Tuesday morning quarterbacking: Why is everybody so mad about Palin and Gustav coverage today?
As the GOP begins to rev up what looks to be a full-on resumption of their convention, starting today, the carping about media coverage this week has already gotten off to an expected bitter start.
Some political junkies have criticized national news anchors for peeling away from St. Paul Monday to await Gustav in New Orleans, saying the storm could have been covered by remote. This neat bit of Tuesday morning quarterbacking ignores the fact that no one knew when coverage plans were made just how bad the storm would be or how well New Orleans would respond to it. It also ignores the fact that the Republicans offered little more than perfunctory activities Monday, themselves wary of looking as if they were celebrating as the Gulf Coast drowned.
Fortunately, Gustav weakened before landfall and the city's levees held. But the uncertainty of local officials should give everyone pause -- the fact that the Crescent City didn't endure another horrific disaster seems more a result of luck than anything else. And reporters had to be there, in case luck went the other way (though I haven't gotten any press releases from the networks yet, Katie Couric said she was headed back to St. Paul today and I expect all the major anchors to follow suit if the RNC offers a regular slate of activities).
The other complaint regards the treatment of GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, particularly news that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. While the McCain campaign is blaming rumors in the blogosphere for forcing them to reveal Bristol Palin's state, Radar Online is saying a story by the National Enquirer forced their hand, revealing the name of the teenage father, Levi Johnston.
So some folks are dinging national media for talking about the story, saying it's unfair to focus on the teenage daughter of a candidate -- even though that candidate brought her entire family onstage with her to accept McCain's job offer, citing her experience as a mother and wife as qualifications.
My fave moment on TV yesterday had nothing to do with Gustav coverage; CNN's Campbell Brown took apart a McCain representative by simply asking what decision Palin made as head of Alaska's National Guard that qualified as foreign policy experience.
For a media biased toward conflict and scandal -- which is the real bias that has tilted coverage of this election -- Palin's growing list of problematic background issues will make for lots of juicy reporting to come.