October 2, 2008

"Gotcha Journalism"

Posted: 02:19 PM ET

What is “gotcha” journalism?

I keep hearing this term used on the campaign trail, and I wonder what people mean by it. As a journalist I believe my job is to ask tough questions. But apparently, if they are too tough, or the person just doesn’t know the answer, or the answer is the wrong answer, the person can claim a case of “gotcha” journalism. I guess once someone claims the reporter was out to “getcha” then the focus becomes the horrible, unethical, and mud-slinging reporter, and not the candidate.
The “gotcha” excuse was used recently when I asked Gov. Sarah Palin’s spokesperson, Meg Stapleton why the governor only seems to talk about the one bridge to nowhere that she killed, when there are two bridges to nowhere, and Palin supports the second bridge being built.

Here is the exchange:

Boudreau: “When Gov. Palin is talking about the bridge to nowhere, we are thinking, she killed that bridge. But everyone locally is telling us there has always been two bridges. I mean, it’s always been referred to as the two bridges to nowhere here.”

Stapleton: “I think the media coined the bridge to nowhere.”

Boudreau: “Congress coined it.”

Stapleton: “No, the media coined the whole bridge to nowhere, and the whole focus on the bridge, has been the Gravina Island Bridge.”

Before we get to the alleged “gotcha” moment, let me give you a few details about these two bridges.

One was the Gravina Island Bridge that would connect residents in Ketchikan, to their neighboring island, where the airport is located.

The other bridge, would connect Anchorage, to Point MacKenzie, population 269, an outlying community of Wasilla, the governor’s home town.

Both of these bridges were coined “bridges to nowhere” during Congressional debates after a public outcry that the bridges symbolized wasteful government spending.

Gov. Palin killed the planned Ketchikan bridge. And she has been very vocal about how she redirected the funding for that bridge, claiming she told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

But Gov. Palin seems to have left out the fact that she continues to support the other bridge. I asked Meg Stapleton why the Governor chose to leave that little detail out of her stump speech. Here is Stapleton’s response:

Stapleton: “The national media may just be learning about it, but she has said this. The national media has focused on one [bridge] because it was perhaps the easiest one to talk about.

Boudreau: “It’s the one she continues to talk about.”

Stapleton: “It’s the one that Ketchikan residents have brought up because they felt it was sorta a gotcha moment.”

Aha. The “gotcha” moment. So here’s my question: Where is the line between a tough, but fair question, and “gotcha” journalism? And, have journalists crossed the line in questioning Gov. Palin and her record?

Filed under: Abbie Boudreau • Uncategorized

Share this on:
Courtney/Pennsylvania   October 2nd, 2008 6:34 pm ET

Some media are saying that we voters are too harsh on some of the candidates. I want to say it’s not because most are vicious people however, with all that is going on in the World, we realize that the next team in the White House for THIS term is maybe more important than ever and we need true on the ball leadership Teams that can snap-to-it, at a moment’s notice and know what they are doing and not make a situation worse. We cannot afford anything less. Sometimes people have to be harsh in order to be heard. Most of America is waking up now.

Bill S   October 2nd, 2008 7:20 pm ET

Come on Gov. Palin shes in way over her head McCain has done a real disservice to this lady
Gov. Palin is plain just not ready. Maybe in another 10 years she possibly could be but McCain is 72 and the odds are not in his favor of even going the full term. The Media is going to be tough thsts is there job to inform us on who is who and whats up! I say Bravo to the news Media

Christopher Seattle   October 2nd, 2008 7:25 pm ET

When did the nation start accepting such gross mediocrity on the part of our elected officials?
We should expect the people running our country to be well spoken, well informed people. That is their job. That is what we pay them for.
The term "gotcha reporting" is marketing at its best. It is designed to deflect responsibility or accountability of professional politicians.
With the popularity of Fox News I feel some Americans have become desensitized to the difference between opinion and real journalism. I would ask all responsible journalists to accept the challenge of the "gotcha question". Press the politicians, show the nation their true colors. The government should fear the press. The press' greatest responsibility is keeping government accountable to the people.

Yana   October 2nd, 2008 7:28 pm ET

“Gotcha” journalism- a term used when someone does not want to or can not answer questions from the media based on lack of knowledge, self incrimination, don't want to state a position or hiding something; a way of distracting attention from the facts; scare tactic for the media to back off; to insinuate media bias for a specific outcome.

“Gotcha” journalism

Yana, AL

Tony   October 2nd, 2008 7:32 pm ET

It's only 'gotcha moment's" when you can't answer a question that you should have an answer to, before the 'gotcha moments' it was called 'sexiest' to ask Gov. Palin tough questions.

Scott   October 2nd, 2008 7:33 pm ET

You know, I think the idea about 'gotcha' journalism is a matter of perspective. Journalists are out to get facts so they investigate, probe and prod. If you know the answers, then you see it as a testing process perhaps somewhate uncomfortable but part of making yourself public by running for an office to serve the public. The other person who does not know the answers and wants to avoid showing that blames, 'gotcha' journalism. I think that McCain's bunch have been playing Gotcha Politics, and that's Sarah Palin's speciality. Kinda funny. The presses job is to expose people who are lying and to probe the depths of what people know for the sake of public information.

MITA   October 2nd, 2008 7:33 pm ET

I love Sarah Palin/ McCain. The media does not respect her as she should be respected. The media treat her with so much disregard and dismisses her. She is treated very unfairly, that it makes my stomach turn. Why? A strong independent woman, with morals, values, a family, head of the national guard gov. of Alaska, and always with a great smile. If it Mrs. Clinton, people will be falling all over themselves. Palin has more experience than this obama fella. All this hype about obama "like he is the great white hope" don't think so. Take for instance, the View (very bias,) They grilled Mccain, like he was the devil, and when obama was on the ladies were telling him how sexy he was, what?!?!

AND I'M A Pennsylvania DEM. VOTING FOR MCCAIN/PALIN, GOD BLESS AMERICA AND KEEP oBAMA OUT OF OFFICE, for the sake of all americans!!!!!

Ken   October 2nd, 2008 7:34 pm ET

This is a pathetic attempt to justify a bias based media that clearly favor the Obama campaign. You missed the whole point. It's not that journalists shouldn't ask the hard questions, but the way in which they do it. You can't say that the "people" deserve harsh questions possed to candidates, but then only carry out such "need" to one side of the political realm. Can you honestly tell me one interview, nationally televised, interview of Barrack Obama that had "harsh" questions possed by the journalist conducted the interview. By all means, I am in favor of asking hard questions to all political candidates. So far, it has been a one sided affair. Hard, harsh, vicious questions...whatever you want to call it, are being applied to Sarah Palin. Where is this "need" that the people so "deserved" of the same treatment to Barrack Obama? Please, do you job as journalist and stop trying to justify your bias by being the "people".

Ram Riva - Calexico CA   October 2nd, 2008 7:39 pm ET

When a politician is asked a question that he or she doesn't know, and is going to look bad on camera or an a paper, they throw themselves to the ground and yell, foul ! ! ! ...
Passing all the burden on the reporter...
Only mediocre people use it as a escape resource, exactly what McCain did, defending Mrs Palin, when asked one of the so many questions she doesn't know anything about...
She should be on Jaywalk all stars....
God help America if she's the next Vicepresident and potentially the next President of the United States of America...
What do you want for high office, the best person this land can provide, or a gimmick for a politician that an over the hill politician is using to complete his last task in life....
Remember Sen McCain is 72 years old with a history of cancer...
In southern California everything is set and decided...
When is the rest of the country going to join us in supporting Barack Obama for President of the United States of America....

Aaron - Seattle   October 2nd, 2008 7:39 pm ET

These "gotcha" questions are absolute malarky! How are we ever to know anything about the candidates if our media is not capable of asking the really tough questions. Just because Caribou Barbie can't answer some very simple questions, ones that you would think a candidate should be prepared for, doesn't mean the media is out to get her, and especially doesn't mean that old man mud slinger has to rush in. If anything this poses a big ethical dilemna in our democracy. If we are to have a freedom of the press and freedom of information, threatening the press with these "gotcha" accusations is really just a backhanded atempt of censorship which point undermines the entire point of democracy.
To the Press: Ask the hard questions! Ask them, the american public is fickle and with in 2 months time no one will care about "gotcha" questions. It is all just a fabrication by the GOP to try and stave off the inevitable.

