Monday, October 6, 2008

MSNBC-TV: Palin Steals the Spotlight... Again

By Brooks Jarosz

Since last Thursday's Vice Presidential Debate, Sarah Palin has made headlines. I was amazed to find out 55 million people tuned in to catch the nationally broadcast debate. Of course the question of who won and who lost is still being analyzed. Saturday Night Live had no trouble reinventing Thursday night through a skit with Tina Fey and Queen Latifah. It was discussed throughout the weekend, even on Meet the Press Sunday.

Which Debate Were YOU Watching?
I was shocked with the response from the debate. I know Sarah Palin was cramming and preparing for the big night just days before and I must say, I was surprised at how she was so well coached. Some of the reoccurring phrases often used included "ramp it up", "tap into that" and "maverick". On the other hand, Joe Biden liked to list things, "number one, number two..." or "deregulation". Regardless of what was said, I thought the questions asked by PBS's Gwen Ifill of "Washington Week" were rather broad and left an easy exit for either candidate.

Ifill and other journalists spoke of the debate saying that they each came with goals and agendas. As they noted, it is interesting to notice that Biden did not take Palin on, but focused on McCain instead. Some could read that as a statement from Biden arguing Palin isn't ready to be vice president. David Gregory said she was ignoring substance and focusing on appeals. Numerous times she avoided questions and even admitted that she wouldn't always answer the questions directly asked. So, was it a debate at all? That question could be debated for hours.

I watched some local newscasts where stations interviewed people to get reactions on the debate. I was shocked to hear people praising Palin and talking about how well she did. I felt most of her responses focussed on her and what she has done, rather than what she will do as V.P. in the future.

Palin did, however, mention she would like to expand the vice presidential role. Rachel Maddow in her "Talk Me Down" segment thought it was crazy for her to suggest expanding powers of the vice president beyond what Dick Cheney has already done. Jonathan Turley from George Washington University agreed with Maddow to a degree saying the V.P.'s job is in the constitution as breaking the ties in the Senate and any other flexability is simply wrong. Maddow cited expanding the powers was only Cheney's ploy to avoid oversight. Hmmm...why would that be? Some say the Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction may have something to do with be the judge!

McCain's Assessment through MSNBC
Keith Olbermann asked Howard Fineman of Newsweek what he thought of the debate and showed a couple of McCain's remarks after the debate. McCain asked a crowd of supporters what they thought and was extremely complementary of her. Fineman said McCain was speaking to the Republican faithful and had to give them "up" news in order to keep them engaged. The McCain campaign refused to let Palin speak in television interviews since the debate. Fineman said the campaign is only keeping Palin as a "useful prop". Either way, there are mixed views on how each candidate did. Of course, I think more pointed questions would have helped distiguish one candidate from the other. We'll see if Tom Brokaw can do that this Tuesday in the second presidential debate at Belmont University in Tennessee.

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