A new, easier media strategy

A NEW, EASIER MEDIA STRATEGY…. The Charlie Gibson interview didn’t go well. The interviews with Katie Couric became legendary — and not in a good way.

So, what will the McCain campaign do to get Sarah Palin’s message out? There’s a new plan.

Sarah Palin’s interview Tuesday with conservative talker Hugh Hewitt gave the vice presidential candidate a chance to showcase elements of her life story and demonstrate some of the folksiness that’s been central to her political success.

It’s exactly the kind of interview that voters can expect to see from the governor in the coming weeks, according to a Palin adviser, who recognized that there is hunger in Republican circles and among the public at large to see a less-scripted, more authentic candidate. That means more comfortable settings like conservative talk radio, and fewer opportunities for Palin to stumble, as was the case with a pair of high-profile network interviews with ABC and CBS.

“We’re going to be continue to put her in settings where she has an opportunity to shine, to be on offense,” the adviser said. “We’ve gotten very good feedback from the public from Hugh Hewitt interview.”

Ah, yes, the Hewitt interview. Hewitt, for those of you unfamiliar with his work, is a prominent Republican blogger and talk-show host. Andrew Sullivan recently named an award after him: “The Hewitt Award — named after the absurd partisan fanatic, Hugh Hewitt, is given for the most egregious attempts to label Barack Obama as un-American, alien, treasonous, and far out of the mainstream of American life and politics.”

And what, pray tell, led the McCain campaign to think Palin’s interview with Hewitt went so smoothly? Well, consider some of the questions. Here’s one: “Governor, your candidacy has ignited extreme hostility, even some hatred on the left and in some parts of the media. Are you surprised?”

Here’s another: “Now Governor, the Gibson and the Couric interview struck many as sort of pop quizzes designed to embarrass you as opposed to interviews. Do you share that opinion?”

And another: “You’re pro-life, and how much of the virulent opposition to you on the left do you attribute to your pro-life position, and maybe even to the birth of, your decision, your and Todd’s decision to have Trig?”

In a classic episode of “The Simpsons,” Lisa is forced to ask Mr. Burns a scripted question about his gubernatorial campaign. Lisa says, “Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?”

I expected ol’ Hugh to ask Palin the same question. He might have, if he’d been given more time.

Remember, according to the McCain campaign, the goal is for Palin to do more of these sycophantic interviews, instead of serious discussions with legitimate professionals.

It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so ridiculous.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.