Sunday, January 18, 2009

But How Do You Know What You Know Sarah?

It is an article of faith among Sarah Palin's supporters that CBS edited her interview with Katie Couric in order to make Palin look bad. As an article of faith, it is not surprising that they have no evidence to support this for the simple reason that Palin herself has never watched the interviews. As she told Ziegler:
I never saw the interview after Katie edited it, they spliced it together,
did what ever they did and then aired it. Never saw how it came
across. But my understanding is so many other topics that were brought up
certainly weren’t portrayed as accurately as they could have been should have
been after that interview.
The question naturally arises: how does Sarah know they weren't portrayed accurately? She is the only one who could tell us whether CBS edited her answers unfairly, but she can't because she never watched it. She simply assumes they did because she did not like the way people reacted to the interview. It apparently never occurs to her that it was her inability to articulate her beliefs in coherent sentences that was her down fall and she has no interest in finding out. It reminds me of the time that Charles Barkley claimed that he was misquoted in his autobiography.

It is sometimes said of Sarah by her admirers: "She knows what she believes." For some reason, this is considered a big accomplishment. However, when it comes to why Sarah believes what she believes or whether Sarah knows any facts that support her beliefs, her admirers are completely indifferent. Indeed, they are outraged that Katie Couric had the nerve to ask Sarah what she read to stay informed, as Sandy Rios and John Ziegler* discussed last week:
Rios: She recognized that Katie was doing all these ‘gotchas’ so that when
she asked her what she reads, its such an insulting question, that she knew that
she was being set up, so that rather than answering, she just didn’t cooperate
with the game, of course what they aired over and over again was that she didn’t
answer the question, which she did answer for you, that point has to be made.
Ziegler: Exactly and I would just suggest that if Barack Obama was ever
asked that question, which he would not be asked because it would be seen as
racist, because is would be seen as implying he doesn’t read, what he doesn’t
read because he’s a black man. That’s how it would be perceived and he would be
applauded for not giving that kind of question the respect that it didn’t

Rios: Yeah. Well it’s different rules.

There are indeed different rules Sandy, but it is people like you and Ziegler who have them. The rest of us evaluated all the candidates in terms of how well they understood what was really happening in the world. Obama wouldn't have considered it insulting to be ask how he stays informed because he understands how vitally important to know what's going on. It was only the Palin supporters who did not care how or why their candidate reached the conclusions she did.

So why was Palin asked about what she read while Obama was not? Personally, I think it might have had something to do with the breadth of knowledge that Obama demonstrated in speeches, debates, and interviews. When someone shows themselves to be consistently capable of discussing events in remote corners of the world, it is obvious that the person is working hard to stay informed. On the other hand, if a person answers a question about foreign policy by telling you that they live in a state that's close to Russia, it makes you wonder whether that person even knows how to read.

*Ziegler also excused Palin’s inability to name any newspapers on the grounds that Couric was out to get her on the abortions questions. “I think that’s why we had the alleged fiasco over ‘the what do you read’ question.” According to Couric, she asked about the newspapers before she asked about abortions. I guess that's just one of those silly little "fact" things that can't be allowed to get in the way of a good story.


  1. "they have no evidence to support this"
    IIRC, the unedited interview got out -- though that might have been the one with Gibson.

  2. That was the Gibson transcript. I personally did not think that those edits did any disservice to Palin's answers. By snipping out portions where she rambled and repeated herself, I thought ABC made her look more focused and direct.