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Brent Bozell talks about MRC's "Worst of the Worst 2014" on FNC's Hannity, 10:30pm ET/PT

Palin 'Didn't Embarrass Herself,' Upset Didn't Answer --10/3/2008


1. A Surprise Palin 'Didn't Embarrass Herself,' Upset Didn't Answer
Two themes in post-VP debate coverage Thursday night: First, "surprise" that Sarah Palin wasn't a "car wreck" and "did not embarrass herself." Second, distress that she failed to answer moderator Gwen Ifill's questions. On NBC, Chuck Todd observed "those that were tuning in looking for some sort of car wreck, probably came away disappointed." CBS's Katie Couric proposed, without saying in which camp journalists fall, "the headline is Governor Sarah Palin did not embarrass herself or her running mate as some Republicans might have feared and some Democrats might have hoped." Colleague Bob Schieffer asserted that "I think a lot of people were expecting" Palin "to make some sort of blunder or mistake and she did not do that." Jeff Greenfield, also on CBS, decided "Palin passed the Tina Fey test. Anyone looking for a deer in the headlights experience didn't get one tonight." Over on ABC, Diane Sawyer found that Palin, "after a bruising time in the media, showed up not just with confidence, but cheerful confidence that might surprise a lot of people."

2. Stephanopoulos Again Declares the Liberal the Debate Winner
Six days after declaring Barack Obama the winner of the first presidential debate, following Thursday's VP debate George Stephanopoulos again decided the liberal Democrat in the debate, this time Joe Biden, was the winner -- but in assigning his "Nightline Report Card" grades he gave both Biden and Sarah Palin the same overall assessments: each got one A, one A-minus and one B. Asked by anchor Terry Moran to name "the winner," Stephanopoulos argued: "Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win..."

3. MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Palin Looked Into Camera Like a 'Dolt'
After the vice presidential debate Chris Matthews criticized Sarah Palin for, of all things, looking into the camera because it made her look like a "dolt." In fact, the Hardball host took several stylistic shots at Palin that implied the Alaska Governor wasn't very intelligent. When guest panelist Roger Simon noted Palin looked directly into the camera, Matthews observed during the midnight EDT Hardball: "You know what I think of people when they come on Hardball, and they look at the camera, I think they're dolts." In addition to the "dolt" remark, Matthews earlier, in the 10:30 PM EDT half hour, viewed Palin's performance as "so reciting," and "automatic," "like a spelling bee," and charged: "The dangerous thing about these debates is that you can really recite your way to victory. You can memorize an awful lot of material and get away with it as intelligence, when in fact, it's just really good preparation."

4. Matthews Theme of the Night: Is It About Palin's 'Brain Power?'
During the 7pm EDT edition of Thursday's Hardball, Chris Matthews repeatedly asked his guests if Sarah Palin's "brain" was up to the task for the vice presidential debate. Matthews even managed to go where a Democratic Congresswoman wouldn't, when he asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "Is this about her brain power?" To which, even the Florida Democrat balked: "It's really not nice to suggest that there's something wrong with her brain power." Matthews later disparaged Palin: "My suspicion is that she has the same lack of intellectual curiosity that the President of the United States has right now and that is scary!"

5. ABC: Biden's 'Dilemma' is How to Answer Palin's 'Attacks'
At the top of Thursday's World News, just hours before the vice presidential debate, ABC anchor teased that "a new poll shows most Americans don't think" Palin is "ready to be a heartbeat away," and, in explaining the advice both candidates are getting from their advisers, George Stephanopoulos fretted about "the dilemma for Biden," which given that "we expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered."

6. Student: I'm for 'Expertise,' Matthews: So You're for Obama!
On the 5pm EDT edition of Thursday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews ventured out into the crowd of students on hand for the vice presidential debate at Washington University to see what they were looking for in a candidate. When one student responded, "I'd like a display of knowledge and expertise," Matthews interjected: "So you're on the Obama side, right?" Matthews then asked a different student, in an apparent shot at Sarah Palin, if a "candidate for Vice President should be able to get into Washington University?"

