On PBS, Geraldine Ferraro's Daughter Dismisses That Palin's 2008 Veep Nomination Meant Anything

On Thursday night's PBS NewsHour, anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Donna Zaccaro, who has made a new documentary about her mother, Geraldine Ferraro and her historic nomination for vice president in July of 1984. Like Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexandra, Zaccaro was a longtime producer for NBC News before becoming a filmmaker.

In a film clip, NPR’s Cokie Roberts gushes about the moment at the convention with Ferraro, “Standing up there all in white, looking like this tiny little figure, but looking beautiful and looking female.” Woodruff added she was there, too, and “I remember. It was a special moment for women in — no matter who you were, what party you were in.” But Zaccaro thought Sarah Palin’s nomination in 2008 wasn't a bipartisan moment. It meant nothing:

JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet it took another, what, 24 years before another woman was nominated on a major-party ticket. That was 2008, when Sarah Palin was nominated to be vice presidential running mate with John McCain. What does that say about the legacy of what your mother’s candidacy meant, do you think?

DONNA ZACCARO: I don’t know that it says anything about the legacy of her candidacy, because I think it was a very different choice. I think, in McCain’s case, it was more of a sort of Hail Mary pass and it was political expediency. He did not have — he wasn’t considering any women or actually any minorities or anything else on his — when he was looking for a vice president selection.

And it was very different. With Mondale, he had actually opened the whole process very publicly and deliberately, because he wanted to include groups that had been excluded before into consideration for the vice presidential spot.

What a lame argument! Mondale wasn't throwing a "Hail Mary" pass in 1984, with Reagan ahead in the polls? And what should matter is the actual selection, not the openness of the selection process. It's quite clear that Mondale looked more like a "Hail Mary" passer when they only spent two days vetting Ferraro's messy finances, which enmeshed the rest of the campaign season.


When the film debuted on Showtime in March, the Los Angeles Times review explained "So even though 'Geraldine' more than occasionally lapses into a daughterly valentine — the woman, apparently, had no faults whatsoever — it is still a truer tale than many celebratory documentaries."

Like Rory Kennedy doing a documentary on her mother "Ethel" for HBO, these movie channels are just suckers for Democratic valentines made by family members.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis