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The McCain Campaign STILL Owes Palin An Apology

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

As the video popped-up this week of far-left, ultra wealthy, and privileged CBS “News” anchor Katie Couric going after then Governor Sarah Palin while mocking the names of her children, it reminded me all over again how much Palin is owed an apology from the “leadership” of the McCain campaign.

This anti-Palin “let them eat cake” video rant by Couric (filmed the day McCain announced the traditional values Palin as his running mate) serves as further proof that most in the mainstream media are not only liberal and unethical, but dangerously out of touch with everyday Americans and everyday life.

During the campaign, Sarah Palin was unfairly criticized by all on the left and many on the right for the interviews she did with first ABC’s Charlie Gibson and then Couric. Both taking place in September of 2008.

Why the McCain campaign let proven liberal propagandists like Gibson and Couric “interview” Palin is still beyond me. That they did not prepare Governor Palin properly or set the needed ground rules with ABC and CBS is still inexcusable.

Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, if you are the press secretary or director of communications for a presidential or vice-presidential candidate, you are always looking to establish certain ground rules with the press. Job one for the press secretary is to make sure your candidate is not ambushed or made to look bad. Clearly Palin was both ambushed and sabotaged by Gibson and Couric.

People may forget now, but back in September of 2008, if ever there was an interview for which a campaign could demand ground rules, it was the Gibson-Palin/Couric-Palin interviews. Every network and every network anchor was desperate to question the then Governor of Alaska. Desperate.

While managing editors and network news heads will tell you they never agree to interview ground rules from candidates, politicians, or celebrities, in the five years I worked for Bob Dole, I certainly insisted on and got them. Sometimes the ground rules were as simple as the number of question to be asked, to the more complicated assignment of picking the person from the network who would actually ask the questions.

Usually, because of long-standing relationships or friendships with the network political team, things could be worked out to the benefit of all. Sometimes not. Once, after an agreed upon ground rule was broken and I brought a live interview to a sudden halt, a well-known network political reporter started to scream at me in a room full of tourists and children. This particular reporter (also liberal and wealthy…aren’t they all) felt ground rules should only be agreed upon to get the interview and then broken to push her liberal agenda. I disagreed with her unprofessional duplicity and ended the interview. Hours later, her boss apologized to me for her hysterical reaction.

Knowing that mindset and that track record, I am still shocked that at least one ground rule was not demanded by the McCain campaign with regard to the Gibson and Couric hit jobs on Palin.

A ground rule which is very simple and should never be broken. That being that if you are a Republican national candidate, ONLY do live interviews. As they did not request or get the live interviews, the McCain campaign gurus should have at least insisted that edited teasers not be released prior to or following the interview. Of course, that did not happen either and Gibson and ABC and Couric and CBS released selected and edited snippets with the express purpose of putting Governor Palin in the worst possible light with the American people.

Decades of evidence prove that the major networks have not always been the fairest of venues for Republicans. With a live interview, the candidate, just as much as the anchor or reporter, controls the outcome. No words taken out of context, and no anchors maliciously editing the comments of the GOP candidate after the fact.

All too often, campaigns and campaign communicators forget that human nature plays a large role in what they do. Network anchors and reporters are human and usually have massive egos. As such, they usually don’t like to be challenged or have their authoritative voice questioned. At times, the human emotions of an anchor can be turned to a candidate’s advantage.

For example, in January of 1988, when then Vice President George H. W. Bush got into a protracted argument over Iran-Contra with liberal CBS News anchor Dan Rather during a live interview. CBS had wanted to do a taped segment, but Mr. Bush and his advisers were concerned about how it would be edited. They pushed for the live interview and struck campaign gold with Mr. Rather’s petulant behavior and Mr. Bush’s feisty pushback.

That Vice President Bush was able to defend himself on live television against a biased news anchor who, years later, would try to take down his son with forged documents, proved a turning point in his campaign against Michael Dukakis. Twenty years later, Sarah Palin (and ultimately our nation) was made to pay a price because the McCain campaign communications “experts” were not able to secure live interviews with Gibson and Couric.

Couric’s leaked video from 2008 of her mocking the names of Palin’s children (I’m sure Couric believes the names, looks or weight of her children are out of bounds) simply reaffirms what we already knew about her. More importantly, it underscores the incompetence of the McCain campaign and why its leadership still owes Palin a sincere apology.

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