7. Late Show's 'Top Ten Surprises in the Vice Presidential Debate'
Letterman's "Top Ten Surprises in the Vice Presidential Debate." Number 10: "First question for Palin: 'Why in the hell do you keep agreeing to talk to Katie Couric?'"


A Suprise Palin 'Didn't Embarrass Herself,' Upset
Didn't Answer

Two themes in post-VP debate coverage Thursday night: First, "surprise" that Sarah Palin wasn't a "car wreck" and "did not embarrass herself." Second, distress that she failed to answer moderator Gwen Ifill's questions.

On NBC, Chuck Todd observed "those that were tuning in looking for some sort of car wreck, probably came away disappointed." CBS's Katie Couric proposed, without saying in which camp journalists fall, "the headline is Governor Sarah Palin did not embarrass herself or her running mate as some Republicans might have feared and some Democrats might have hoped." Colleague Bob Schieffer asserted that "I think a lot of people were expecting" Palin "to make some sort of blunder or mistake and she did not do that." Jeff Greenfield, also on CBS, decided "Palin passed the Tina Fey test. Anyone looking for a deer in the headlights experience didn't get one tonight." Over on ABC, Diane Sawyer found that Palin, "after a bruising time in the media, showed up not just with confidence, but cheerful confidence that might surprise a lot of people."

On Palin avoiding questions, CBS's Schieffer "found it a little disconcerting" that "time and again Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch in to some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her." On CNN, reporter/analyst Gloria Borger charged: "I think at the beginning of the debate actually, Sarah Palin's problem was that she wasn't answering questions directly." NBC anchor
Brian Williams scolded: "Looking at some of the e-mail traffic and some of the commentary online tonight, people found it bracing when she said quote, 'I may not answer the questions the way the moderator and you,' Senator Biden, 'want to hear.' Of course, it's the only set of rules in town."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Thursday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Echoing that breaking-the-rules complaint, on MSNBC Chris Matthews fretted: "'I'm not gonna give the answers the moderator wants to ask for.' What an extraordinary statement! 'I'm not gonna play by the rules...'"

Later on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell said "I thought she did a good job of sticking to her game-plan," but wasn't sure "whether that went over with the voters, the viewers. Because she didn't answer the questions and in fact she would say, 'I want to talk about taxes,' which hadn't even come up."

David Gergen effused on CNN over Biden's performance: "Joe Biden gave the best debate performance of his life. I thought he had superior knowledge, I thought he had superiority on the debate overall, on point, political points it may be a bit of a draw. As debate, I thought he was a superior debater."

On the other end of the spectrum, on NBC Peggy Noonan hailed Palin: "She killed. It was her evening..."

Harder now to ridicule Palin? On FNC, Chris Wallace ended an interview with former Senator Fred Thompson: "It may be harder for Tina Fey to mock her on Saturday Night Live, although, Lord knows, they'll try."

CBS went from all-Obama to pro-Palin, but their instant poll still found a win for the Democrat: After the first presidential debate on Friday night, Byron Pitts checked in from the CBS audience research center in Las Vegas and only featured one participant, a man who was pro-Obama. Thursday night, however, he acknowledged his group of undecided voters leaned to Obama, yet ran two clips, neither pro-Biden. A man criticized Biden and a woman asserted Palin had the "better connection with the American people."

As for the CBS News/Knowledge Networks poll of "uncommitted voters," they again picked the Democrat as the winner with 46 percent saying Biden won, 21 percent that Palin won and 33 saw it as a tie. Sharyl Attkisson highlighted how on the opinion of the two candidates, 53 percent thought better of Biden following the debate, 5 percent worse of him; 55 percent better of Palin, 14 percent worse of her. CBSNews.com summary of the survey of about 500 people: www.cbsnews.com

CNN's poll had 51 to 36 percent majority picking Biden as the winner.