Anthony   October 2nd, 2008 7:40 pm ET

It's just another tactic candidates use to doge a question. If they feel they are being bullied or pushed around our of their comfort zone (God forbid we question our politicians right?) they resort to playing the "gotcha" card, make the reporter look like an unethical bully for asking tough legitimate questions.

I applaud your courage to ask these questions to the candidates. We the citizens are after all their employer, they work for US, I think we have every damn right to throw tough questions at them.

Greg in NY   October 2nd, 2008 7:40 pm ET

"Gotcha" Journalism? What a joke!! Come on already, these people are not running for middle school president. We are talking about the United States of America. I hope and pray that journalists ask the candidates tough questions because the American people, who are going to be voting for them, deserve to know where the candidates stand and how they think and use their problem solving skills. The whole McCain campaign is nothing more than a bunch of whiners. Would John and Sarah like some cheese to go with their whine? Maybe if they actually had positions on the issues then the media would have something else to pay attention to besides all of the lies and gaffes that keep coming out of that campaign.

Crystal   October 2nd, 2008 7:42 pm ET

I honestly do not think that journalists have crossed the line. Since we "Joe six pack" Americans work 40 or more hours a week, raise families, work while going through college, etc.; we simply dont have the time to fully investigate candidates. Therefore we have journalists. Journalists whose job is to investigate candidates.

Unfortunately for Gov. Palin, her advisors didnt allow her to take part in the every day talk show circuit interviews that every other candidate has done. So she ended up with a few interviews that had a lot of pressure attached to them, they were America's only chance at hearing from her on the issues... Talk about being put under a microscope!

How does Gotcha Journalism supposedly work into all of this? When you are unknown to most Americans, and the only one that the media is covering, you are also goeing to be the primary target of tough questions... in such an environment, its easier to play the victim.

When under that kind of scrutiny people make mistakes, unfortunately for Gov. Palin her advisors havent been looking out for her. I dont believe that she is a stupid woman, I just think she has been put in a hard situation and wasnt expecting the overnight crazieness that occured. I read an article regarding previous interviews she has had where she easily spoke of supreme court rulings, etc. Perhaps she is under too much pressure. The American people had time to get to know all the other candidates, they only have a few months to get to know Sarah Palin!

I am voting Obama/Biden because I know our country will be in good hands and I have had enough time to weigh my options between Obama and McCain.

Joshua   October 2nd, 2008 7:42 pm ET

Apparently, any time a journalist makes a point, they think it's irrelevant and brush it aside as a news-media-frame-job. It"s insulting to hear people claim that the inability to answer a question on what newspaper you read is really just a "sound bite" and that the journalist meant to do that.

On the other hand, Charlie Gibson's Bush Doctrine question may have been a little cruel in that accusing her of being unfamiliar with the terminology is focusing on the wrong part of her canned/spliced response jumbles. But that comment opened up the floodgates of her gibberish, and the campaign has to do something to make it appear insignificant.

Larry Kraus Farmersville Illinois   October 2nd, 2008 7:54 pm ET

if thats gotcha journalism then all of the questions to all involved should be gotcha journalism.

John Mack, Fairway, KS   October 2nd, 2008 7:56 pm ET

It seems a gotcha question is any that the person being asked cannot answer without spinning some line of bull. Therefore, every question posed to Palin is a gotcha question. Of course, posed to any of the other candidates, they are softballs.

It was completely irresponsible for McCain to offer the VP position to her. She obviously was not in an informed position to offer a proper response. She must have thought it was just like running for governor, just a little bigger. That analogy might have worked if she was running for governor of California or New York, but Alaska is tiny.

David   October 2nd, 2008 8:02 pm ET

I don't think there is alike "gotcha" journalism. Sarah Palin is an ill-informed VP pick and is suffering for her own lack of knowledge about the issues that matter to the American people. Jornalists no matter what their political leanings may be are always hoping to get a good quote or a good TV moment.

Sarah Palin is not being treated unfairly by anyone except John McCain himself and the Republicans and their supports who are blind to the fact that Palin is way out of her league.

I'm neither a Republican or a Democrat because I live in Canada and have no say in the election. But one thing I know for certain is Sarah Palin is either way out of her league or this is a complete set up by the McCain so that she can shine in tonight's debate against Biden. And that is not so far-fetched at all. Play her down and make her look "dumb" and then "whamo" she shines during the debate and "wows" everyone with her new found knowledge and ability to discuss the issues intelligently and formulate answers that make sense.

But to answer your question I do not think there is anything such as "Gotcha" journalism.

Caruso, Baton Rouge,Louisiana   October 2nd, 2008 8:04 pm ET

I believe that therm "gotcha" journalism, is an excuse used by the Republican canidates. Anyone running for office of this level should be able to give an educated answer to basically any relevant question asked by the media, and also the voters.

There are NO "gotcha" moments.

Got it?

emmanuel davies   October 2nd, 2008 8:04 pm ET

politicians use the word "gotcha" to subdue journalist into letting them have a free ride. They use it to invade tough and serious questions that needs real answers. it's called "the spin". Americans are not fools. keep it up with more tougher and serious question.

SS, Sacramento   October 2nd, 2008 8:04 pm ET

it's funny how, each week, the McCain campaign comes up w/ a new diversion to talk about...instead of the everyday issues that American faces..."gotcha journalism"<~~~ plz LMAO!!!

here's the Sarah Palin's "gotcha" resume:
– Bush Doctrine, what?
– I can see Russia from my house?
– Putin flys over for dinner all the time?
– John McCain has a record, of what?
– Lets attack Pakistan, who cares what McCain think!!!
– What does the Supreme Court do? guess nothing!!!
– I'm ill about the $700B Bailout...dont know why!!!

how many more "gotcha" moments do we need to see...before it's too late...and she has the nuclear codes in her hand...thinking their Lotto numbers.

i want someone to ask her, what she thinks about the "nuclear codes".

Charlie   October 2nd, 2008 8:05 pm ET

With the number of questionable judgments that Gov. Palin has glossed over with her apocryphal explanations, perhaps a little more ‘gotcha’ would serve. She didn’t ban one book in Wasilla. She told us that. She asked the librarian a hypothetical question and fired her the next day. But she really didn’t fire her. She was just testing and hired her back. She continues to sound like a school kid claiming the dog ate her homework.

Jean   October 2nd, 2008 8:09 pm ET

I think this "gotcha journalism" accusation started with Gov. Palin who seemed totally incapable of answering to most of the questions posed by the journalists. Her replies to the questions were always a long round about "answers to nowhere."

John-TN   October 2nd, 2008 8:10 pm ET

The line between a tough but fair question and gotcha journalism is largely imaginary, and drawn by people who are supporting the person being questioned. People claim "gotcha" journalism as a kind of "cop out," and especially when the person simply does not do well during the interview.

I am personally shocked that people are calling the college student who asked Palin the Waziristan question a "gotcha" journalist. In all reality, Pakistan-US relations is something that Palin should know a little bit about. Furthermore, he was a voter who simply wanted a question answered. That's not gotcha journalism, that responsible democracy.

Palin has been treated fairly. As I wrote to Rick Sanchez earlier today, if Palin wants to sit in the proverbial "big seat," she needs to act like it. That means simply to stop crying, or allowing the McCain staff to complain, when she does poorly in an interview in which questions are asked that she should know at least something about.

Dana Johnson Kensington Maryland   October 2nd, 2008 8:12 pm ET

Abbie, There are many tactics used in Journalism to reach some semblance of truth. Hard questions that don't give the subject a chance to get off the hook are one. These aren't Gotcha, just tough. Then there are questions that trap the subject into disclosing something they were trying to hide. Gotcha? maybe, but who cares. Especially in the case where the person being questioned is running for high office, They have NO right to hide anything that may influence our judgment as voters on their qualifications.
Then there are "gotcha" questions that are designed to make the person look bad even if the actual answers or subject are inconsequential. Truth isn't the issue here, only bias, but you know what, I almost never see this come from the journalist side. Talk show hosts, maybe, but not journalists.
Keep up the good work. I expect my candidates to be able to handle it.

