For years European journalists have felt that their American counterparts have given business and political leaders an easy ride. Since the meltdown in the financial markets, there has been a notable shift with today’s NPR interview of the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, by Steve Inskeep being a great example. Inskeep pushed Browne hard on a range of issues from the economy to Afghanistan. Interestingly Brown failed to answer almost all the questions. In short Browne came across badly. This is what the American public wants, right? Wrong it would seem. Yesterday on Marketplace (another program on NPR), show host Kai Ryssdal said they’d received many listener complaints that they were airing to much bad news. Put another way they’d been asking too many tough questions. I do understand the view that we don’t want just bad news. But I’m pleased to see the American media finding its teeth. When the economy improves the American public will appreciate it.
A few weeks ago Sarah Palin seemed like the ideal VP pick for the republicans. Her straight talk, family values and relative youth gave McCain an apparent answer to many of the weaknesses the democrats were touting. Then came the PR gaffes. In the weeks since she was unveiled she has made a string of mistakes and has essentially been withdrawn from the public eye. indeed NPR did a piece this morning questioning both her withdrawal and the few ways she was still getting in front of the media. Her interview, which was satirized on SNL, with Katie Couric was an absolute disaster. Indeed SNL added a few jokes but left many answers unchanged – it was that bad. You can’t help but question, as NPR did this morning, why her advisors have chosen to shut her off from the short interviews that would normally be taking place at this stage in the campaign and then allow the longer interviews like the one with Couric where she struggles. Right now it would appear that she has gone from Republican saviour to pariah in just a few weeks. She could be saved if she does a good VP debate but I doubt it. She is not making any solo public appearances or attending fund raisers. Presumably she is using the time to prep for that debate. If she comes out of the debate badly she will have put a large hole in the republican campaign. It goes to show that in politics, as in business, a good presenter (which Paln is) goes only so far. You have to be a good interview. This means you have to do more than learn your lines. You also have to understand the subject matter and know the facts. On the latter it would seem someone should have given her a mock press interview before she was nominated.