream press -- has now decided to make its prized puppet available for a television interview. ABC's Charlie Gibson was hand-picked by McCain's people and will be granted access for an exclusive one-on-one to air this coming Thursday.
And that's the problem.
The McCain campaign is being allowed to call almost all the shots for this thing; it's decided who will conduct the interview (Gibson, who despite being an excellent journalist, has gone pretty easy on Palin on his blog), where the shoot will take place (Alaska, of course), and even though it can't choose the questions to be asked, it can set the stage and engineer a disarming environment to the point where it'll be all-but-assured that McCain's "It Girl" comes off favorably. When the campaign's communications crew is done, the Gibson-Palin interview will probably rival Disney's White Wilderness as the most manipulated account of the life of a snow-dwelling creature in history.
If all of this sounds suspiciously familiar -- from the subject being cleverly dangled like red meat over the media dogs, to the hoops the press has to jump through if it wants the access it's salivating over, to a draconian PR department pulling strings behind the scenes -- it should.
That's because the Sarah Palin one-on-one is, at its core, a celebrity interview -- with Palin herself now, quite possibly, the most talked-about, sought-after and image-controlled celebrity on the planet.
I can only hope Charlie Gibson has the good sense and the journalistic tenacity to point some of this out.
Sarah Palin needs to answer a few very tough questions, and Gibson may be the only one ever given the chance to ask them.