After weeks of video snippets popping up online, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s full interview with Oprah aired today. Palin’s chat was ahead of the release of her autobiography, “Going Rogue,” which thanks to pre-sales, is already a bestseller. Palin and Oprah covered a variety of topics including that Katie Couric interview, Levi Johnston and why she and running mate, Senator John McCain, lost the election.
Oprah dispensed with any fancy introductory packages and dove right in, bringing Palin out to the stage as soon as the show opened. Palin bounded out in a teal jacket and black skirt and she and Oprah jumped right in. Oprah first wanted to clear up the misconception she snubbed Palin during the 2008 campaign. Oprah famously endorsed Barack Obama’s candidacy for president but also declared she wouldn’t have any of the candidates on her show until after the campaign was over. The rumor mill went into overdrive, with conservatives claiming Oprah was intentionally banning Palin from the show, while Barack Obama had been on twice (though these were before he announced his presidential candidacy.) Oprah reiterated her stance against candidates appearing on her show during election season and Palin herself said she had no idea any of this had occurred.
Moving on, they discussed Palin getting the call from the McCain camp to be the VP candidate. As the vetting process began, Palin revealed she was surprised Team McCain already knew about daughter Bristol’s pregnancy (at the time, news known only to the family) and Palin added they knew things she’d said and done that even she’d forgotten. Palin said she felt Bristol’s pregnancy was a missed opportunity to address the teen pregnancy problem and says the campaign effectively muzzled her and put its own spin on the issue. Palin said the handling of the situation was an indication of problems to come.
Palin said she didn’t realize how much attention would be put on her family and thought the most controversial aspect of her life would be the “D” she got in a college course. She claimed she never expected the wardrobe to become a controversy (there were reports Palin and her family charged $150,000 worth of new clothes for the campaign trail to the GOP’s tab.) Palin said she’s not a shopper, and practically speaking, it was nice to have someone choose clothes for her. She also said the family wondered if they really looked so bad that professional stylists were necessary.
Oprah and Palin delved into how she was prepped for the vice presidential debate, which according to Palin, didn’t amount to much. Palin claims the extent of her prep was being handed a stack of rubber-banded index cards with serious questions on the front and non-answers on the back. Palin said her handlers were constantly reminding her to “stay on script,” but that she never figured out what the script was and often, she found out what was going on from reporters instead of the team. Oprah asked if she blamed herself for the loss and Palin replied no, that the economy had tanked under a Republican administration and the American people were ready for a change. She went on to say she and McCain were perceived as the “status quo.”
The infamous Katie Couric interview was next on the docket. According to Palin, it was supposed to be a lighthearted segment between two working mothers navigating the trials of raising teenage daughters. Palin acknowledged she didn’t do well in the first interview but once again, without her knowledge, subsequent interviews were scheduled. Palin said the McCain camp actually congratulated her on a job well done after the first interview. Palin said Couric, who she referred to as “the perky one,” badgered her and she was so annoyed with Couric that she let the aggravation show on her face. Oprah replayed the clip of Couric asking Palin what magazines and newspapers Palin read and Palin said she took it as Couric asking “do you read.” Oprah asked if in hindsight, did she wish she had just named some newspapers and magazines and Palin said of course and went on to say she didn’t realize what a defining moment it would become in the campaign.
The big question everyone seemed to be waiting for was what Palin thinks about Levi Johnston, father of Palin’s grandson, Tripp. Johnston has been making the rounds lately, firing shots at Sarah Palin and the Palin family and recently completed a photo shoot for “Playgirl” magazine (the spread is scheduled to be released in January 2010.) Palin all but compared her ex-future-son-in-law to an aspiring porn star and said he’s been so busy on his press junket that he hasn’t seen the baby in quite some time. Oprah asked if Johnston would be invited to Thanksgiving dinner and after a lot of hemming and hawing, Palin said he had an open invitation.
The show visited Palin and Co. in Alaska, and Palin opined on being free of handlers and able to say and do whatever she wanted. Oprah and Palin touched briefly on election night and Palin expressed her frustration at not being allowed to speak that night because she was told vice presidential candidates didn’t do that. On the topic of Palin’s resignation as governor, Palin couldn’t seem to give Oprah a straight answer (her response was reminiscent of the Couric interview and her debate performance.) Finally, Oprah asked about 2010 (there is persistent speculation Palin will throw her hat in the ring for a presidential nod.) Palin also dodged that question, so my guess is, she’s gearing up for a run.
The one thing I was waiting to hear was Palin dish on Tina Fey’s dead on-impersonation of her, which many say coupled with the Couric interview, spelled the death knell for Palin in 2008. Oprah did post a clip of Palin’s thoughts about the skits on her Web site.
Oprah was the first stop on the Palin Press Tour – she’s next scheduled for a chat with Barbara Walters. I wonder if Tina Fey will pull out that Palin wig for a repeat performance?