CNN’s Kyra Phillips Goes Easy on Obama Adviser Douglass, Presses Lieberman

On Thursday’s "Newsroom" program, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips treated senior Obama adviser/former ABC correspondent Linda Douglass more cordially than McCain supporter/Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, whom she pressed for an answer on the question of whether Sarah Palin is smarter than her opponent Joe Biden: "Is, is she deep enough? Is she smart enough? Is she experienced enough? Do you really think she is better than Joe Biden?"

Phillips had the two on for back-to-back interviews just after the bottom half of the 1 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Phillips began her interview of Douglass by asking a softball question: "I just want what to know, as a strong female who's been very successful, is all this talk about, oh, Joe Biden needs to be a gentleman. He needs to watch his manners. He needs to treat Sarah Palin like a lady. Does that bother you in any way that that's even coming up?" Douglass initially responded by exclaiming, "What a good question! You are the first person who has asked that question today." After the Obama adviser completed her answer, Phillips followed-up with a light comment: "Good. But he'll still get the door for her, right?" The two of them shared a laugh over the quip.

The CNN anchor then asked Douglass (who stated earlier this year that she "always" had problems with John McCain) two questions about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She first highlighted the Alaska governor’s "tough time with some of these network interviews and receiving a lot of criticism." She then asked, "Is that going to work to his advantage? Is he going to look for those weak spots and try and stump her, or is he just going to stay focused on -- this is my experience, this is what I know, this is why I should be the vice president?"

Douglass answered by touting how Obama plans to focus on the issue of the current volatile economic climate. Phillips then asked, "Is the Palin effect wearing off? Have these recent television interviews helped Obama, recently, in any way -- helped Joe Biden in any way?" The Obama advisor answered, "Well, it's really hard to say. These polls are all over the map. They've been so wild and extreme."

Later, Phillips asked her only confrontational question to Douglass: "Well, and for sake of fairness, Biden has made a number of gaffes on the campaign trail as well. How has he been preparing? Has he been sequestered and meeting with advisers and, has he been surrounded by consultants?" The CNN anchor ended the interview after Douglass gave her standard campaign answer about how McCain committed a "gaffe" by "saying that the fundamentals of the economy are strong in the middle of this financial meltdown."

The CNN anchor then immediately went to Senator Lieberman and asked him the same initial question that she had asked Douglass: "...I want to ask you the same question, this whole talk about Joe Biden, he better be a gentleman, treat her like a lady. How does that make you feel? How does that make your candidate feel?" After Lieberman gave his answer, Phillips began pressing the senator about the Alaska governor’s qualification/preparedness: "...[S]he has not handled those network interviews very well, and she's received a lot of heat. So what's the story? Does she know what she's talking about? Is she qualified, or -- or was she treated unfairly by [being] given too many advisers; told to worry about too much; too much coaching; too much being sequestered -- and that's taken a knock at her confidence?"

When Lieberman focused on how Palin is "very strong, has "great values," and how "she's a breath of fresh air that Washington desperately needs," Phillips followed up strongly: " Is, is she deep enough? Is she smart enough? Is she experienced enough? Do you really think she is better than Joe Biden?" When the Connecticut senator affirmed that "she is deep enough, she is smart enough and she's made decisions," Phillips asked about his personal experience with the Alaska governor: "Did you advise her? Did you talk to Sarah Palin? Did you advise her? Did you tell her what she needed to do?"

After Lieberman described how he helped prepare Palin, the CNN anchor replied by bluntly asking, "But is she smarter than Joe Biden?" When the McCain supporter balked at first, Phillips persisted: "Come on. You know Joe Biden. You're supporting Sarah Palin. I want to hear it, Senator. I want to hear it." Lieberman then tried to sidestep the question by acknowledging how both Biden and Palin were smart. But Phillips asked her intelligence question one more time before ending the interview: "I'm going to try one more -- I'm going to try -- you know, I'm going to try one more time. Is she smarter than Joe Biden? You know Joe Biden and she's going for the vice presidential position....You don't think that's important?"

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