NBC News Jealous? Runs Whole Story on Palin Avoiding Press

The night before CBS's Katie Couric will sit down with Sarah Palin to discuss foreign policy and just under two weeks after ABC's Charles Gibson got three interview sessions over two days with Palin in Alaska, the NBC Nightly News, the only broadcast network evening newscast snubbed so far by Palin, devoted a full story to how reporters were initially barred from her photo-ops with foreign leaders and her general lack of availability to the press.

“The McCain campaign has been launching something of a campaign against the news media these days, and when things heated up for a time today, we almost didn't see those pictures” of her in Manhattan with Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe as well as Henry Kissinger. Reporter Savannah Guthrie explained how “campaign officials invited the media to attend the beginning of the meeting but at the last minute banned reporters, a departure from the usual practice, saying only photographers would be allowed. When news organizations threatened to pull the cameras if reporters were banned, the campaign relented.” Guthrie rued:
In the month since Palin joined the ticket, she’s granted just two major interviews, appeared at one joint town hall and held no news conferences. Reporters on the trail rarely see her.
CNN, which also hasn't been granted an interview with Palin, put “FREE SARAH PALIN!” on screen during an entire 8 PM EDT Election Center segment devoted to journalists complaining about how she's not answering their questions. Host Campbell Brown conceded “it's annoying to reporters that she's being kept under lock and key” and “stage-managed,” but she asked about voters: “Do they feel like they're getting a mannequin when they see her now?”

Neither ABC nor CBS on Tuesday night touched on any media upset with McCain-Palin operatives trying to block reporters from the Palin photo-ops.

My September 22 NewsBusters item, “Couric Has Cushy Chat with Biden, Will She Be as Warm with Palin?” challenged Couric to go as easy on Palin, “whom Couric is scheduled to interview this week,” as she did with Joe Biden on Monday after spending last Thursday on the campaign trail with him. While Couric will interview Palin on Wednesday, the more apt comparison to Biden will be the story resulting from Couric spending this coming Sunday and Monday with Palin.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Tuesday, September 23 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Which all brings us back to this campaign trail. With 42 days to go, we're in the mix of news today. There is a new Obama ad airing in Michigan that doesn't just tweak the McCains for owning a reported 13 cars, but criticizes them for owning foreign cars. And it's been a rough couple of days for Joe Biden. Misstatements about coal plants in the U.S., FDR being on television before television was invented, and Barack Obama has been forced to go against Joe Biden on the massive AIG insurance bailout. Biden had come out against it, but Obama told Matt Lauer this morning, his running mate should have held off that judgment at the time.

And that brings us to the GOP running mate, Sarah Palin. Today was designed to showcase her, in pictures like this one, at the big U.N. General Assembly gathering here in New York. The campaign, the McCain campaign has been launching something of a campaign against the news media these days, and when things heated up for a time today, we almost didn't see those pictures. The story tonight from NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: As global leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly, the newest player on the world stage, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, made her debut. Meetings with the presidents of Afghanistan and Colombia, and an hour and a half with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. But for Palin, whose public appearances have been carefully controlled and orchestrated, those pictures almost didn't happen. Campaign officials invited the media to attend the beginning of the meeting but at the last minute banned reporters, a departure from the usual practice, saying only photographers would be allowed. When news organizations threatened to pull the cameras if reporters were banned, the campaign relented, calling it a miscommunication.

JOHN McCAIN AT CAMPAIGN EVENT: I can't wait until I introduce her to Washington, D.C.!

GUTHRIE: In the month since Palin joined the ticket, she’s granted just two major interviews, appeared at one joint town hall and held no news conferences. Reporters on the trail rarely see her.

CLIP OF REPORTER: How about a question?

JOHN HARWOOD, NEW YORK TIMES/CNBC: The McCain campaign is plainly trying to protect Sarah Palin from making a mistake in an unscripted situation that could haunt them for the rest of the campaign.

GUTHRIE: McCain himself, once easily accessible to reporters, hadn't held a news conference for six weeks, until today. Tomorrow he'll join Palin in New York for a series of joint meetings with world leaders. Her senior foreign policy advisor insists the meetings are not just for show.

STEVE BIEGUN, PALIN SENIOR ADVISOR: This isn't a photo-op. This is an opportunity for her to build personal relationships with the leaders with whom we need to cooperate in the world.

GUTHRIE: Well, Palin is getting a crash course in diplomacy with the vice presidential debate just over a week away. It will be a more structured format, by the way -- not as free-wheeling as some of the presidential debates are expected to be. And some say that format will benefit Palin.

WILLIAMS: Things are getting interesting out there. Savannah Guthrie, thank you for that.
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