Friday, September 12, 2008

Charlie Gibson's Bias During Sarah Palin Interview

A lot, perhaps too much, has been written about the first part of Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson. But this one point seems important enough to add one more post to the pile.

One of the biggest weak spots of the interview for Palin was when Gibson asked her what her stance was on the Bush Doctrine and she had to ask for clarification. The NY Times makes her appear as weak as possible with this description:
At times visibly nervous . . . Ms. Palin most visibly stumbled when she was asked by Mr. Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. Ms. Palin did not seem to know what he was talking about. Mr. Gibson, sounding like an impatient teacher, informed her that it meant the right of 'anticipatory self-defense.'
To which Charles Krauthammer at The Washington Post says:
Informed her? Rubbish.

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.
Should we trust his analysis of the situation. As it turns out, we should. Krauthammer continues:
He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."


I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term.
Emphasis mind. So do you trust Charlie Gibson or the reporter who coined the term? Krauthammer then goes on to describe the history of the term and the four different meanings it has carried. The definition Gibson picked is the third of the definitions.

Why that one? I think that is painfully obvious. He picked "anticipatory self-defense" aka "preemptive invasion of other countries" because it is view Obama disagrees with strongly and probably can find a sizable percentage of Americans that are with him on this point. The fourth definition of "a fundamental mission of the U.S. is to spread democracy throughout the world" is far less interesting. When democracy seem to come to Lebanon after 9/11 and the crushing of the Taliban, people cheered.

It's hard to say if Gibson was just trying too hard not to appear soft to the world or was deliberately deceptive in an attempt to make Palin look bad. What is clear is that Gibson was wrong--from the mouth of the man that coined the phrase to begin with.

If it matters at this point, the second part of the interview is reported to have been much better. Palin seemed much more relaxed and I've found no evidence of any major or even minor gaffes. Gibson also is supposedly less adversarial and more objective. Camera angles are more flattering and the editing is less severe.

Given the media circus and general derangement of the left that Sarah Palin seems to be capable of causing, one can only imagine what part three of the interview will bring.

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