Women Demanding Answers

Oct. 1, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

A month ago, I commented that US journalists seem reluctant to press politicians for answers. They ask a question, the politician gives an evasive response, and on to the next question. Or they will allow the politician to speak in generalities rather than insist on specifics.

During the Obama-McCain debate, poor Jim Lehrer couldn’t get either candidate to say how he’d scale back his proposals given the straitened economic circumstances he was sure to inherit. Lehrer was too polite to say point blank, “Here’s the question. Are you going to answer it or not?”

For some reason, it seems to be mostly women who are willing to speak bluntly and demand answers. It took a stand-up comic on a chat show for women (Joy Behar on The View) to tell McCain to his face that some of his ads were lies. And it was Campbell Brown, questioning a McCain adviser, who demanded specific examples of Sarah Palin's commander-in-chief decisions.

Here’s Katie Couric trying to get Palin to say whether human activities are the cause of global warming.

Here’s a transcript in case the video doesn’t play:
Couric: What’s your position on global warming? Do you believe it’s man-made or not?
Palin: Well, we’re the only Arctic state, of course, Alaska. So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent. We have erosion issues. And we have melting sea ice, of course. So, what I’ve done up there is form a sub-cabinet to focus solely on climate change. Understanding that it is real. And …
Couric: Is it man-made, though in your view?
Palin: You know there are - there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts. I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate. Because the world’s weather patterns are cyclical. And over history we have seen change there. But kind of doesn’t matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is: it’s real; we need to do something about it.
At another point, Couric asks her which newspapers and magazines she reads. Palin is deliberately vague, but Couric asks twice for specifics.

Couric: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
Couric: What, specifically?
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.
Couric: Can you name a few?
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.
Palin’s supporters have been claiming that the press is out to get her. If they are, asking her questions and letting her speak for herself may be the best strategy.

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