R, Rogers   October 2nd, 2008 8:12 pm ET

What is with this double standard of treating Palin as an equal, but wait... she's a woman, a perceived delicate flower that you can't ask the tough questions. I am a woman and I am sick of how the McCain campaign has used her gender to manipulate this campaign! Of course America wants the reporters to ask the tough questions that we essentially do not have the opportunity to ask. This election is MUCH bigger than Palin, McCain, or Obama/Biden for that matter; it's about our economy. America cannot forget the mistake of voting for a C student president b/c they could relate to him; Bush was someone that they could have a beer with. Oh PLEASE, where has this gotten us??? Please ask the tough questions, it's NOT gotcha journalism, it's simply the information needed to make the right decisions!

Ven Holalkere   October 2nd, 2008 8:14 pm ET

I did watch your interview/discussion and it was fair journalism from any perspective. Unfortunately, our country is divided and the rising of neoconservatives in the late 90s with George W, Cheney and others drove this divide to polarization point until the war in Iraq and Afghanistan turned sour and the economy tanked last week. It was the neocons who spent billions to make the word "Liberal" demeaning and almost dirty. The same habit continues and invented the word "gotcha" when their chips are down. We, in this country should realize that, "liberalism" and "conservatism" are part of personal philosophy and make up of every human being, democrat, republican or independent. But, Sarah Palin scares me and thanks to the new word "gotcha".

Jennifer Hames   October 2nd, 2008 8:15 pm ET

I have lost all respect for the media of our country and I do not have confidence in them any longer. You media people that have made it as far as television are supposed to be "educated" people. What is wrong with you people anyway that you always and I mean always pull out the most negative points about people??? Surely you are not taught this in journalism school. Why don't you consider change and I mean real change!!! STOP BULL-DOZING OVER PEOPLE JUST BECAUSE YOU HAPPEN TO BE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE HOLDING A MICROPHONE. STOP TAKING ADVANTAGE AND FINDING JUST THE FAULTS. Katie Couric made a fool of herself and only showed to the world her true colors in her interview with Sarah Palin. She had a smug know it all look upon her face and she knew exactly what she was doing because it is obvious that she is for Obama and she was trying to make Sarah Palin look like a fool. I will never have any respect for Ms. Couric again. She may be the highest paid anchorwoman in America but it is meaningless because Sarah Palin has more character in the tip of her finger than does Ms. Couric in all of her glory. Furthermore you dear media could not wait to pounce upon Sarah Palin's particular faith. I believe you dear media are part to blame for many more crimes because you cannot wait to tell us all the gorey details. Watching the news is discusting because the majority of your stories only pulls out every evil thing you can find in our world, you find nothing good. I wish that you would consider that this world is also your world that you must live in and yes your words do have power. A very wise person once said "the power of death and life is in the tongue." Stop taking advantage of "freedom of speech" if all you can to is to derail someone that is really trying to make our world a better place. Try it dear media, try to find something good to tell us about and even you might make the world a bit better!

Andrew Simon   October 2nd, 2008 8:18 pm ET

The entire concept of "gotcha" journalism is nonsense. Good jounralists are supposed to ask tough questions so that voters have a sense of where a politician (Palin) stands on a particular issue (ie. Do we follow and attack insurgergents into Pakistan?). The fact that the candidate either answers the question in a way that differs from the head of the ticket or simply can't answer the question (ie. position on the bailout or how living in Alaska provides foreign policy experience) is instructive to the voter. These are good, valid questions!

Richard/Renteria   October 2nd, 2008 8:18 pm ET

Duh? Televised News (not so much print/but still have the same agenda) has sponsors. As long as you tune in CNN/Fox/MSNBC/and all others are doing their job. That is the getcha. When it comes to money everything is fair game. The real conversation I want to hear is when the powers that be get an anchor to cave in and ask dumb questions because I am too dumb to tune to something else. It makes the world go round. Don't ask ?'s you already know what the end result is or going to be.

Ben Dover   October 2nd, 2008 8:33 pm ET

What a shock...."gotcha" journalism being reported on, and the ONLY frame of reference this "reporter" could use is the Republican(s).

Look, Im no schill for my party, man have they had some issues of late. YES, Im ashamed at how Bush has never heard of the Presidential power of V E T O !!

BUT, ask yourself if Hillary were still in this mix, would SHE get the same media treatment that Palin has been getting? If I need to answer that publicly, then we already know the answer.....

This methodology of "journalism" would be far more credible if both sides were being questioned equally. "But Ben, this is Palin's doing! Biden has nothing to do with this" ...STFU already, you know how I mean. Such as questioning Biden on his "forced landing" in his memory confused with Hillary's perchance?

To answer the rhetorical question at the end of this nonsence, journalists have crossed the line separating both camps.....Prob is Abbie here and numerous others have crossed OVER from Obama's side to ask this Q of Palin...this "tough but fair" question....

.....turn it around 180, then try again.


Roland   October 2nd, 2008 8:41 pm ET

The Media's duties to the society is to educate, entertain and to inform. Today, we find more journalists in gossiping, spreading false news, and on assignment to uproot and pull down people hard-earned careers. You don't make a name by simply destroying someone's future. You won't like it if it were you.

This should never be. If every sector of our society do their jobs faithfully and honestly, we will be better off as a people.

Thank you

Larry-mn..   October 2nd, 2008 8:45 pm ET

The biggest thing i am wondering about is why is it that all we do is go after gotcha moments or gaffs as they say.. If so then why isnt it done fairly with all that are running for the offices. I know there are many many moments that Obama has that are questionable but the media acts like he is untouchable..,, like if they investigate him. right away someone would scream racism. Just do it fair for all.

Marcy/Minneapolis   October 2nd, 2008 8:48 pm ET

I honestly do not believe Governor Palin is being asked tough enough questions. With the office that she seeks, and being a fairly unknown politician, she should be expected to fully respond to the question of experience. The more we know about her, the less prepared she appears. I think the media is being overly cautious because the McCain camp has set them up to appear sexist if they ask tough questions. It is a danger–I am not a supporter, but as I watch the interviews, I almost feel sorry for her; she looks like she's in way over her head. I possibly could feel sorry for her if not for the fact that there is so much at stake. I agree with you, Ms. Boudreau–it's your job to ask those questions. I also do not think John McCain is a maverick–I think he's a compulsive gambler; he gambled on Sarah Palin, he gambled on his reaction to the financial crisis, and neither gamble seems to be paying off for him in the long run. I shudder to think how he might wager if he becomes President.

Blaine M. Taylor   October 2nd, 2008 8:51 pm ET

Yes, you folks in the media are soooo maligned and no one knows but media types. Give me a break, your a pack of dogs on fresh meat and your hatred of Gov. Palin is clear to everyone but you.

Bill, N.M.   October 2nd, 2008 8:53 pm ET

This is absolutely crazy of course the media should ask tough questions, when the media doesn't we get into a war like Iraq (no WMD's) It seems as if the media and congress don't want to do their jobs.

Bob   October 2nd, 2008 8:53 pm ET

Deceit, misinformation, taking words and phrases out of context, pandering to people's fears, personal attacks on someone who disagrees with you, twisting the truth, deliberately evading the question, lying, negative generalizations, playing the victim are among the tools of the Republican campaign. Everyone is fair game for them. The candidates, their supporters, the media, anyone or anything that is perceived as a threat or impediment to achieving their goal. Well, if you think they're going to change their course or tactics, forget it. McCain's numbers aren't declining because "Life's not fair" as he played the victim today, it's because the American public who has supported him is finally beginning to admit his campaign is a sham, his Vice Presidential candidate is a danger to the country and Americans are demanding the best leaders and will not settle for less.

I expect there may be some negative comments about what I've written. Well, just so you know, I've voted Republican for years. No more. Enough is enough. I love this country too much to see it go through more years of decline.

Bill   October 2nd, 2008 8:53 pm ET

I think as the same tough questions are asked equally without regard to the reporters personal viewpoints, then that is acceptable. It seems pretty clear to the average person what some members of the media are attempting to do

Patricia Saul   October 2nd, 2008 8:54 pm ET

Some people say that the Vice-President really isn't an important position. I feel that for the most part that may be true. It is in the other incredible instance that it is the most important position on the ticket; the instance where with zero preparation, in the middle of a horrific incident, the Vice-President has to step up and become the President. Think of it as the relief pitcher called up with no outs and the bases loaded. That is when everyone in the country and the world are looking to see if America will stand or fall.