The CyberAlert on the first presidential debate coverage: www.mrc.org

Lengthier quotes from the post-VP debate coverage on Thursday night, October 2:

# On MSNBC, as caught by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I've never heard anyone seek an office and then ask to have its powers increased on their watch. That's extraordinary! She wants more legislative power for the Vice President? That requires some more exploration by the press.
The other big news she made tonight was she's not gonna do many more serious interviews like she did with Katie Couric. She said, "I don't want to have the filter of the mainstream media." Wow! Not only did she say, "I'm not gonna do any more interviews," it seemed, but she was saying, "I'm not gonna listen to Gwen Ifill tonight." She said, "I'm not gonna give the answers the moderator wants to ask for." What an extraordinary statement! "I'm not gonna play by the rules, and when I get elected I want more power in the office that it's had before." Mmm, not too much humility here.

....

ANDREA MITCHELL: You know I, I agree with you and David [Gregory], in that she came with a game-plan and I thought she did a good job of sticking to her game-plan. What still is to be tested is to whether that sold, whether that went over with the voters, the viewers. Because she didn't answer the questions and in fact she would say, "I want to talk about taxes," which hadn't even come up.

# ABC News:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Neither one fed into the stereotypes. Sarah Palin didn't freeze, she didn't make any major mistakes. Joe Biden didn't go on too long, was never boorish or anything. So, they didn't fall into the stereotypes...

DIANE SAWYER: I thought that Governor Palin, after a bruising time in the media, showed up not just with confidence, but cheerful confidence that might surprise a lot of people, talking about her personal issues, and, as we saw, Senator Biden, who had to navigate some tricky terrain, cultural terrain, not only was respectful -- and he said that's the number one thing he wanted to do -- but, as we noticed, at one point, the Governor got the name wrong of the commander in Afghanistan. She said McClellan, it's General David McKiernan, but he didn't correct her.

# CBS News:

KATIE COURIC: Well, everyone was waiting to see how the political newcomer would do tonight and perhaps the headline is Governor Sarah Palin did not embarrass herself or her running mate as some Republicans might have feared and some Democrats might have hoped.

....

BOB SCHIEFFER: I think a lot of people were expecting Sarah Palin, who's virtually unknown to most people in this country until Senator McCain put her on the ticket, to make some sort of blunder or mistake and she did not do that. She pretty much held her own. But I must say, I thought Senator Biden had a very good night. He seemed comfortable with the facts. It was clear he has dealt with these issues over the years. I thought he put his experience on display in a very good way. I must say I found it a little disconcerting -- time and again Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch in to some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her. But, again, no major mistakes on his part. But I would underline, I think Joe Biden had a very good night tonight.

....

JEFF GREENFIELD: I do think, by the way, that Governor Palin passed the Tina Fey test. Anyone looking for a deer in the headlights experience didn't get one tonight.

# CNN:

DAVID GERGEN: Give credit to Sarah Palin. It was the Sarah Palin of the early part of the campaign, not the Sarah Palin who showed up for the Katie Couric interview. She was spirited, she came out well, she came out strong. I think there's every reason for the conservatives to be happy. That said, Joe Biden gave the best debate performance of his life. I thought he had superior knowledge, I thought he had superiority on the debate overall, on point, political points it may be a bit of a draw. As debate, I thought he was a superior debater.

....

GLORIA BORGER: I think at the beginning of the debate actually, Sarah Palin's problem was that she wasn't answering questions directly. When she was asked about what would you cut from your spending plans as a candidate, she didn't answer it. She didn't answer bankruptcy questions, she didn't directly go back to the gay civil rights issue. Whenever that occurred, at least in the first two, she would go back to her comfort zone, which was energy. I think she did improve later on in the debate because Biden was uncharacteristically restrained.

