Say what you will about Charlie Gibson’s interview of Sarah Palin last week (we certainly did). At least it was journalism. Last night’s exchange between Palin and Sean Hannity—the second interview granted by the would-Veep to a television news network and, as a BREAKING NEWS chyron repeatedly reminded its viewers, HER FIRST INTERVIEW ON CABLE TV—was something else entirely. A chat between pals? Mutual back-slapping? Proto-propaganda? Some combination thereof? I’m really not sure.
Palin, for her part, did well. Though she answered Hannity’s questions with a frustrating lack of specificity, she also did so with a great deal more assuredness and fluency than she’d exhibited in the Gibson interview. She discussed her stances on drilling in ANWR and on energy independence with authority. As Karl Rove put it, commenting on Hannity & Colmes after the interview aired, “I thought that really was a compelling and very credible performance.” In many ways, it was. After last week’s showing, it was a relief to see Palin looking both confident and, more importantly, competent.
But, then again, she was in her element. Hannity wasn’t just a friendly adversary in the interview; he was a full-on cheerleader. While he asked the vice presidential nominee substantial-if-fairly-predictable questions about the economy and energy—never following up on her well-presented but generally vague talking points—he spent just as much time asking Palin about the campaign itself. And about, for that matter, why Obama and Biden are so wrong about so many things…and why McCain and Palin are, in so many ways, so right.
Wait, you missed the interview last night? And you think I might be overstating the case? Well, this being about Fox News, and all: We report. You decide. Below, a selection of the questions Hannity asked of Palin last night:
HANNITY: Explain when you were governor and, as governor of Alaska, how you took on your own party. There’s this — you know, you still have a very high approval rating, but there are people that still weren’t happy about it. How did you take on your own party, specifically? And do you think you’d be able to do that, as well, in Washington?
HANNITY: Senator Obama on the campaign trail — and Senator Biden as well — they often criticize John McCain, that, well his plan is — he’s going to continue the policies of tax cuts for the wealthy. For those that maybe buy into that class warfare agreement or think, why shouldn’t the rich pay more? My question to you is the converse: why does everyone benefit if the rich pay less or if everybody pays less in taxes? Why is that good for the economy?
HANNITY: Is Senator Obama … using what happened on Wall Street this week — is he using it for political gain? Is there a danger of a presidential candidate is saying to the world that America’s situation of economic crisis is the worst that we’ve seen in decades — which was words that he was using yesterday — is there a danger in terms of the world hearing that?
HANNITY: Things have gotten pretty heated on the campaign trail and especially in the last two days. There were two weeks where I think you were the focus of the attack. Now it seems that the focus of the attack is Senator McCain.
Do you think these attacks, ratcheting up these attacks by Barack Obama — I don’t know if you had a chance to see the speech yesterday — and by Senator Biden, do you think these attacks will be effective?
HANNITY: Well, let me ask you, Americans have heard, for example, a lot of information, false information, misinformation or incorrect information on ANWR. Some have said the drilling there is going to hurt the animals, it’s going to ruin the environment, it’s going to hurt the environment and hurt the landscape. You know, it’s clear I’ve heard you talk passionately about your love for your state of Alaska. You know, why then why then would you support drilling in Alaska? Why would that be a good thing?