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Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told an interviewer last week that she thinks Caroline Kennedy is getting softer press treatment in her pursuit of a New York U.S. Senate seat than Palin did as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee because of Kennedy's social class. But we think Palin's criticism misses the mark on several points.
First, Kennedy's uncle, Edward Kennedy, and several of her cousins, including Joseph P. Kennedy III and William Kennedy Smith, have received plenty of scathing criticism from the media throughout their careers despite being in the same social class as she is.
Second, Kennedy is seeking a senate seat, which is an important position but is not one that would put her just a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Third, several members of the media have noted Kennedy's lack of experience in elective office though several U.S. senators — including Hillary Rodham Clinton, the one Kennedy seeks to replace — had no such experience before joining the Senate.
Under New York law, it will be up to Gov. David Paterson to decide whether Kennedy has enough experience to be appointed to the Senate seat. And if he does appoint her, in November 2010 it will be up to New York voters to decide whether she has done an adequate enough job to retain that seat.
Palin also complained about the way her pre-election interviews with CBS Evening News anchorwoman Katie Couric were handled, criticizing the way CBS "spliced it together." She told Andy Barr of Yahoo News, "So many of the topics brought up were not portrayed as accurately as they could have, should have, been."
Network television news is so driven by ratings that there sometimes seems to be a tendency for interviewers to strive for "gotcha" questions. And long interviews are rarely shown in their entirety because of time constraints.
But we believe most journalists do accurately try to portray an interviewee's thoughts on a subject. And the way CBS spliced the interviews together was not responsible for Palin's inability to express her thoughts in articulate sentences.
Palin also said about her interviews with Couric, "I knew it didn't go well the first day." That was before any parts of the interviews were broadcast and thus before she saw how CBS edited them. So perhaps instead of trying to blame others for the way she is portrayed in the media, she should concentrate more on improving her own communication skills.
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