# NBC News:

CHUCK TODD: Well, Brian, those that were tuning in looking for some sort of car wreck, probably came away disappointed. You had two performances where neither one of them lived up to their negative stereotypes. Governor Palin proved very adept at being a good debater. She would duck questions she didn't want to answer. She would talk about the issues that she wanted to do. In many ways, she was a better surrogate for her top of the ticket than Joe Biden was for his.
Many times Joe Biden would slip into talking about Joe Biden and talking about the things that he was supporting or believing in. It was almost as if he was the candidate sometimes. I think Biden struggled with how to go at her early on in the debate, but I think about halfway through things clicked in for him pretty well, and he closed strong.
So if Governor Palin started this debate very strongly, I think Joe Biden probably close this strongly. And frankly, you're not going to see much of this debate probably have a big effect on this race.

....

BRIAN WILLIAMS TO GERALDINE FERRARO: Looking at some of the e-mail traffic and some of the commentary online tonight, people found it bracing when she said quote "I may not answer the questions the way the moderator and you," Senator Biden, "want to hear." Of course, it's the only set of rules in town.

....

PEGGY NOONAN: She killed. It was her evening. She was the star. She had him at, 'nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?' It was very interesting to me, for Palin tonight for an hour and a half, I think America saw her for a really long time, and she became a star probably on a new level. Gwen Ifill was not there for Sarah Palin. Joe Biden was not there for Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin was there with a camera. It was classic go over the heads of the media and everybody else, talk straight to the American people. She hit every populist chord....

Stephanopoulos Again Declares the Liberal
the Debate Winner

Six days after declaring Barack Obama the winner of the first presidential debate, following Thursday's VP debate George Stephanopoulos again decided the liberal Democrat in the debate, this time Joe Biden, was the winner -- but in assigning his "Nightline Report Card" grades he gave both Biden and Sarah Palin the same overall assessments: each got one A, one A-minus and one B. Asked by anchor Terry Moran to name "the winner," Stephanopoulos argued:
"Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win..."

The grades from ex-Democratic operative Stephanopoulos. On "Strategy," an A for Biden and an A-minus for Palin; on "Style," an A-minus for Biden and an A for Palin; and on "Accuracy," a B for both.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

He explained his "style" grades: "I think she tried the wink to the audience about four or five times over the course of the debate, and I think she really was connecting back with people at home. Joe Biden, a much more of a prosecutorial style, kind of a 'just the facts' style. He said that several times over the course of the debate. The good thing for Biden is that the facts, on a lot of the issues the country agrees more with Joe Biden, right now at least, than it does with Sarah Palin."

The September 29 CyberAlert item, "In 'Nightline Report Card' Stephanopoulos Gives Obama the Win," recounted:

Awarding Barack Obama two grades of A-minus and one B-minus while presenting John McCain with two grades of B-plus and one B-minus, at the end of his "Nightline Report Card" segment on Friday night, ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared Obama the "winner" -- with a big illustrative check mark on screen: "Bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change. His number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage. He was a credible commander-in-chief, that he could hold his own on national security. He did that tonight. He gets the win."

For the full rundown: www.mrc.org

Transcript, provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, of the "Nightline Report Card" segment on the Thursday, October 2 Nightline:

