Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Gibson Doctrine

When a member of the mainstream press interviews a Democrat, the interviewer will only ask questions that allow the interviewee to present himself or herself in a favorable light. The objective of the interview is to edify. The interviewer should ask a lot of general and open-ended questions. The interview should be conducted as if two good friends are having a friendly chat but the interviewer should show deference to the interviewee. When a member of the mainstream press is interviewing a Republican, the interviewer should ask questions that will present the interviewee in an unfavorable light. The objective of the interview is to showcase the weaknesses or flaws in the interviewee or to embarrass or rattle the interviewee. The interviewer should ask a lot of questions that require detailed answers or close-ended questions. The interview should be conducted in a friendly manner but in structure it should resemble an attorney cross-examining a witness. ~ The Gibson Doctrine

Below are a list of question Charlie Gibson asked Barack Obama in an interview;
How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?
How does it feel to "win"?
How does your family feel about your “winning,” breaking a glass ceiling?
Who will be your VP?
Should you choose Hillary Clinton as VP?
Will you accept public finance?
What issues is your campaign about?
Will you visit Iraq?
Will you debate McCain at a town hall?
What did you think of your Clinton's speech?

Below are the questions Charlie Gibson asked Sarah Palin.
Do you have enough qualifications for the job you’re seeking?
Specifically have you visited foreign countries and met foreign leaders?
Questions about foreign policy: territorial integrity of Georgia, allowing Georgia and Ukraine to be members of NATO, NATO treaty, Iranian nuclear threat, what to do if Israel attacks Iran, Al Qaeda motivations, the Bush Doctrine, attacking terrorists harbored by Pakistan.
Is America fighting a holy war?

The transcript of the Gibson/Obama interview is here:

The transcript of the Gibson/Palin interview is here:

Other than the way in which Gibson asked the "Bush Doctrine" question to make it appear Palin did not know what it was, when in fact there is no single definition of the Bush Doctrine, I do not think the interview was improper or unfair. I want candidates to be asked hard questions. What I object to is the uneven treatment. The Democrats get asked the easy questions and are allowed to weasel out of an answer while the Republicans are nailed to the wall. It is my observation that this is generally true of most main stream journalist. They find it difficult to be objective. The late Tim Russert, I thought, was an exception and was fair and even handed despite being liberal. Most journalist miserably fail in hiding their liberal bias.

Disclaimer: While I would like to take credit for it, this post is not a result of original research. I first came across this information on a couple different chat groups and then traced it to three different blogs. I have read the above transcripts and the lists of questions are accurate. I have included the links to those interviews if you would like to read them for yourself. I formulated the Gibson Doctrine based on my observations.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I concur with your assessment of Tim Russert. He was definitely 'equal opportunity' and solely interested in getting to the facts. His passing was a real loss to the world of journalism.

    On Charles Gibson:

    For a good example of an unfair 'interview' from him towards Obama, I would take a look at the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary Debate. I mention that specifically because I believe that particular event led to the type of interview he conducted with Gov. Palin.

    The first question I would ask is, why did the McCain campaign choose Charles Gibson and ABC News to conduct the interview? Keep in mind, it was the second exclusive granted to Gibson in as many weeks, the first being with Sen. McCain himself the night before his RNC convention speech. Now, while it was no 'puff piece', it was a fairly light hearted, positive discussion:

    So the campaign gives Charles another scoop, and although I don't believe they thought he was going to handle Gov. Palin with kid gloves, they may have considered it to be a friendlier interview than say, Chris Matthews.

    That wasn't the case, obviously. But I do believe Gov. Palin did herself no favors in responding to the Bush Doctrine question with a nearly 3 second pause before asking, "In what respect, Charlie?" As Charles Krauthammer stated, there is more than one correct answer to, "What is the Bush Doctrine?" However, Gov. Palin's pause seemed to give Gibson pause, and he started to explain which portion of the Doctrine he was referring to, but stopped mid-sentence to ask her what she thought it was. I don't want to get too far off track, but I think she was sandbagged in some respects although she should be prepared for it being a newcomer to the national scene in her first interview.

    But back to why? Again, I go back to the Pennsylvania debate, which was critically panned for the lack of depth in the questioning and was somewhat of an embarrassment for ABC. My personal opinion is that as a result, ABC was on the outside looking in once the Presidential Debate schedule was announced. NBC, CBS, and PBS were pegged for hosting, and ABC lost out on what would have been a large chunk of revenue. I think there was a loss of creditability as a result, and Gibson's approach in the Palin interview (which they knew would get a large number of viewers) was an attempt to restore some of that.

    There is also another thread that ties those two events together, and that would be the relationship between Sen. Hillary Clinton and George Stephanopoulos. It wouldn't shock me to think that Gov. Palin's emergence and her statements in her initial announcement speech didn't stick in Hillary's craw, and she sent her "hitmen" to knock Sarah down a peg or two. But that would be the more cynical version of my conjectures.

    Interesting blog...