1. Let’s be fair: John McCain and Sarah Palin weren’t claiming that a question from a voter was “gotcha journalism.” They were claiming that for Katie Couric to have the temerity to take Palin’s answer to a voter seriously was “gotcha journalism.” That, of course, makes all the difference.
2. Should the McCain-Palin camp—given the drubbing Palin received after her solo interview last week—have considered having Palin do this interview solo to try to redeem herself? (If, that is, CBS were interested in changing the arrangement.) It’s true that this interview was actually scheduled some time ago. So it’s not, in that sense, as if McCain decided to chaperone his running mate to keep her out of trouble. But to the casual news viewer—who saw the Couric interview, or maybe just the SNL skit—it sure is likely to look that way.
3. Can we all agree now that shielding Palin from the press was a serious mistake? By limiting her to a handful of high-profile interviews, the campaign made each one into an Olympics-like event, magnifying any failure. McCain-Palin have complained that there’s a double standard over Joe Biden’s gaffes. But without getting into the nature of Biden’s gaffes or what they say about his knowledge and preparation as opposed to Palin’s, the big difference is that he makes so freaking many of them—at a certain point, they tend to wash each other out and cease being news. Fair or not, it’s a simple fact of the media that any campaign should be aware of. Maybe the solution for Sarah Palin is: more gaffes!
Update: 4. It occurs to me, by the way, that some of Biden’s gaffes—on clean coal, on the McCain-can’t-use-a-computer ad—have been of much the same nature as Palin’s Pakistan statement, in that they contradicted the guy at the top of the ticket. There’s a reasonable way to answer gaffes like that: “We’re two people; no one agrees on everything; but [Sen. McCain/Obama] is the one running for President, and he will call the shots in our administration.” Or you can avoid the whole issue and say it’s all the media’s fault, and see how well that works for you.
[Another update: Because it's come up a couple of times in the comments: I am emphatically not saying that Biden's and Palin's gaffes—and I'm using the term very broadly—are equivalent, either in kind or in what they say about the two candidates and their qualifications. As I said in comments, that's another post altogether, and one that I would think people don't want the TV critic's opinion on. But I do think it's true as a practical matter, whether anyone likes it or not, that the more one speaks—and screws up—on camera, the more people get inured to it. Whereas if you put your candidate out once a week, it blasts a floodlight on her every word.]