TERRY MORAN: And so the vice presidential debate is done. The candidates have spoken. How'd they do in this one-on-one, one chance to face off with each other? Our chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, is back to grade tonight's performance in the "Nightline Report Card," as they hammer away at dismantling the set behind us. George, first, what each candidate wanted to do, what they achieved. Strategy the first subject. What's the grade?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The most important subject, and the grade is "A" for Joe Biden, "A minus" for Sarah Palin. What was Joe Biden's strategy? It was clearly, he was going to debate John McCain tonight. He was not going to debate Sarah Palin. And he was going to do everything he could to say that John McCain would be a continuation of George W. Bush's presidency. That is the fundamental strategy of the Obama campaign, and Joe Biden hit it in every single answer tonight. He was coherent, he was consistent.
Now, Sarah Palin did quite well also. She showed she could handle the debate questions. She had a strategy to show herself as a Washington outside who, in her own words, could connect with the heartland and to portray Barack Obama as a liberal, to try to drive a little bit of a wedge between Barack Obama and Joe Biden, particularly on the issue of Iraq. But on the fundamental core strategy of the campaigns, I think Biden gets the edge here because if John McCain cannot convince the country he's taking it in a different direction from President Bush, he cannot win this race. And that's the case that Joe Biden made tonight.
MORAN: So a couple of high grades on the strategy. Now, they were a study in contrasts up there. So let's turn to style.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And different grades there. We have an "A minus" for Joe Biden and "A" for Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin had the style points even before the debate began. You noticed that when she walked out and said, "Nice to meet you, Joe. Can I call you 'Joe'?" And then you saw that kind of folksy-
MORAN: She got under his skin a little bit.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it was also just very winning. It was very appealing. And you saw that throughout the debate. I think we have some video here also. I think she tried the wink to the audience about four or five times over the course of the debate, and I think she really was connecting back with people at home. Joe Biden, a much more of a prosecutorial style, kind of a "just the facts" style. He said that several times over the course of the debate. The good thing for Biden is that the facts, on a lot of the issues the country agrees more with Joe Biden, right now at least, than it does with Sarah Palin. And I think over the course of the debate at first he was, as you said, he started out a little bit slow, he started off a little bit prosecutorial, he did get a little more emotional towards the end, connect with the audience a little better at the end. But a slight edge here to Governor Palin.
MORAN: And quickly, George, what did you make of that moment when Joe Biden seemed to be very emotional when talking about his children in the hospital after his wife and daughter were killed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was something, he caught himself up over the course of that moment. I think he did see real tears and what must have been going through his mind was the fact that his son Beau is going to be going to Iraq over the weekend. He's going to be sending one of his sons off. There was one other moment on style that I have to pick up on Senator Biden. You notice that, during the debate on Afghanistan, Governor Palin called the commanding general in Afghanistan "General McClellan" twice. Now, Joe Biden knew that the General's name is "General David McKiernan," and you could just see him holding back, but he had been told, and he was determined not to correct her, not to give her that opening. And he did. He just said "commanding general."
MORAN: Interesting. All right. Final subject here. Accuracy: How'd they do?
STEPHANOPOULOS: B's, both got B's. Joe Biden and Sarah Plain both made some misstatements. You know, when Joe Biden said that Barack Obama never said he would meet with the President of Iran, and he was wrong there. When he said that John McCain voted exactly the same way as Barack Obama on a tax vote, he was wrong. Sarah Palin was wrong when she said that Joe Biden has increased, I mean that Barack Obama has voted to increase taxes 94 times, when she said that the government is going to take over health care. So they were about even on this. But these are kind of garden variety political exaggerations and misleading attacks.
MORAN: It's more or less what you expect in a debate. But the bottom line here, who's the winner, George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win. He comes in to this debate tonight, his team comes into this debate tonight, behind. Probably five or six points behind.
In fact, McCain campaign pulled out of the state of Michigan today, so they're basically giving up on the state of Michigan. So, even though Governor Palin may have done something to stop the slide for John McCain, there was no circuit breaker tonight, no big game-changing argument to get the momentum back to John McCain. Only John McCain can do that for himself. The next debate is on Tuesday.
MORAN: And that one, no question about it, is a lot of pressure on John McCain.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Palin Looked
Into Camera Like a 'Dolt'

After the vice presidential debate Chris Matthews criticized Sarah Palin for, of all things, looking into the camera because it made her look like a "dolt." In fact, the Hardball host took several stylistic shots at Palin that implied the Alaska Governor wasn't very intelligent. When guest panelist Roger Simon noted Palin looked directly into the camera, Matthews observed during the midnight EDT Hardball: "You know what I think of people when they come on Hardball, and they look at the camera, I think they're dolts."

In addition to the "dolt" remark, Matthews earlier, in the 10:30 PM EDT half hour, viewed Palin's performance as "so reciting," and "automatic," "like a spelling bee," and charged: "The dangerous thing about these debates is that you can really recite your way to victory. You can memorize an awful lot of material and get away with it as intelligence, when in fact, it's just really good preparation."

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted late Thursday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following exchanges occurred during MSNBC's October 2, post vice presidential debate coverage and then later on a special midnight EDT edition of Hardball:

MATTHEWS: But for a while there I thought I was listening to a person recite to the point and I mean recite speech parts, to the point I thought I was watching a spelling-bee. It was so reciting. So automatic. It sounded like a spelling-bee where you read each word out, you recite the word, give the spelling, give the word back again, exactly the way you were taught. I think it sounded a bit automatic, but let's leave it to the viewers. Some people might find that bracing.

...

MATTHEWS: David [Gregory] I think the dangerous thing about these debates is that you can really recite your way to victory. You can memorize an awful lot of material and get away with it as intelligence, when in fact, it's just really good preparation.

...

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: When she faced the audience, she always looked directly into the camera, always directly at America. Joe Biden was turned for most of it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: He was looking at Gwen.
SIMON: At Gwen Ifill, exactly! Which came across better?
MATTHEWS: Well apparently according to all the polling, talking to, answering the questions of the moderator, not ignoring those questions, not doing what every, every first year candidate does is go right to the camera. You know what I think of people when they come on Hardball, and they look at the camera, I think they're dolts. I think that's the one thing people don't like, because when you're looking at me right now, that's real. You're looking at me that's real. You start looking in the camera right now and answer my question and see how you look. Okay just see how you look.
SIMON: Joe Biden went through-
MATTHEWS: Go ahead talk to the camera, don't talk, don't talk to me, see what you looked like. You look like a dolt!

Matthews Theme of the Night: Is It About
Palin's 'Brain Power?'

During the 7pm EDT edition of Thursday's Hardball, Chris Matthews repeatedly asked his guests if Sarah Palin's "brain" was up to the task for the vice presidential debate. Matthews even managed to go where a Democratic Congresswoman wouldn't, when he asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "Is this about her brain power?" To which, even the Florida Democrat balked: "It's really not nice to suggest that there's something wrong with her brain power." Matthews later disparaged Palin: "My suspicion is that she has the same lack of intellectual curiosity that the President of the United States has right now and that is scary!"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

However Matthews didn't let Schultz's hesitancy stop him from questioning the Republican vice presidential nominee's intelligence as he asked these series of questions about Palin to Schultz:

- Well do you think cute will beat brains?

- Do you think she'd do better on the questions on "Jeopardy" or the interview they do during a halftime?

- Congressman how much would you, how much would you like to be debating her tonight?

Then a little later on in the program, during a segment with the Politico's Mike Allen and New York magazine's John Heilemann, Matthews worried Palin's perceived lack of intellectual curiosity was "scary."

I think John McCain, his judgment is on trial tonight. And she may well win it tonight with charm and smarts and political perspicacity and know how to work around the questions. But I still, I'm stunned with her inability to answer these general knowledge questions, that most people who read the paper can answer. I don't know why she's afraid to answer them. Maybe it's her bad training. My suspicion is that she has the same lack of intellectual curiosity that the President of the United States has right now and that is scary!

