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September 24, 2008 - 7:35am

Sarah Palin going to school, avoiding questions

posted by Howard B. Owens in john mccain, nation and world, Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin is on the fast track in foreign policy education. Tuesday, she meet with heads of state at the U.N. and was briefed by non-other than Henry Kissenger.

Yet, she continues to duck reporters.

The candidate's staff carefully choreographed her debut onto the international stage, starting each meeting with a brief photo opportunity and allowing no questions. Unscripted moments were kept to a minimum.

At first, the campaign wanted to keep reporters out altogether. But after the five major television networks threatened to boycott coverage of the Palin meetings, a pool that included a print journalist eventually was allowed in.

Palin's press shyness is odd, because John McCain's entire career has been built on candor and openness with the press.  He is popular with reporters because he's never been afraid to hang out at the back of the plane, or the back of the bus and tell war stories and answer questions.  He's been known as one of the most accessible senators.

Yet, Palin hides. Why?  Or, what is it that John McCain has to hide?

There's only one reason you don't answer questions: You're afraid.

Los Angeles Times blogger Elizabeth Snead calls it "the cone of silence" around Palin.

McCain's camp has put a force field around the Alaska governor in recent weeks, and some in the media speculate that this is to keep her from dealing with unscripted questions from voters and reporters.

And it was even worse during these diplomacy sessions. Reporters were actually banned from the start of the meetings to stop them from asking questions of Palin.

Before Palin's first meeting with Karzai, campaign aides told the pool reporters that followed her they could not go into meetings but that photographers and a video camera crew would be let in for pictures.

President Bush and members of Congress routinely allow reporters to attend photo ops, and the reporters often ask questions at the beginning of private meetings before they're ushered out.

Not this time. Two or more news organizations, including the Associated Press, objected to their reporters' exclusion and were told that the decision was not subject to discussion. When aides backed down, campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said the reporter ban was a "miscommunication."

Finally, one reporter was let in.

Is this any way to run a campaign in a democracy?

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