Steve   October 2nd, 2008 8:54 pm ET

I don't think it's the "tough" question, but the glaring disparity between "tough" questions aimed at Palin, and the complete lack thereof directed toward Obama/Biden. I'm an attorney. I received the highest grade in my Constitutional Law class in law school. I keep myself updated on the Court's decisions. When Couric threw out that question, even I had to stop and think. If I had been in the chair, it would have been an uncomfortably long pause before I could have given a couple of case names and framed a response to the question. I have watched a large number of interviews given by Obama, and I cannot say that I've seen a question of that type directed at him.

F.Charlene Tribble   October 2nd, 2008 8:55 pm ET

A "GOTCHA MOMENT with Sarah Palin is when she says something....the answer doesn't make sense and she keeps talking until she gets to the "GOTCHA MOMENT"....or in other words she has got her foot stuck in her mouth and can't decide how to get it out....tonights debate should be interesting!

April   October 2nd, 2008 9:04 pm ET


Who knows anymore? I thought that was a legitimate question you asked her spokesperson.

I'm glad the last part of the Katie Couric interview showed her asking the same questions to Biden and Palin. Where was the gotcha there? And off to the debates. I'm pulling for her tonight. I hope she does well.

Kevin   October 2nd, 2008 9:05 pm ET

I don't get it. To what exactly is "gotcha" in gotcha journalism referring? John McCain accused Katie Couric of "gotcha" journalism when he sat in on one of Palin's interviews with her. I saw all of the interviews. Some of Palin's answers to Couric were barely coherent English. And I don't think I am being harsh saying that. That is simply stating fact. The answers that were coherent were long run on sentences that jumped around aimlessly. Couric simply had to ask the same questions repeatedly because Palin wasn't answering them. So, i guess "Gotcha Journalism" is expecting an actual answer to a tough question.

Steve   October 2nd, 2008 9:12 pm ET

The difference between "gotcha" journalism and fair journalism has been so skewed by this election it's hard to tell.

All I can tell so far is that it's not fair to ask Obama hard questions, but McCain and Plain are fair game for everything.

Yuvraj   October 2nd, 2008 9:33 pm ET

It seems to me, now that the republicans cannot effortlessly bully their way around, they have started to resort to usage of this funny catch phrase. I've heard a bunch of people say it on TV, and all of them republican; Its like whenever a hard question is thrown at them, they balk and scream foul quoting McCain's vocabulary. This is still USA and the press is still free, what's wrong with a probing question? If you can't handle that, how can you handle foreign situations where a simple gaffe can lead to misunderstandings. Let the learned reader also find out more about the republican candidates, who although are patriotic, can cause more trouble to USA than people from outside the nation who bear ill will. Intelligent politicians have never shirked from probing questions.

Virginia   October 2nd, 2008 9:36 pm ET

On the vp debate, is anyone going to make palin answer a question she is being asked or continue to let her give her planned speeches.

Ian   October 2nd, 2008 10:23 pm ET

Great topic! I believe the reason programs like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are so popular is their form of “gotcha” journalism. They are willing to show the corruption and hypocrisy in our nation. I encourage every journalist to be a "gotcha" journalist.

Camille   October 2nd, 2008 10:27 pm ET

I have to say Palin did better than the interviews but she made some mistakes. Palin did not answer her questions and had many run on sentences. The biggest mistake came when Palin said that Isreal would not have another Holocoust. The Holocoust occurred in Europe with the Nazis. That is a big mistake! Biden did very well, he made good points and attacked McCain. This makes me certain I am voting for Obama and Biden.

P.S. If a president or vice president says heck or doggonit on national television I will leave the country.

Alan   October 2nd, 2008 10:38 pm ET

I think before McCain/Palin can complain about "gotcha" journalism, Senator McCain should explain why he took advantage of such journalism and apologize for it... grabbing General Wes Clark's phrase out of context, after Clark directly answered a loaded question from Bob Schieffer. Fred Thompson said nearly the same thing at the GOP nominating convention, but somehow nobody was offended. Hmmmm.

Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

General Wesley Clark: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

Mark   October 2nd, 2008 10:39 pm ET

This is silly, there has been no "gotchas", just questions that she couldnt answer. It is that clear and that simple.

Look, Im Canadian, I dont get to vote, I dont have a bias on this one, Ive tried to watch both sides. IF i were American, she would make me nervous bcause of both her positions and lack of depth.


Eve F   October 2nd, 2008 10:59 pm ET

Was it me or did she not answer any of her questions directly? With her comment as far as being in touch with the people's issues, why did she mention everyone in her family but her pregnant daughter is she not proud of her as well, isn't teenage pregnancy an issue of the PEOPLE?

Stacy   October 2nd, 2008 10:59 pm ET

A journalist's job is to question, reveal and clarify matters. A politician's job is to listen to the people and serve the public. Politicians are human as well; they make mistakes, change their viewpoints, or have no knowledge of certain issues. When that does happen, I expect the politician to have the audacity to face up and admit it, as oppose to blaming it on "gotcha" journalism. Too much is at stake here. Sometimes, we really need to grow up.

Scot in NH   October 2nd, 2008 11:05 pm ET

I've been suspect of all media as they question Palin, primarily because of the unfairly publicized liberal leanings of the news industry. I've worked as a journalist in the newspaper industry, and know the drive to get the break on the story, or to get the interviewee to admit something unknown to the public. So being too harsh or finding a "gottcha moment" is part of the game. I believe that pressing for answers to the "bridges to nowhere" is legitimate, and good tenacity. Where it crosses over the line is when time is unnecessarily spent on the small stuff, like what newspapers or magazines are read. Why not take an issue or news event and ask Palin to take a stance on it and defend it. This shows character in the candidate and professionalism in the media. The other stuff is "fluff journalism" meant to trip up and make fun of the candidates. The media have a responsibility to pull information from the interviewee that helps to educate the public, not create fodder for laughs in the newsroom.

Yolanda/SC   October 2nd, 2008 11:08 pm ET

Well I feel when you do an interview you should prepare to do your best for the worst of questions. Its obvious Sarah Palin and Stapleton were not prepared for any interviews. Too bad too sad. We the American people were fooled in 2 elections with Bush, we will NOT be fooled this time around. Abbie, I love what you have been doing.

Kenan   October 2nd, 2008 11:10 pm ET

We can't possibly be critical enough! Of any of the candidates! We're talking about the leadership our our country and need to get serious. No question is off-limits. These four people are able to take hard questions...let's learn everything we can. If there is something there to criticize, we'll criticize. If there is something there to praise, we'll praise! Let's know our leaders...all of them.

Lynn (Southern Indiana Democrat)   October 2nd, 2008 11:12 pm ET

What does Sarah Palin mean by "gotcha journalism"? I believe it must mean that she makes some inane, stupid, remark and we all say "gotcha".

She is not (nor may never be) ready to be Vice President. If McCain thought his picking a woman would work, it shows how far out of touch he really is. We women don't vote for gender. We make our decisions based on the issues.

Watching the debate, I was particularly turned off by Sarah's constant winking at the camera, her trying to be folksy, and looking at her notes. We've already seen the real Sarah Palin and that's in Katie Couric's interview. The Sarah Palin we saw tonight was told what to say but they should have told her when to say it. She continually did not answer the questions but would instead go off in a completely different direction.

Veronica   October 2nd, 2008 11:20 pm ET

The McCain Campaign is trying to protect Palin from tough questions. It worked for Bush so they are counting on working for Palin. With the Bush the media for a while stop doing its job asking the hard questions that needed to be asked and look where it got us. The Republicans would love more than anything to have no one question them so they can continue destroying the country. Keep up the good job and keep asking the tough questions y Palin can handle it she should not be running for VP.

Judy Stuart   October 2nd, 2008 11:22 pm ET

I think there's a huge difference between a tough but fair question and "gotcha" journalism. "Gotcha" journalism is asking questions deliberately designed to make the interviewee look stupid. Or framed in a way to make the interviewer appear obviously more intelligent and informed than the interviewee. Or a question that has multiple possibilities, with the journalist pushing for the "one right answer." Or questions that are just trivial.

Besides his questions, Charles Gibson's body language shouted out his intention to "gotcha". Katy Couric was less obvious but guilty as well. They weren't honestly trying to get meaningful input from Gov. Palin; they wanted to try to make her look dumb.