The following exchanges occurred on the October 2 second, 7pm EDT edition of Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is an Obama supporter. Congresswoman let me ask you tonight. You're a politician and you're on this show a lot so let me ask you the same question I've asked everybody. What's the test for Sarah Palin tonight? Is it brains? Is it knowledge? Is it personality? Is it politics? Is it credibility? Is it ideology or is it simply composure in a difficult night? Try to pick one of these: brains, knowledge, personality, politics, credibility, ideology or composure? What's it about tonight?
[REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ]
MATTHEWS: Is this about her brain power?
SCHULTZ: No I mean, you know, it's, it's really not nice to suggest that there's something wrong with her brain power. This is about some, whether or not she is ready to be President of the United States. That's the only responsibility of a vice presidential candidate Chris. Are you ready? I mean you're one, one heartbeat away from the presidency. Ready means does she have the knowledge? Does she have a grasp of the depth of the job? Does she have the, the, the information that, that she can draw from? All of those things are gonna be incredibly important criteria to judge whether or not this is a person that should be one heartbeat away from the presidency and thus far Sarah Palin has not demonstrated she has any of those things, not even very much of a command of the, of the facts or the issues that are necessary for someone who is going to be the Vice President of the United States, potentially. So I think she's really got a tall order tonight. But she's demonstrated in previous debates that she rises to the challenge and like I said the bar is kind of low. So it's, this is gonna be a test of wills and because of the format she's gonna have an opportunity to really kind of get in those short answers that she seems to be good at and use a lot of quips and, and cute, cute remarks that might endear her to an audience. So this is not gonna be a cakewalk for Joe Biden, at all.
MATTHEWS: Well do you think cute will beat brains?
[SCHULTZ]
MATTHEWS: Do you think she'd do better on the questions on "Jeopardy" or the interview they do during a halftime?
[AUDIBLE GROANS FROM CROWD]
[SCHULTZ]
MATTHEWS: Congressman how much would you, how much would you like to be debating her tonight?
SCHULTZ: You know I, I, I, it's extremely tempting. It would be, it would be an exciting opportunity but Joe Biden-
MATTHEWS: I think you're right.
SCHULTZ: -is gonna be ready and I think he'll do just fine. But I'm chomping at the bit, I have to admit.
MATTHEWS: I think I got you blushing. I think I got you to blush Congresswoman, because you know you'd be dying to be in there.
Segment with Politico's Mike Allen and New York's John Heilemann:

MATTHEWS: Let me, let me ask you this. I know this is so uncool to ask this question, that's why I keep asking it. It seems to me if you show all the responses to Katie Couric's questions, especially, some of them Charlie Gibson's, what has grabbed people is not the answer she gave but where she seemed to not have answer. That long pause and that difficult use of words without thoughts, where you just started, like we did in a test in school.
MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO: Just fill up the blue book.
MATTHEWS: Is it, tonight, about brains? Is that what people are worried about? That the judgment of John McCain was to pick someone just for cultural reasons, geographic, gender reasons, but wasn't really a person who knew what they were talking about? Is that what it's about tonight? Yes or no?

...

MATTHEWS: She had no familiarity with the role of the vice presidency in the Katie Couric interview tonight. She couldn't name one vice president and what they'd done well as vice president. She wasn't able to talk about any Supreme Court decision. Not able to talk about what newspaper she reads. What question is an easy one for her! Tell me what the easy question is, and then they can ask it!

...

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to this. What should a Vice President of the United States know? What should a person who's up for the job, what is the minimal intellectual requirement? Give me a sense of it. It is some sense of American history? Some sense of the history of the job of vice president? Some sense of the Constitution of the United States? Those are the questions Katie Couric put to her. These are citizenship questions! These are questions you ask somebody just applying to become a U.S. citizen! Tell me what, what the, what the courts do in this country! Tell me, you know, these are basics!

...

MATTHEWS: I think John McCain, his judgment is on trial tonight. And she may well win it tonight with charm and smarts and political perspicacity and know how to work around the questions. But I still, I'm stunned with her inability to answer these general knowledge questions, that most people who read the paper can answer. I don't know why she's afraid to answer them. Maybe it's her bad training. My suspicion is that she has the same lack of intellectual curiosity that the President of the United States has right now and that is scary!

