Tue Oct 7, 2008 by Anil Kalhan
SAJAforum: Temple grad student on “gotcha journalism” and his exchange with Sarah Palin over Pakistan
A couple of weekends ago, Gov. Sarah Palin made headlines for her informal exchange, while ordering cheesesteaks in Philadelphia at Tony Luke’s, with a Temple University graduate student about Pakistan:
"How about the Pakistan situation?," asked [Michael] Rovito, who said he was not a Palin supporter. "What’s your thoughts about that?"
"In Pakistan?," she asked, looking surprised.
"What’s going on over there, like Waziristan?"
"It’s working with [Pakistani president] Zardari to make sure that
we’re all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the
border," she told him. "And we’ll go from there."
Rovito wasn’t finished. "Waziristan is blowing up!," he said.
"Yeah it is," Palin said, "and the economy there is blowing up too."
"So we do cross border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan you think?," Rovito asked.
"If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any
further in, absolutely, we should," Palin responded, before moving on
to greet other voters. [link]
The comment was interpreted by many to be closer to the position of Sen. Barack Obama than to that of Palin’s own running mate, Sen. John McCain, who just the previous evening had criticized Obama’s position on Pakistan during the first presidential debate. The next day, the McCain campaign retracted Palin’s comments, and in a joint interview of McCain and Palin by CBS’s Katie Couric the following Monday, McCain blamed the entire episode on what he referred to as "gotcha journalism."
No one was engaging the Alaska governor beyond small talk. Most of
the people in the crowd appeared starstruck, including some Obama
supporters we had spotted earlier.
I felt compelled to ask the governor about the U.S. incursions into
Pakistan that had been in the news recently. My parents urged me not
to, but I thought she might respond in this informal setting….