It's not too hard to tell the difference, and a professional journalist sure ought to know.

Cindy   October 2nd, 2008 11:28 pm ET

What I have seen in the media are fair questions about any politician’s record: What did she do as governor of a state, what does she read, what does she support, how does she have foreign policy experience. These are not esoteric questions about tiny details long gone by—these are fair questions for a candidate for a national office. It seems like every time the media questions Palin on her record or her understanding of important national issues, the McCain camp claims media bias. Their claims of gotcha journalism are a smoke screen to hide behind—you all have to be nice to our VP candidate and don’t ask her any of your nasty relevant questions. Continue to ask the tough questions of all the candidates and state upfront when answers are less than truthful. We deserve no less.

writergirl   October 2nd, 2008 11:30 pm ET

Ok, was she not a journalism major? Palin answered those questions and there was no spin. It is just obvious that this woman is not prepared to be VP and the sad part of it all is thant the GOP camp will not let her give a one on one interview.

Diane Sweigart   October 2nd, 2008 11:40 pm ET

I'm really questioning this "Folksy" type of talk to the People. If Sarah feels that it will make her closer to people I question her decision to do so. Her command of the English language leaves me thinking about her Educational background. A "gotcha" attitude is one of defeat to me because she has not answered the question posed to her and so she blames the Interviewer for a "gotcha" question.
I just cannot see her sitting across the table and giving that "Folksy"
manner of talk to many of Foreign Dignitaries she is going to meet if elected. To me that would be totally unprofessional.

Peggy   October 2nd, 2008 11:42 pm ET

I am naive about a lot of things, but when Gov. Palin said we must fight for our kids and keep freedom alive for them, my first thought was "our kids are DYING for us – older Americans who can't fight in the war. Therefore, who's fighting for who?

Also, I'm confused on a subject. Please help me understand the difference in Foreign Aid and Welfare. In the USA when we help our people (Americans), it's call WELFARE. But, when we help other countries, it's called FOREIGN AID. Maybe we should have other countries send us FOREIGN AID and it would help the starving, homeless, uninsured Americans who so desperately need it!

Dee   October 2nd, 2008 11:50 pm ET

Just watching Couric's facial expressions during her Palin interview compared to interviews with Obama is telling. With Palin she was tight lipped and squinty eyed while with Obama she was wide eyed and grinning like a girl on a date with the captain of the football team.

David V   October 2nd, 2008 11:54 pm ET

Writing as a Libertarian, not a Democrat or Republican.....whether or not the questions of Ms. Palin are fair or not, I see a plain truth that nearly the entire national media give Mr. Obama a big free pass. I would agree that "gotcha" is in the eye of the beholder, but it's pretty clear that the media wants to discredit Ms. Palin, but is not willing to press Mr. Obama because, frankly, the media is Democrat. Perhaps they rationalize their coverage by stating that they are simply giving Mr. Obama the respect he deserves as a candidate for president, but if that's true, why not show Ms. Palin the same level of "respect"?

Go ahead and grill Ms. Palin all you want, but if you're not grilling Mr. Obama in the same fashion, then you're biased, and a biased media is worse than no media at all.

Theresa   October 2nd, 2008 11:55 pm ET

We have repeatedly been told that Palin was well-qualified to be a running mate because of her executive experience. It seems almost an open invitation to take a close scrutiny at that record, then.

There seemed to be disappointingly little emphasis on her background as a leader in the Couric interviews. Perhaps she seemed so woefully unprepared at times because she expected to address that more thoroughly.

If she wasn't so tightly reined away from the media, however, there wouldn't be such scrutiny over the rare opportunities she seems allowed to speak.

gman   October 2nd, 2008 11:59 pm ET

Biden definitely won the depate. His answers seemed self derived and appeared to be those of scholar of history and the american plight. In stark contrast, Gov. Palin's answers seemed to be the result of extreme cramming. I am shocked that no one has yet mentioned how evasive her response was to most of the questions. She diverted a full 30% of her answers back to energy which is "obviously" her strong point. Her comment intimating that it does not really matter what caused global warming is completely idiodic. As Biden pointed out, how do you counter global warming by pursuing an energy policy condones more oil usage. Those who do not study the mistakes of the past are bound or doomed to repeat them. As most pundits put it. I think this was a total victory for Biden and thusly Obama.

Kevin Cassidy   October 2nd, 2008 11:59 pm ET

"Gotcha Journalism" is nothing more than a term used by those who say anything they do not mean, that is incorrect, or that they wish to retract.

They use it when they have no defense and choose not to use Straight Talk to explain or clarify their statement.

They also use it as a diversion to take attention away from their own misgivings.

Gerrt   October 2nd, 2008 11:59 pm ET

I think that If Gov. Palin can't handle gotcha journalism than how is she going to handle a Dictator

jon toguri   October 3rd, 2008 12:13 am ET

Listen all I see is excellent media questions.This is basic to ask the unpopular questions and to grab a great interview.Those who cannot handle the media questions should ask themselves if they are in the right job for themselves.
Also I seems the Republicans are always trying hard to find faults on others and cannot stand it when they get "Gotcha"
You cannot make a person look dumb; the person must be dumb.
Palin may not have meaningful input .

Can you name and discuss any ruling that the supreme court has ruled on?
Palin mumble on and on and could not name one example!
Now is that a difficult question to ask a VP candate?

y.sister   October 3rd, 2008 12:23 am ET

Please recall a job interview you have gone to and after arriving you made an announcement to the job interviewer that you were only going to answer the questions you wanted to answer? It’s a joke!!!! By the way, did you get the job???
First, McCain wanted to cancel his debate because he was feeling a bit overwhelmed and now Paulin wants to ignore issues. Wow, wouldn't it be great if we could all do that??
Look, for those who just want a Republican as president regardless to their credentials or capabilities then the McCain / Palin ticket is your clear choice.
However, if you are looking for a team that has INNOVATIVE IDEAS and has the potential to lead this country on a NEW path, that will strengthen our relationships abroad, and focus on economic, health care, and jobs at home the OBAMA & BIDEN TICKET is the clear choice.

Karen   October 3rd, 2008 12:28 am ET

Obama has been answering tough questions from the press for over a year as he campaigned for President. There has been time for the nation to learn his views and about his ideas. Governor Palin has been in the spotlight for just over a month and hasn't given too many interviews. The media and the nation are interested in what she says and how she responds. Sorry, she should be ready for any question at this point. Sometimes if you don’t know something it is better to just ask to rephrase the question or tell them that you aren't familiar with that (of course you can't use that too much). This is a lot better that rambling on and on about nothing.

But Sarah Palin isn't the reason, I will be voting Obama/Biden. We have to look at the issues and how the Republican party had lead us over the past 8 years. We need a change and I really don't think the Make Believe Maverick team can deliver.

Pio   October 3rd, 2008 12:28 am ET

It's amazing that you folks don't realize how bias the Obamamania media has been. They never ask about the Obama's radical associasions. I wonder if his association with the following individuals does not reflect his so called "good jugment" Rev. Wright, Michael Fleger. Bill Ayers, Tony Resko.

Stephen   October 3rd, 2008 12:32 am ET

A few years ago, the "investigative reporter" became a poular journalistic format. This was when an unsuspecting victim would be setup (maybe with some hidden camera footage) and then was made to squirm in front of the camera. That was a form of "gotcha" journalism.

With the Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric interviews, we are seeing the birth of a new form of "gotcha" journalism. The quiz format. It is similar to the Jay Walking episodes that Leno does. In this format, the question is designed to display a superficial deficiency in the victim's knowledge, not to understand the candidate's position on an issue.

When Charlie Gibson asked Palin what her opinion of the "Bush Doctrine" was, he was really more interested in knowing whether she knew what the phrase "Bush Doctrine" meant, than in understanding what her opinion on pre-emptive attacks was.

When Katie asked Palin which Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with, she was really more interested in knowing whether Palin could recite (on the spot) a list of Supreme Court decisions than in understanding what Palin's view on any particular decision was.

Unfortunately, because of the sensational response that these questions generate, I think that we are just going to see more and more of this type of "gotcha" journalism in the future.

Malby   October 3rd, 2008 12:42 am ET

"Gotcha" journalism means asking an intelligent question and expecting an answer. In English.

Penelope   October 3rd, 2008 1:00 am ET

What people aren't realizing is that Palin gets asked these kinds of questions because she's the one who's an unknown factor in this election.

