Palin vs. Press

23 09 2008

Sarah Palin finally got to meet with a foreign head of state! Her crash course in international diplomacy has moved from the memorization of talking points, to actual face-to-face meetings with several world leaders at the U.N. Palin and McCain plan to meet with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko. Palin was then to “fly solo” meeting separately with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Columbian President Alvaro Uribe, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

So finally, an opportunity for the press to observe and report on Palin’s self-proclaimed “readiness” to handle foreign policy issues. She’s ready because she’s confident! She’s confident in her readiness! She’s on a mission, and the mission is to not blink! Bring it on! Stump the candidate!

So, how will the press cover this? What will Palin have to say when she’s in real-life interaction with those who will potentially be her partners in international affairs that affect the world? We learned this morning that the McCain campaign had banned the press. The TV producer, print and wire reporters in the press pool that follows Palin as she travels the country, were told that they would not be admitted to the meetings. There would, of course be photographers and a camera crew to capture iconic images of the events so we can see Palin meeting with these world leaders, without actually knowing what anyone said. Convenient for the McCain campaign.

The Associated Press, and at least one other news organization objected to the decision, but were told it was not subject to discussion.

In a surprising move of chutzpah, CNN, who was to provide the TV news outlets with footage, pulled its camera crew from the first meeting between Palin and Hamid Karzai, denying the McCain campaign the high visibility (with accompanying convenient silence) they were seeking for Palin. But, after agreeing to allow a CNN producer to accompany the camera crew, CNN relented, and joined the meeting.

According to the CNN producer who was let into Karzai’s hotel suite with the photographers just before noon, Karzai was talking about his son. Palin was nodding, and asked what his name is. Karzai replied his name was Mirwais and explained that it means light of the house.

The media were escorted out after about 40 seconds.

Ah. Now we’ve learned that Palin likes talking about other people’s kids names. I wonder if Palin volunteered that her children are named after sporting events, motor vehicles, and Alaskan towns? Surely our problems in Afghanistan are over.

Campaign aides subsequently announced that reporters would be allowed to accompany photographers into the later sessions with Uribe and Kissinger.

At that point, campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said it was all just a “miscommunication.” Earlier, she had said, “The decision was made for this to be a photo spray with still cameras and video cameras only.”

A photo “spray”? Is that what happens when the decision to ban the press hits the fan?

Stay tuned, America. We may find out whether Henry Kissinger played hockey as a kid, or if Alvaro Uribe knows how to field dress a jaguar! Spray on!