I have been reflecting on the Charles Gibson’s performance during his ABCinterview of Gov. Sarah Palin and I actually feel bad for him. Because Palin has not been as available to the press as they would have liked, he had the burden of representing the entire mainstream media establishment. And with the mainstream media admitting they are “angry” and passionate these last few weeks, that put Gibson in a very difficult position. I mean, he has to work with and socialize with these people for the rest of his life. That is an incredible amount of peer pressure and it had to have been an unbelievably difficult situation for him. I don’t think it excuses getting basic facts wrong but it’s just worth considering all the pressures he was under.
And while Gibson’s performance is getting eviscerated as unfair by many observers — and that includes the New York Times media critic and the Los Angeles Times — he’s also getting lots of support from some media friends. So I think that he probably did what he needed to do to stay in the good graces of his colleagues.
But some of that support is based on surprisingly bad information. Surprising since you expect media critics to sort of know what’s going on in the business. This comes from the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, who thought Gibson was “serious, professional and respectful”:
After switching to Fox, I learned that part of the interview was controversial.
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words.
On Fox, Newt Gingrich called this “a sad commentary on the growing anti-religious hostility of the news media.” I would call it asking the governor about her own words.
Emphasis mine. Oh, Howard, Howard, Howard. What an unfortunate choice of words! If you’re going to reference the controversy, at least get the controversy right.
Kurtz seems like the kind of guy who will correct errors, so hopefully he’ll get on this one as soon as possible.