The press doesn't need to quiz the other candidates because we already know they've all got a firm understanding of basic facts about politics. Obama graduated from Harvard law school, served in the Senate and has been preparing to run for president for over a year. McCain and Biden are both Senate veterans. There's no real doubt that any of the three of them could have answered the kind of questions Couric asked.

Palin, however, was an unknown to most voters when McCain tapped her, and she's only been involved in this race for a few weeks. She's got no federal-level or foreign policy experience that voters can look at. People have real reasons to question her understanding of these issues – and when offered a golden opportunity to ease Americans' doubts about her, she failed.

Ex-Democrats now for McCain!!   October 3rd, 2008 6:21 pm ET

I think the media is false and makes up things to sell them self! Don't forget folks that Obama was a unknow to most people not from his state!! Lots of Big money and Exon's gas company and Oprey Money made Obama come to life!! Gov. Palin is the best thing to happen to this Nation and show's alot of leadership! We all have our doubts about Obama , being the racist he has been in the past and known picking a white Biden for his VP ticket. Hillary Clinton should have been the person!!

Proud Independant   October 4th, 2008 12:21 pm ET

Palin is everything that is wrong with this country. She is a failed value system too stupid to 'look back' at history and see its failure. One that believes God tapped her on the shoulder instead of the McCain Lottery Ticket. One that makes her believe her own fan mail. One that believes asking her questions about anything other than her failed value system is Gotcha Journalism. One that thinks attacking an opponent is a suitable response to a direct question about policy. One that thinks being like able to Joe Six pack is a complement, forgetting that it is Joe and his Six Pack behind the wheel killing people in states that have more cars than moose. One that thinks not having an education, experience, talent or intellectual curiosity IS what qualifies her for office. One that thinks a woman in the white house should be barefoot and pregnant and nothing deeper than a cheerleader for the republican party! McCain and Palin are no mavericks, they are the death knell of our countries credibility and future as a democracy.

I take great exception with the republican party who has sold itself out to religious extremism. This party is taking great pains to destroy everything that makes us great and install a theocracy. A vote for this party is a vote for theocracy, and nothing....nothing, could be more unpatriotic, unamerican, and evil. They have no substance, they no platform but the one they stole from Obama. Hell, the party wishes they could steal Obama and make him their own. Think I'm kidding, go visit the RNC website. They talk about Obama more than they talk about their own candidates or policies. Obama and Bidens images far out number and are much larger than McCains or Palins. Then go to the DNC website, and its clearly all about the issues. The contrast is enormous, and it speaks volumes.

There is so much wrong with the republican party!

People the world over have flocked to our colleges and university's because they are the best in the world. Yet this party attacks academia as too liberal and too elitist as if conservatives were denied access. Only they could turn ivy league degrees into burdens, and attack those who have them.

Our technology, science, medicine is also best in the world, other countries try to steal it from us, and it has saved more lives, improved more outcomes, and relieved more suffering, in measurable concrete ways than anything else in human history yet they are under attack as evil, immoral, and wrong because some obscure loon interprets it as being at odds with a handful of letters written two thousand years ago and worshiped today like a graven image.

Our constitution as written has been a beacon the world over, copied and repackaged for nation after nation and yet they would tell you it is flawed and that it should change to insert Jesus or remove gays.

Freedom of the press, the ability to ask what matters has truly made us not just a free people, but an informed people, and has been hailed and copied the world over...yet they attack that now as Gotcha Journalism, and blame the reporters for asking, as if to justify their self-righteous indignation at being too stupid to know they are too stupid to answer the questions that actually matter.

The list goes on, where this party makes black white and white black and the ignorant fools swallow it down. Do the democrats suck at times? You betcha! But they have not sold out to the proverbial beast. Will you on Nov 4?

mharlow   October 5th, 2008 10:18 am ET

There is no such thing as 'gotcha' journalism.

Sarah Palin was a journalism major, and if she can't name one newspaper she reads in an interview with Katie Couric then what does that say?

Even a high school student could answer "What newspapers do you read?".

Heaven's sake. What would we think if McCain or Obama failed to answer that question?

I think its tough to be in the White House. IF you can not stand the heat ... then get OUT of the kitchen. Its not going to get easier on a candidate once elected...

Tom Warner   October 5th, 2008 11:12 am ET

What ever happened to taking a moment to gather thoughts and giving a reasonable answer? I think 'gotcha' journalism is a situation where a person being interviewed is caught a little 'off guard'. In these critical moments, a person's intellect, wit and ability (or lack thereof) to think fast on their feet comes into play. It is apparent that when simple questions that any national politician should easily answer become too overwhelming to respond to in a reasonable manner, that person will easily falter under pressure when much weightier issues arise like those that come under the responsibility of the vice presidency, or further, the presidency. Anyone with a modicum of sense can tell what periodicals they read to keep up with national and world affairs. Governors should also be at least aware of rulings by the supreme court of the land.

Chitra J   October 5th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

Did Palin ever get back to Couric with the answer she said "I will get back to ya"?

James from Montgomery   October 5th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

Every "Gotcha" question is no reflection on the reporter's prowess, if perhaps on their civility. If it is not unfair, it is "uncouth". And that is OK. We all are big boys and girls, with full grown conciounces, fully able to make, and live with our own decisions. For those snickering, Yes, every working person can attest to the fact that it is often a rough and tumble world out there, not for the faint of heart. Lucky for a seemingly growing, over-opportunistic number of reporters however, it does not presently contain an abundance of those with the skills of a Walter Cronkite, or several others of his time and ilk. I believe that some of the best do, however. I think that CNN's own Anderson Cooper is a shining example. The raising of this "Gotcha" topic, and the number of responses on this blog I believe are evidence of the possibility for the hard hitting, yet nobler motivated journalism of Cronkite's type to succeed as mainstream again. Would anyone be willing to say that would be an unfortunate development?

As for the candidates, they should be willing to say they don't know when they don't, then learn, and then comment. Palin seems to be a fine person, but her responses, under pressure of course, deserve no better treatment than Gibson or Couric.

Diana Ewing NJ   October 5th, 2008 12:31 pm ET

Jennifer Hames,
i totally disagree with you. we would have been better off years ago if the media and press had questioned things.. I knew as non college person that, we did not need or have reason to invade Iraq. The media and press were afraid to ask questions because they would be treated as unpatriotic.
Our elected officials are put into office by our vote to respresent us, we have a right to ask questions, our press and media have a right to ask questions and follow down the answer.
When I was a child, I thought if it were printed in the newspaper it must be true... well it is not.. and questioning things brings out the truth if questioned enough.
Palin was not asked anything difficult. McCain's and Palin's claim it is gotcha questioning, makes me think there is something to hide..
We would have been better off these last eight years if we questioned more. Even this money problem..... how do we know how this will be used..look how wooden arrows was stuck on the end of the bill.... raceways stuck on... these do nto follow my interests or any of my friends or family's interest... what is that all about?

Steve M.   October 5th, 2008 12:32 pm ET

The term "Gotcha journalism" is intended only to cover interviews that are specifically designed to embarrass a candidate. The biggest example would be the reporter several years back who gave George W. Bush a pop quiz on the names of various leaders around the world. Journalists have been treating Palin interviews as a sport, in which points are scored every time you trip her up or make her look dumb. (By the way she's the governor of a state, and if that state were Massachusetts or California instead of an outlying rural state, she wouldn't be getting the disrespect she's getting.) It's obvious how different an approach journalists take in interviews with her and with the Democratic candidates.

When journalists are just doing their jobs, asking fair questions and treating all candidates more or less equally, they're not doing "gotcha journalism." But I'm afraid in the case of Palin, they are. Whether journalists think that's justified is beside the point.

Frannyvida   October 5th, 2008 1:19 pm ET

Thank you Proud Independent. I wonder if Mita is a first time voter? The people with this (unfair) argument must have never seen Presidential Campaigns in the past. Use your computer for something other than rhetoric or open a history book while you still can. Could there be any kinder journalists they have chosen for her to be interviewed by? Could have the questions have been any softer?
Is it asking too much to put a sentence together properly? I want A candidate I can relate to, but I definitely want them to have knowledge of the World. I want them to be able to communicate. If we forget the past or don't look at the reason for a problem confronting us now, how can anything ever be solved? A nod and a wink will not get us through these difficult times. Thank you Abbie Boudreau, you do us proud.