ABC: Biden's 'Dilemma' is How to Answer
Palin's 'Attacks'

At the top of Thursday's World News, just hours before the vice presidential debate, ABC anchor teased that "a new poll shows most Americans don't think" Palin is "ready to be a heartbeat away," and, in explaining the advice both candidates are getting from their advisers, George Stephanopoulos fretted about "the dilemma for Biden," which given that "we expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered."

So there's the early media line: Biden will be the victim of attacks from Palin and must figure out how to counter those unfair attacks.

In the lead story, reporter Kate Snow did not cite any poll number about how "most Americans don't think" Palin is ready to be President, but she did highlight how "our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Gibson's tease at the top of the October 2 World News aired in the EDT and CDT time zones: "Tonight, great expectations. Sarah Palin and Joe Biden tonight have their only debate as a new poll shows most Americans don't think she's ready to be a heartbeat away."

From Snow's story: "....Palin's challenge tonight is clear. Aides acknowledge she has little room for error. Our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President. But a top Palin aide today called the debate an opportunity to turn that around...."

Gary Langer's ABCNews.com summary, of the ABC News/Washington Post survey released Thursday morning, explained the poll finding to which Gibson had referred:

....Just 35 percent say Palin has the experience it takes to serve effectively as president, down a dozen points since early September; 60 percent think not, up 15. And just 46 percent think Palin "understands complex issues," while 49 percent think she doesn't -- a poor assessment on this most basic qualification...

That's online at: abcnews.go.com

The relevant portion of the Gibson-Stephanopoulos exchange:

GIBSON: You talk to the two camps all the time. What do they say in the Democratic side that Biden's approach will be and what do the Republicans say the Sarah Palin approach will be?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, kind of mirror image advice. For Sarah Palin, loosen up. Don't see these tightly scripted, somewhat robotic, frozen performances we've seen in some of these interviews. For Joe Biden, button down. Control yourself, restrain yourself. Don't take the bait when Sarah Palin comes after you.
Here's the dilemma for Biden. We expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered.

Student: I'm for 'Expertise,' Matthews:
So You're for Obama!

On the 5pm EDT edition of Thursday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews ventured out into the crowd of students on hand for the vice presidential debate at Washington University to see what they were looking for in a candidate. When one student responded, "I'd like a display of knowledge and expertise," Matthews interjected: "So you're on the Obama side, right?" Matthews then asked a different student, in an apparent shot at Sarah Palin, if a "candidate for Vice President should be able to get into Washington University?"

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following exchanges occurred on the October 2 first edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS TO STUDENT: What are you looking for tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I'd like, I'd like a display of knowledge and expertise.
MATTHEWS: So you're on the Obama side, right?
[APPLAUSE]

...

MATTHEWS TO DIFFERENT STUDENT: Do you think the Vice President of the United States, the candidate for Vice President should be able to get into Washington University?
[APPLAUSE]

Late Show's 'Top Ten Surprises in the
Vice Presidential Debate'

From the October 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Surprises in the Vice Presidential Debate." Late Show home page: lateshow.cbs.com

10. First question for Palin: "Why in the hell do you keep agreeing to talk to Katie Couric?"

9. As a welcome to the candidates, St. Louis constructed a special "arch to nowhere"

8. To even the playing field, Biden wore stilettos

7. A confused John McCain kept stumbling on stage asking where he was

6. Most of discussion was what to do about the Mets

5. Palin bore a striking resemblance to Mitt Romney in a wig

4. Only thing the candidates agreed on? The Late Show Fun Facts book: 240 pages of jam-packed hilarity!

3. Biden's insistence that from his house in Delaware he can see Russia

2. You could hear Hillary's muffled screams from the parking lot

1. Palin mentioned bombing Iran, Pakistan and Tina Fey


Brian Williams of NBC News is scheduled to be a guest on Friday's Late Show.

-- Brent Baker