When public figures go on book tour, journalists are well advised to throw them a couple of throwaway questions about the book, and then burrow into accountability questions. That’s what happened when former Vice President Dick Cheney recently did a round of interviews upon the release of “Heart: An American Medical Odyssey” (with Jonathan Reiner M.D. and Liz Cheney). Charlie Rose, for instance, combined Cheney’s book and recent history when he asked the former veep, “Might you have seen Iraq differently if we had more oxygen to your brain?” Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly also asked Cheney just what we got out of the Iraq war.
On NBC News’s “Today” show yesterday, Matt Lauer followed a similar prescription. “I’ll get to the book in a second,” said the host, launching into a line of questioning about the Obamacare rollout, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other topics. In the adversarial high point, Lauer pressed Palin hard on whether the Tea Party has an alternative prescription to Obamacare. On CNN with Jake Tapper, Palin riffed on how Bill Clinton was right back in 2008 about the pitfalls of Barack Obama; she called Christie’s appearance “extreme”; and, under pressure from Tapper, she stood by her comparison of slavery to the national debt.
Asked why he would go deep on politics with Palin, Tapper has a strong reply: “Governor Palin was the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2008, governor of Alaska, has a following of millions and a new book out. There are lots of people I’d like to interview — to Gov. Palin’s credit she said yes, sitting down and letting me ask her about politics, her family, her faith and taking it in stride when I pressed her on some issues. On to the next interview!”
If there’s a public service in engaging the former veep candidate on serious issues, indeed, it’s to let everyone know that she continues failing to wrap her thoughts around complicated issues and continues offering rote responses to questions she’s fielded any number of times.
For the money of the Erik Wemple Blog, however, just stick with Christmas and leave the politics to Fox News. That way, there’s just less for Palin to mangle. Look, for example, at this exchange between Lauer and Palin:
MATT LAUER: The book is not a typical Christmas book. You say that Christmas is under assault from atheists and secular liberals but you also make the point that it’s become way too commercialized. So, is Christmas in danger of becoming extinct–SARAH PALIN: Oh, I’m not–MATT LAUER: –or is it too in our face?SARAH PALIN: Well, I hope you read the book because I`m not saying it’s way too commercialized. I love the commercialization of Christmas because it spreads the Christmas cheers, the most jolly holiday obviously on our calendar. It`s wonderful. But, no–MATT LAUER: But you say it takes the heart out of Christmas.SARAH PALIN: No. What I’m saying is we need to protect the heart of Christmas and not let an angry atheist armed with an attorney, a Scrooge, tell us that we can’t celebrate traditional faith in America. We have a constitutionally protected right to celebrate faith and Christmas is a part of that. And today on Veterans Day of all days, we should be cognizant of the fact that sacrifices have been made for these freedoms. We are so appreciative, thankful for America’s freedoms and we want to protect them. Not just that spirit of Christmas but overall our– our constitutional right to exercise our faith.MATT LAUER: Sacrifices made by your own family, I should point out. Governor, it’s always nice to have you here.SARAH PALIN: Thank you.