Kate   October 5th, 2008 1:32 pm ET

I think the McCain/Palin campaign is excusing its unpreparedness for media interviews and reporter/voter questions with the "gotcha" journalism term. At this "level" I would expect Palin to be ready for a tough, insightful discussion with Katie Couric, Charles Gibson or any other journalist. Further, I would expect her to answer voter questions with honest, concise responses rather than acting like voters are out to "get" her. Voters and journalists have a right to ask questions; even if they are tough. She is not competing in a beauty pageant. She is competing for a job promotion where she will be working for US.

Gary   October 5th, 2008 3:23 pm ET

I was intrigueed by your 'gotcha journalism' backstory so I decided to read it and must say I believe you are either way off base or biased or something. I am 60 yrs old, stay pretty up to date on politics and world events and have heard about the bridge to nowhere for the past 3 yrs...I have NEVER heard of another bridge and I doubt that anyone in mainstream middle America ever did either. Doing a Google search of 'bridge to nowhere' only returns the single bridge results including a great Wikipedia informative. It appears from your writing to are trying to make a mtn. out of a mole hill in justifying there may be another bridge to nowhere-but the rest of the USA doesn't know about it, doesn't care about it, and I would be inclined to say you are trying to 'create' news or 'justify' your point with a miniscule (sp?) reference to some other bridge as if that is common knowldeg in the US when it is now...I heard of this bridge LONG before I ever heard of Sara Palin and I believe you are trying to create your own 'gotcha' play on words to make a negative comment where there is not one to be found

Ryan   October 5th, 2008 3:28 pm ET

It's only a Gotcha! moment when you DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER. No wonder Palin thinks all she gets are Gotcha! questions. Because she doesn't have a clue about anything anyone is asking her! Unless she's been prepped with her canned answers, of course...

And she threw Katie Couric under the bus on Friday in an interview with FOX News. She didn't answer because she is ignorant and a mental isolationist, NOT because she was 'annoyed'. Even the FOX reporter (Cameron) that did that interview on Friday had this to say about Palin suddenly having answers to questions she stuttered and stammered about with Couric or simply didn't have an answer: "There is a sense that she went back to the books and got her answer."

DavidL   October 5th, 2008 6:36 pm ET

Its hilarious, how certain individuals say that Gov. Palin is not 'ready' to be vice president. But those same people choose to forget that Barrack Obama is a 'first term' senator running for 'PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES'. I say if anybody isn't ready its him. At least Gov. Palin is a Govenor, and has also been a Mayor, which gives here vastly more experience running a goverment that Obama. So who isn't 'READY'?

DavidL   October 5th, 2008 6:59 pm ET

Proud Independent, I'm taking it for granted by your comment that Gov. Palin does'nt 'look back' to see the mistakes made in the past, that you didn't watch the Debate, in which she very clearly made the point thats something an adminstration needs to do.

You also indicated she was uneducated and inexperienced. Exactly what do you mean? She's a college graduate and several members of her family are teachers. Inexprerienced? Compared to who? Obama? Tell us about Obama's vast experience running a goverment. Sarah Palin is the GOVERNOR of Alaska! She's also been a City Mayor.

Missy in Kentucky   October 5th, 2008 8:33 pm ET

Sarah Palin's claims of "gotcha" journalism are ridiculous. My goodness if she can't answer a simple question such as what newspapers or magazines she reads, then she sure won't be able to answer any difficult questions. I don't believe the woman is well read in anything; I'm serious (no winks!).

Mike in AK   October 5th, 2008 9:53 pm ET

What a bunch of whiners! I don't just mean the GOP; I mean some of you knuckleheads posting here about how unfair the press has been to Gov. Sarah Palin. What the hell do any of you know about this lady? Had you even heard of her before McCain selected her as his running mate? I'll bet you a paycheck the answer is no.

Stop trying to compare the way journalist question her to how they question Hillary. There is no comparison. You've known about Hillary for more than a decade; watched her as the First Lady, knew her position on universal health care, watched her run for the Democratic presidential nod, and so on. Even if you don't know all of the details of Whitewater, you've at least heard of it.

All of the candidates have been under the scrutiny of the press. Some just a lot longer than others so we have a pretty good idea of what /who they've been involved with in the past. Can you say that about Sarah Palin? NO. I know if I was selected for the VP nod, you'd all be wanting to know as much about me as you could possibly find out.

Forger about the fact that Gov. Palin is a woman. She could conceivably become the President of the United States. We know less about her than we knew about W. and look where that got us.

Did she try to get her ex-brother-in-law fired? I don't know but she sure isn't trying to clear that mess up, is she? All of you folks who say the press is being to hard on her can answer that on yourself...and don't try to blame it on Obama! This was started before you folks (and Obama) ever heard of her.

Wake up people.

greenthumx   October 5th, 2008 10:22 pm ET

I think the gotcha questions are the questions that are stupid questions in the first place and no matter how they are answered it makes the recipient looks stupid. In my book it makes katie Couric look stupid because she doesn't ask real questions that people want to hear about. Another thing, why hasn't she asked Obama these stupid questions? For the life of me I cannot understand why the network got rid of Debra Norvel and replaced her with Katie Couric.

Dave   October 5th, 2008 10:22 pm ET

Tough questions are the essence of a good journalist. The "gotcha" term is just a cop-out. These candidates should feel pressured to answer every viable and issue-related question thrown at them. I just wish the journalists would report the facts and keep their opinions to themselves. Do I really care what Couric or Gibson or any of the other National news media think? No....their opinions mean nothing to me. Its the candidates opinions on the issues that matter. Unfortunately this country is full of "sheep" who can't make a decision for themselves, and they rely on the media and the celebrities to do it for them. God help us all!

Jon K   October 5th, 2008 10:57 pm ET

Growing up I was taught, by my church nevertheless, that the media had a left-wing agenda and that they were out to destroy America. Undercover communists, all of them! Although, as I grew older, educated and started looking over all the facts, this idea of the liberal elite media is a bunch of lies. I'm sure there are some that may fit into the category, but the phrase, "liberal media" is just another attempt to simply a category of people into a nice easy to swallow pill for those who would rather not have to think too had about details.

Next time you want accuse the media of being biased just ask yourself if they injected any opinions into their news coverage. You'll find out that almost all of Fox news does this, and a little of MSNBC and CNN does this. Although, the shows on MSNBC and CNN that do this are clearly opinion shows while Fox News tends to cater to the Jerry Springer crowd.

Gary B   October 6th, 2008 4:49 am ET

The two party system propogated by corporate America and the media, is nowhere. America is run by corporations. Congress is owned by corporations. Its a dog and pony show, not unlike the elections in most fascist states. All pandering, and no action.
A joke. A farce.
The only voting machine that is legitimate, is the guillotine.
A lesson could be learned from the French, but Americans are too busy living beyond their means, to live free.

Lily   October 6th, 2008 5:42 am ET

What I find so interesting about journalists today is their imbalance in digging for truth about all candidates. Tough, fair questions are fine when ALL candidate are subject to tough, fair questions.

Proud Independant   October 6th, 2008 5:58 am ET

You are welcome Frannyvida!

DavidL I most certainly did watch the debate. Did you? Because I distinctly remember seeing Sarah wag her finger at Joe Biden for 'looking to the past via GW Bush' and I distinctly remember Biden's Shakespearian rebuttal of 'Past is Prologue, Sarah'. So I am taking it for granted by your comment that either you don't see Sarah's resemblance to Bush and understand why we should look at his record to get an idea of what she and McCain are going to do to us – or you actually do believe Bush is on God's mission and therefore that we have no right to look back and question his policies and hers/McCains?

Palin is educated as a Journalist, which makes her qualified to be a journalist, or a performer...a degree which took her no where special because she lacked talent like Couric's. No wonder Sarah was annoyed in her interview! Not only did Couric ask Sarah questions she couldn't/wouldn't answer, she asked questions Sarah had not thought of to any depth. The funny part is McCain had to cancel with Letterman to do damage control with Couric after Palin's debacle of an interview. Letterman was irate and it cost McCain dearly!

