ABC Leads with Palin Unready, Biden's 'Dilemma' is How to Answer Palin's 'Attacks'

At the top of Thursday's World News, just hours before the vice presidential debate, ABC anchor teased that “a new poll shows most Americans don't think” Palin is “ready to be a heartbeat away,” and, in explaining the advice both candidates are getting from their advisers, George Stephanopoulos fretted about “the dilemma for Biden,” which given that “we expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered.”

So there's the early media line: Biden will be the victim of attacks from Palin and must figure out how to counter those unfair attacks.

In the lead story, reporter Kate Snow did not cite any poll number about how “most Americans don't think” Palin is ready to be President, but she did highlight how “our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President.”

Gibson's tease at the top of the October 2 World News aired in the EDT and CDT time zones:
Tonight, great expectations. Sarah Palin and Joe Biden tonight have their only debate as a new poll shows most Americans don't think she's ready to be a heartbeat away.
From Snow's story:
....Palin's challenge tonight is clear. Aides acknowledge she has little room for error. Our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President. But a top Palin aide today called the debate an opportunity to turn that around....
Gary Langer's ABCNews.com summary, of the ABC News/Washington Post survey released Thursday morning, explained the poll finding to which Gibson had referred:
....Just 35 percent say Palin has the experience it takes to serve effectively as president, down a dozen points since early September; 60 percent think not, up 15. And just 46 percent think Palin "understands complex issues," while 49 percent think she doesn't -- a poor assessment on this most basic qualification....
The relevant portion of the Gibson-Stephanopoulos exchange:
GIBSON: You talk to the two camps all the time. What do they say in the Democratic side that Biden's approach will be and what do the Republicans say the Sarah Palin approach will be?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, kind of mirror image advice. For Sarah Palin, loosen up. Don't see these tightly scripted, somewhat robotic, frozen performances we've seen in some of these interviews. For Joe Biden, button down. Control yourself, restrain yourself. Don't take the bait when Sarah Palin comes after you.

Here's the dilemma for Biden. We expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center