On Monday, Sarah Palin began her media tour for her latest book with an interview in which she defiantly declared that she would never do another interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric and castigated her for being an example of why journalism is in crisis.
I am pretty confident that no one (other than of course Palin and Couric themselves) is more “qualified” to opine on this topic than me. After all, my newly rereleased documentary, “Media Malpractice … How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted,” deals with the infamous Couric interview in more depth than any other forum and my interview with Palin for the film reveals more truth about the episode than any other done on the topic. Plus, I was the guy who got “arrested” (though not charged) at last year’s USC journalism awards where Couric was laughably rewarded specifically for the “impact” of her Palin interview.
While I have already written extensively on this topic, there is still much to add to the subject in light of Palin’s most recent comments.
It is remarkable to me how incredibly difficult it is to alter the narrative of an event once a seed (no matter how lacking in substance) has been allowed to fully germinate in a person’s consciousness. There is no better example of this phenomenon than the perception (even among conservatives) of the Couric/Palin interview.
While there are many episodes from the Couric interview that have been grossly misunderstood (which I deal with at length in the film), as I have traveled all over the country screening and promoting my film, one of the most consistent questions I get is about Palin allegedly being unable to answer the seemingly simple question of, “what do you read?” It has always baffled me why this incident has gained so much traction and dictated so much of how the public perceives Palin (exponentially more than, for instance, her only legitimate screw-up in the series of interviews, which was not being either willing or able to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees).
This was a situation in which context was everything and, for the most part, the media has been unwilling to provide it and the American people (including far too many conservatives) have been unable to grasp it.
Frighteningly few people seem to realize that Palin did several interviews with Couric and by this point (rightfully so as it turns out) she was totally convinced that Couric had it out for her, even to the point of requesting that the campaign pull the plug on the sessions. So, here Palin is, immediately after coming off the stage at a campaign event, being asked in an impromptu “walk and talk” with Couric asking a seemingly simple question about the sources Palin uses to gets her news. Palin tries to dodge the question by saying, quite reasonably, “all of them,” but Couric quickly interrupts (a sure sign that the question was hardly innocent) and asks Palin for specifics. Palin decides not to provide them and then, rightly, scolds Couric for seemingly presuming that in Alaska they don’t have access to the New York Times.