Palin's experience as governor is quite short, though maybe just long enough to abuse her powers or at least cause a whole world of controversy and expense defending her actions. Her experience as Mayor of Wasilla is not real impressive to me, no offense to Wasilla, but managing a population less than some city blocks does not extrapolate to backup leader of the free world, or even the right to sit in a chair once graced by the likes of John Adams or Thomas Jefferson's cat.

“The Senate is a place filled with goodwill and good intentions, and if the road to hell is paved with them, then it's a pretty good detour.” Hubert H Humphrey

Here's the thing about Obama, not only does he have experience he has the education, intelligence, charisma and talent for the job. He can speak to a crowd, a nation, a world, in a way that Palin and McCain cannot. Buts lets spell it out....

- Almost 4 years now as a US Senator
- 8 years (two terms) as a state Senator and at the same time a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School where he taught 2-3 classes per semester in things like Constitutional Law III: Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process; Voting Rights and the Democratic Process
- Graduated from Columbia University in 1983 and then worked for a year as a financial analyst
- Worked three years as a community organizer in Chicago before going to Harvard Law School which he gradated from in 1991
- Became president of the Harvard Law Review
- Ran Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration drive, for much of 1992
- Worked for the Chicago firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland which specialized in political and civil rights, and neighborhood economic development work.
- He wrote two books about himself, by himself.

Now what did Palin do?

- BA in Journalism from the University of Idaho?
- Runner up beauty Queen of Alaska?
- Captain of her high school basketball team?
- Attends a church where people speak in tongues, lay hands, and children worship GW Bush's life size cardboard cutouts when they are not being recruited as a soldier in Gods plan for Alaska? Can you say Madras!
- Has a pastor who bills himself as a witch hunter (its on the church's website, I'm not making this up)
- Refuses to speak about her religion! (Yeah I wouldn't either.)
- Commands a national guard?
- Scares the hell out of the free world and Ben Stein?

Its worth repeating, Sarah Palin scares the uber conservative scary guy!.

bc456Indvoter   October 6th, 2008 6:58 am ET

I findit very interesting that Gavernor Sarah Palin who is clearly unqualified to be the vice president of the United States or President of the United States alone with senator John McCain is talking about Gotcha journalism, the possibility of someone's relationship to a member of a particular board, and their childhood relationship with someone instead of teh important issues of our country thr economy. I was pleased to see that a democratic from Penn was voting for McCain/Palin as it appears that we both are willing to accept errors in our decision making abilities. I now admit that I made a serious error in voting by supporting George W. Buch and Dick Chaney but at least I was not not pretending to be a democrat when I truly a republican. I am presently a registrar independent voter and proud of it until I heard that Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband was a member of the Independent Alaskan Party who believe that Alaska should be an independent Country. I believe if you are running for any United States political office then gotcha journalism does not exist. She is weak, not qualified to serve as vice president, corrupt, and an abusive politican. It is my belief that she maybe facing the possibility of being impreach as Governor of Alaska. I would suggest and recommend that if you feel so supportive of Governor Palin you warn her that every statement she make on the campaign trail can be examined, reviewed, and shared during an impeachment trial. If Senator Stevens is quilty then I must say that Governor Palin may be quilty of corruption. She is presently willing to return illegal campaign funds. Sarah Palin is one of the worst political vice presidential candidates that we ever had to listen too.

pghezzi mich   October 6th, 2008 7:22 am ET

i dont believe that palin had any gotcha questions. most of what whewas asked should have been answerred, like what do you read. she is not qualified to be vice president its a sad comentary on the intelligent of voters is they think she would make a good vice president. on the debate, she did not answer most questions, only the ones she had the answers to. i feel mcain really goofed in picking her. i am voting for obama biden, as are my friends and family.

DavidL   October 7th, 2008 9:20 pm ET

Pround Independent. Yes I watched the Debate. She clearly said that administrations, and present have made mistakes, and those mistakes should learned from.

I was also responding to your comments about Gov. Palin not being educated or experienced. I think being a Governor and a Mayor qualifies as experience . You obviously believe that having a BA in Journalism is not an education.

You might want to consider leaving the sarcasim out of your comments, as most of what you say falls into that realm, and is one of the reasons I responded to your remarks. It clearly shows that your a very angry individual.

Yes, Barrack Obama has a very impressive education, and served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, and the other things you mentioned.

Actually he will probably be the next president of the United States. Hope all the education makes him a good 'Commander and Cheif'.

john y   October 9th, 2008 4:14 am ET

Gotcha journalism is clearly an effort by liberal leaning media at all three networks +CNN to ask obscure trick questions like "what is the Bush doctrine" . What % of people would really know what it is, how about the Clinton doctrine? "The View" is an excellent example. The View women swooned over Nobama and asked questions about his kids, while McCain was badgered. This country does not need the #1 and #3 liberal senators running this country. 25% of the people pay 85% of the taxes. The philosophy of the limousine liberals like Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy,Pelosi is so hypocritical. These pontificating ultra-rich politicians should donate 98% to charity and live like the rest of the middle class.

steve from nc   October 11th, 2008 8:21 pm ET

obama was interviewed by bill o'reilly. you should find it and watch it. that is how a politician handles "gotcha" questions. there are four parts, and he went toe to toe with o'reilly. let's see palin or mccain go on such a hostile show and deal with the harsh questions. you won't see it.
besides, what do they expect when they keep a vice presidential candidate wrapped up so tight they can't answer truly random questions.

yes, media is human and has its favorites, but it goes both ways. and if one side is really messing up, should they ignore important aspects just to appear impartial? is that what you really want?

Mandi   October 12th, 2008 12:57 pm ET

She's signing up for a tougher job: being vp (or perhaps president). I hope you guys know that this isn't an easy job. If she can't answer a few questions, proving to us that she is qualified, then god help her if she is put in the position where she has to walk the walk.

Saltyboy   October 20th, 2008 12:49 am ET

It is selective gotcha, that is the problem.
Tony Rezko (Serian national) in jail, freind and supporter of guess who?
Where is the investigation?

Perusing-Through   November 2nd, 2008 6:01 pm ET


A down & dirty simple definition of "gotcha journalism" is when a reporter ask a question that corrupts the subject matter from the interviewee's perspective while leaving the interviewee short on 'camera time' and resources to articulate a response that refutes the fallacies, inaccuracies, and false assumptions of the reporter's question.

Gotcha journalism is when the reporter put an interviewee on the spot with a 'loaded question', where the question is designed to smear a particular person or target; and/or accomplish the following two things:

(1.) – Frame the subject being discussed in such a way that the interviewee is presumed guilty before he/she responds to the reporter's question,

(2.) – Forces the interviewee to use extensive 'camera time' to first reset and correctly reframe the question. Followed next by having to use more camera time to articulate a response that navigates the viewing audience to what the interviewee considers the most appropriate response to the reporter’s question.

Laura   November 12th, 2008 7:59 pm ET

A certain part of the republican base seems unwilling to criticize ANY republican no matter how flagrent their incompetence, unpreparedness or corruption. In the 80s, republicans would turn on a republican candidate or elected official if they violated their own standards, now it is swept under the rug and any mention of anything that recalls their flaws is called "Gotcha" Journalism.

Harry Katz   November 16th, 2008 11:51 pm ET

I don't have an American car, my clothes aren't made in America, I outsource my work to India, and I am very, very happy.

Paul DeFlorio   November 30th, 2008 9:31 am ET

Now that we are on the downslope of our most recent spike of "gotcha" journalism, it is clear that lives only amongst candidates in pursuit of a public office. I have failed to find it brought up by any other type of person who media hounds bother. I find it fantastic coincidence that journalists employ "gotchas" only on candidates for public office. I guess it's a matter of either believing those evil media types have so much spite for candidates that greasy tactics like "gotcha" is their only play OR cooking up a little sensationalism helps fill the columns in papers/websites. I believe a little helium is applied to every humble story in order to make the them attractive enough to read. I also believe there has always been plenty of stupid stuff attached to candidates to write about. I think candidates need to learn using the high road more often. I'm sure Gov. Palin can simply explain the selection process of multiple bridge building projects and show that the reduction to one bridge build was not a self-centered choice. Maybe I have too much faith in assuming all choices by public officials are reasonable, but c'mon. I think public officials need to try using moments with journaists as opportunites to win blessings from the public as opposed to a weird contest of contradiction & blaming journalists for "gotchas".

Leave Your Comment


Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

Powered by VIP