Much-Awaited Palin Interview Airs On ABC Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's first television interview as the Republican vice presidential candidate aired Thursday night on ABC.
NPR logo

Much-Awaited Palin Interview Airs On ABC

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/94525290/94525863" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Much-Awaited Palin Interview Airs On ABC

Much-Awaited Palin Interview Airs On ABC

Much-Awaited Palin Interview Airs On ABC

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/94525290/94525863" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

This photo provided by ABC News shows Charles Gibson talking to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 11 in Fairbanks, Alaska. ABC will air the first segment of its exclusive interview with Palin on Sept. 11. Donna Svennevik/AP/ABC News hide caption

toggle caption
Donna Svennevik/AP/ABC News

This photo provided by ABC News shows Charles Gibson talking to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 11 in Fairbanks, Alaska. ABC will air the first segment of its exclusive interview with Palin on Sept. 11.

Donna Svennevik/AP/ABC News

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The media have clamored to hear from Sarah Palin in interview form. Now, the wait is up. This evening, ABC News airs the first in a series of conversations with the Republican vice presidential nominee.

NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us. And David, ABC has started releasing excerpts of these interviews, Charlie Gibson interviewing Sarah Palin in Alaska. What have we learned?

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: That's right. We're just starting to see some excerpts. It appears as though the first interview with Governor Palin is focused on national security issues. She seems to take a hard line on Russia, saying that she's willing to go to war if necessary, defend American interest in values, particularly with issues in that part of the world, and calling for the admission of Georgia and a couple other countries to NATO.

BLOCK: The - it's an interesting form out here, Charlie Gibson has access to Sarah Palin over three chunks of time, today and tomorrow. Explain why they're doing it this way.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, it appears to be a full network rollout. Both sides have something to win here. Mr. Gibson is accompanying Governor Palin as she attends the National Guard unit deployment ceremony for one of her sons. He'll see her at home in setting a thing that'll be good for her to humanize her. It also allows him to do three interviews over two days, and the network is showing it over a bunch of their platforms, on five different ABC News programs tonight, "World News," later tonight, "Nightline," "Good Morning America," again, "World News Tonight" tomorrow, as well as the primetime news magazine, "20/20." It'll be all over their Web site. Their gotten an exclusive and they're looking to milk it for all its worth.

BLOCK: What do you think of either the pitfalls and the advantages would be of having interview staggered in this way, not one big session but three smaller sessions over two days?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think that the McCain campaign has been very protective of Governor Palin. There was concern whether she was ready for primetime real unknown. And in this way, perhaps, showing herself in her own setting, allowing her to talk over time, perhaps establish a conversational rapport with a serious news anchor like Gibson will allow her to present herself as a thoughtful and credible figure worthy of being on this level.

BLOCK: ABC had said there were no ground rules, nothing was off base. But I was looking at a blog that Charlie Gibson kept during the Republican convention before - after he had interviewed John McCain, and he said that he had fretted about that interview for hours, decided not to ask any questions about Sarah Palin's family.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, you're seeing a lot of debate within the news media about what's fair grounds and what's not. You know, Howard Weaver is the senior executive in the McClatchy newspaper chain, which also owns the Anchorage Daily News. He said he'd fire reporters who went too far a field and asking Governor Palin about the behavior of her teenage children, for example. There's a real divide about what's necessary and what's not. You see a lot of professionals and working women who are, at once, intrigued by Palin but who wanted to very much know about that very issue.

BLOCK: At the same time, you had Rick Davis of the McCain campaign demanding deference and respect for Sarah Palin from journalists. How was this all negotiated with ABC?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, apparently, an aide to McCain decided that - called up Jon Banner, the executive producer for ABC News and said, we'd like you to be the ones. Remember, all the networks wanted this.

I think it's interesting why the interview went to ABC. If you think about the dynamic here, the McCain camp's been at war with NBC News in large part because of cable sibling, MSNBC, which features outspoken liberal talk show host Keith Olbermann, but also, for some of the reports filed by some of the correspondents that they claim was too close to Obama.