New Yorker Column Short on Facts, Long on Attacks of ABC News

By SteveK 

The New Yorker‘s Steve Coll spends a column today blasting ABC News over a variety of issues relating to Charlie Gibson’s interview with Gov. Sarah Palin. But the overriding theme — that ABC attempted to turn the interview into an entertainment event — appears factually incorrect.

Describing ABC’s promo of the sit-down (“the interview everybody has been waiting for”) Coll writes, “The double-entendre was as close as [ABC News president David] Westin came to acknowledging his collaboration with the McCain campaign’s decision to sequester Palin until the potent anniversary date of September 11th.”

As TVNewser first reported, ABC News was contacted by the McCain campaign just after Gibson anchored last Friday’s World News (September 5), and there was no “collaboration” between the two sides prior.

Coll’s other major complaint was about the lengthy roll-out of interview clips. “Westin exploited the Governor’s moose-hunting, baby-juggling appeal as if she were a magnetic contestant on one of the network’s prime-time reality show,” he writes.

The decision to air the interview in parts (certainly not a unique choice), rather than all on one night, could be debated, but there was an explained reason by ABC News prior to the sit-down — the “interview” was rather a series of interviews taking place over multiple days. And ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told TVNewser last week, “Our goal is to turn the material as fast as we can. There’s a real overriding public interest in hearing from Gov. Palin.”

We hear people inside ABC News are none too pleased with the New Yorker over the piece for its factual inaccuracies.

Stay tuned — this doesn’t appear to be over.

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz wrote about a different angle today of the Gibson-Palin interview — and what broadcast anchor may be next to interview the VP candidate…

Kurtz writes in The Washington Post today about the interview, calling it, “all business.”

“Gibson managed to cut through that static,” writes Kurtz. “Instead of the touchy-feely stuff, there were questions about Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, abortion, gun control and global warming. Gibson did no grandstanding, even as he followed up on questions three or four times.”

Kurtz also touched on who may be next to interview Palin. “The plan is to give CBS’s Katie Couric a chance later on, and perhaps NBC’s Brian Williams as well,” he writes.

Kurtz reports the McCain campaign was “satisfied with the interviews but found Gibson a bit condescending at times.”