Sarah Palin's International Debut: All Friends, No Media

The campaign seems so nervous about her meeting foreign leaders that they banished the media.

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Sarah Palin made her international debut at the United Nations today in much of the same manner that she has made her entrance onto the national stage: among friends and with minimal press access.

As my colleague Thomas Omestad reports, Palin met with leaders from "countries tied most closely to American largess and geopolitical support during the Bush years. Those leaders include Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, Jalal Talabani of Iraq, and Colombia's Alvaro Uribe." That's a polite way of saying that she met with America's trophy allies.

This is the international equivalent of sending her to Fox News for interviews (which, of course, the McCain-Palin campaign has already done). But it gets better: Even in the gentle company of American friends, the campaign tried to shut out the press. (Or as even Fox put it, " Palin Media Blackout Continues.")

What was it worried she would do?

(This much we know: Had she vomited on a prime minister, the McCain talking points would have focused on how it showed she was presidential.)

In case you've missed it, Palin's meetings with Karzai, Uribe, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were supposed to get pool coverage—one television camera, that network's TV producer, a print reporter, and a wire reporter would get to see first contact between Palin and these world leaders. The pool would then be ushered out before anything of substance (or more likely of "substance") transpired. Fairly standard stuff.

But an hour before her first meeting, the campaign announced that the producer and print reporters would be barred.

As Fox News reporter Shushannah Walshe blogs, "This means that the Palin camp has the benefit of pictures of her shaking hands with world leaders and have that video broadcast all over the world, but there would be no risk of her having to answer even one question from a reporter at the beginning of the meetings." (Walshe described the broad tack thusly: "Today, the Palin camp went to new lengths to control the media, which is covering the GOP vice presidential nominee.")

Steve Benen at Political Animal sums up the nonsense nicely:

If only she and her team had the confidence to endure a question or two, the media coverage would have worked to the campaign's advantage. But, no. McCain's team doesn't trust Palin, and can't take the risk of another embarrassment.

In the end, the campaign was forced to relent when CNN—which was supposed to provide the producerless camera—declined to cooperate. Good for it.