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A last look at the Gibson ambush of Sarah Palin

Written by Vincent Gioia

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vincent.jpgSeptember 16, 2008
By Vincent Gioia
One way to judge Charlie Gibson's "interview" with Sarah Palin is to compare how Charlie quizzed Barack Obama and how he used his time with Sarah to try to embarrass her or at least make liberals in his audience understand that McCain's running mate does not share their leftist's views.

The only similarity in Gibson's approach to Obama and Palin is that Gibson sat face-to-face with both of them. The questions posed by Gibson to Obama mainly focused on positive biographical elements rather than Obama's views that would reveal the real candidate. There is no doubt Gibson could have been tougher with Obama who at the time of the interview showed he did not know what he was talking about by suggesting he would meet hostile heads of state, like Iran, without preconditions.

Here's part of the transcript of the November 1, 2007 segment on ABC's World News:

GIBSON: Next, the presidential race and our attempt to explore the private side of the candidates, to learn about the events and the influences that have shaped them and brought them to this point in their political careers. So today in our "Who Is?" series, a Democrat relatively new to national politics, Senator Barack Obama.

"GIBSON: Your mom comes from the Pacific Northwest, migrates to Hawaii, goes to college there, right away, meets a dashing young Kenyan, gets pregnant and the result-

OBAMA: That's me.

GIBSON: That's you. His father got a fellowship to study on the mainland and never came back.

OBAMA: He became sort of a mythic figure. One, one of the great gifts that my mother gave to me was a positive impression of my father despite the fact that he didn't always behave very well towards her or to his family. And so he was gone by the time I was two.

GIBSON: Obama's mother would remarry and take her son to Indonesia for five years. Only once again did he ever see his father, that, when Obama was 10 he didn't care enough to stay.

GIBSON: How did you internalize that?

OBAMA: Every man is either trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. And, you know, in some ways, I'm probably doing both. My conclusion is that some of my drive comes from wanting to prove that he should have stuck around, that, that I was worthy of his attentions. There's no doubt that his absence had an impact on me. I engaged in a bunch of self-destructive behavior. I drank. I, you know, tried drugs. I didn't take my schoolwork seriously.

GIBSON: It all changed for Obama in his final college years. (to Obama) What flipped?

OBAMA: I like to think that, that at some point, the, the better angels of my nature took control and that I had some sense deep inside me that, you know, I could, I could make a contribution.

GIBSON: For five years out of college, he worked to pay off student loans and was a community organizer in Chicago, which led him back to school, Harvard Law School, and on a summer job ... At first, Obama was intimidated by the Harvard law students.

OBAMA: You got a sense, these folks are running on nuclear energy and I'm running on, on steam.

GIBSON: But he found he could more than hold his own, finishing first in his class and being editor of the 'Harvard Law Review." He's candid: it was at Harvard he first thought of running for President.

GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"

OBAMA: I thought these will be the people who will be leading at some point. And, you know, I feel comfortable within this group, being able to lead.

GIBSON: You have written, "I learned to slip back and forth between my black and my white worlds." The simple question I guess is in which world do you really belong?

OBAMA: I think it's both. What's interesting is, is how deeply American I feel, considering this exotic background, that, somehow, all this, this amalgam is part of who I am. And that's part of the reason I love this country so much."

Gibson clearly was trying to show his viewers that Obama was someone who rose above his weird beginning and deserved serious consideration for high office based on his credentials, not his political views which are not shared by most Americans who make an effort to learn what they are.

Here are some of Gibson's questions to Sarah; quite a difference.

GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?

GIBSON: John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?

GIBSON: Homosexuality, genetic or learned?

GIBSON: Is it sexist for people to ask how can somebody manage a family of seven and the vice presidency? Is that a sexist question to ask?

GIBSON: When we posted this question on the Internet, we had 15,000 replies within 48 hours and every woman with young children struggles with this question, should I, how can I, will I be able to. And I'm curious to hear you talk just about how you've internalized that.

GIBSON: Governor, John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.

GIBSON: So let me summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans. One, two, three.

GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?

GIBSON: So you'd take military off the table, the veterans' benefits. That's 20 percent of the budget. ... Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Do you see any "fair and balance" here? Obama gets what are called "softball questions" and Sarah Palin gets quite a different reception from Charlie Gibson.

However probably the issue that most distinguishes the Sarah inquisition from the treatment received by Obama is in the area of taxes.

Here is how Charlie Gibson brought up the subject of taxes and Sarah's response.

"GIBSON: You mentioned in the three principles that you'll change spending. You also talked about taxes. Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?

PALIN: Well, I would argue with the whole premise of that is his mission is to not increase taxes. He's had 94 opportunities to either vote for a tax cut or not support tax increases. And 94 times, he's been on the other side of what I believe the majority of Americans want."

The characterization of the so-called tax cuts proposed by Obama has been described by Brit Hume as an "Obama Dishonesty".

On the subject of "dishonesty" in McCain's TV ads on Fox News Sunday Brit Hume pointed out "Barack Obama goes around claiming he's going to cut the taxes of 95 percent of the public, which is literally impossible since 40 percent of American taxpayers don't pay any income tax. [Nonetheless] ABC (directly) and CBS (implicitly) have advanced the false premise that 95% of Americans would receive Obama tax cuts as fact. Charlie Gibson in his third interview session with Sarah Palin stated that Obama will extend the ‘Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country.'"

Brit Hume said "Those who don't pay any income tax will get from Obama's plan a subsidy. It's hardly a tax cut, it's in fact spending."

Of course Hume is correct but truth telling is not on the liberal media agenda; getting Obama elected is their goal.

Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His articles may be read at http://www.vincentgioia.com/ and he may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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