TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.


Marianne Paskowski

Did You Watch Veep Debate? You Betcha

October 3, 2008 9:56 AM

Viewers across the nation were glued to the first and only vice presidential debate between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Biden Palin Vice-Presidential Debate

If people were watching for a Palin train wreck, they didn’t get it. She didn’t derail; she came off as strong and spunky with her homespun “you betcha” and “darn right” manner of speaking.

Clearly the format worked for Palin, who bore no resemblance to the candidate recently interviewed by CBS’ Katie Couric.

So what did we learn last night? I walked away with one and only one thing: Palin does well when scripted, as she clearly was last night, but when it comes to thinking on her high-heeled feet in an interview, she trips up.

Meanwhile, I was surprised this morning when I took the Cape Cod Times’ online poll, which showed 67% of the respondents said Palin won the debate.

Was there a winner here? I say no.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (53)


Well being a measurement guy, I always have trouble with the open-ended question of who won? We need a defined criteria to evaluate performance against. So If just knowledge of facts with depth and breadth of insight, Joe is the winner. Sarah only spoke generally in her folk speak. At one point, I thought she should switch parties when she spoke about the needs in education. It sure sounded like a Democratic concern as she presented it. I am suspecting she is only a republican because they would only support her campaign.

Marianne Paskowski:

I get your point, but the polls measure visceral reactions. Honestly, I can't remember much of what Palin actually said, except the words maverick, you betcha, darn right, etc.

Wonder who if anyone gets the next TV interview wuth her. That's the only way we're going to see the real Sarah.

Thanks for your post,

I found her quasi-homespun, faux folksy, pre-scripted answers to be insulting to the intelligence of the American voter. She was condescending, rude and sarcastic, all under the guise of being 'the girl next door.' I felt like I was watching Eddie Haskell in drag. Biden gave clear, concise, thoughtful and direct answers.

I agree with Cliff, the McCain campaign has co-opted the platforms of the Democratic party. How else can they hope to win this election? If they really want to be Mavericks, maybe they should defect.

It was crystal clear to me that Biden won the debate.


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Margot,

Biden was articulate, clearly knows his stuff, but the problem was everyone was watching her, waiting for her to trip up. I hated how she refused to ask some questions.

Part of the problem was the moderator who was overly self conscious about scribing the Obama book, who should have challenged Palin to answer questions that she won.

And although Biden is my guy, I wish you would have come out swinging at her. Palin got off easy. And I'm just stunned about that online poll I mentioned, citing her as the hands down winner.

That from the Commonwealth of Mass., the most liberal state in the union. Scary stuff.

So Margot, thanks for your thoughtful response,


I think Sarah should be doing all the remaining McCain TV Ads. She has a knack similar to Ronald Reagan's, putting things in perspective easily. Joe Biden seemed like a negative old fart to me.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jim,
Yeah right. Remember Reagan had 3 x 5 cards in front of him because he couldn't remember anything unless scripted like Palin.

So, let's agree to disagree.

Thanks for your post, m


Debate was all about Palin and she passed with flying colors. Best Biden could hope for was a soundbite or two.

Biggest issue with Biden is that he looks more Presidential than the guy at the top of his own ticket. He showed that he's got the experience, the smarts, and personality to be in the Oval Office. If only they could switch positions.

Andy S.:

"I think Sarah should be doing all the remaining McCain TV Ads. She has a knack similar to Ronald Reagan's, putting things in perspective easily. Joe Biden seemed like a negative old fart to me."

I agree. She has Reagan's knack for folksy speech, combined with Bush's "nucular" butchery of the English language, both of which have worked well in the past. The fact that there's no substance behind these phenomena will not be a problem for American voters, who don't know what substance in politics looks like. How would they? Most of them aren't old enough to have ever seen it.

Marianne Paskowski:


Interesting thought, but we have what we have. I'm OK with the Dem ticket, and we need someone like Biden to counter Palin's ridiculous meteoric rise.

Remember, the veep is a heartbeat away. So let's see if Palin accepts MSNBC's invitation for an interview. I doubt she will.

Thanks for your post, m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,

Oh, I don't agree with you, most voters have seen 8 years of Bush and don't like the results. There is no comparison with Reagan and Palin.

What's interesting here is to see how McCain and Palin delicately try to distance themselves from Bush, the worst president in America's history.

Having said that, Palin has attracted a lot of attention. I am stunned that so many voters are still on the fence about who to vote for in November.

Thanks for your post, and keep jumping back in, love to hear what you all have to say, m


I was mesmerized by Sarah Palin last night; couldn't take my eyes off her. She won me over, but I still won't vote for a Republican ticket. Not now. Not after the last eight years. I want something different. That 67% of your neighbors on the Cape thought she won is a startling statistic, though.


Marianne Paskowski:


You were mesmerized for the very same reason all Americans were, including me, who is this woman and will she trip up?

Think we saw more of the real Sarah in Katie's interview. But that's yesterday's news, and people forget. But not me.

Something about the Cape. I'm going to check that out right now to see if the scales tilted.

Good to hear from you again, and good luck with your class. I would be very interesting in seeing how they view the race.m


Yo, Blondie --

The first thing you should learn is to understand what happens with the unscientific straw polls the media and other groups stage online. They're bull. Not scientific in the first place, and subject to great manipulation in the second place. A couple of weeks ago when PBS had an online poll about Palin's suitability to be veep, right wing bloggers and emailers across the Web told the faithful to post their vote. The right wing is organized that way; they follow their marching orders unquestioningly. Heil!

Cruisn not Bruisin


I'm appalled by the responses your blog has accumulated. Some of them are totally idiotic, to the point that you have to shake your head and ask, "They let these people vote? Do they let these same people go the bathroom unsupervised?

Marianne Paskowski:


I'm not talking about some stale poll PBS took two weeks ago, I'm talking about the very real visceral reactions that Palin scored last night.

Now this gets even better. The Cape Cod Times, is largely a liberal paper. Now I wonder. When Rupert Murdoch bought the WSJ, he also inherited the Ottoway Newspaper chain, the owners of the Cape Cod Times.

So Cruiser, all polls are flawed, just telling you about what that shocked me today.

Thanks for your post. m

Marianne Paskowski:


You're shocked at the responses? I'm not. Call your elderly next door neighbor who thought the moron Palin was brilliant last night.

I have a problem with Conservatives, obviously, but I want to hear what they're saying so that I can get ready to move to Canada.

By the way, you really can't. Know someone who tried. Unless you open a business that hires Canadians you just can't go there. My friend, a liberal journalist tried to buy a bakery and make it happen. The deal collapsed.

Thanks for contributing to the stew,m

Don Wolf:

I can't understand why you're surprised at the vote for Sarah Palin. She's genuine, one of us, who understands the small town people and shares our small time thinking. Biden, like Obama, is an elitist, who thinks that Senate experience and Ivy League educations are something more than smokescreens. Leadership means being with the people, not being smarter than them. The common man needs representation, and Sarah is the one! She'll never try to intimidate me or talk down to me because I, too, know all the answers she knows.


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Don,

I agree with you that Sarah is down home.

Sorry, however, that's just not good enough. We need educated, sophisticated people to run this country through this economic mess.

Before anyone beats up on Don, let me reiterate, all opinions are welcome here, even though we don't agree.

Thanks for taking the time Don, to jump into the conversation, m

Roberta Lazarus:

I think Tina Fey did a remarkable job last night.

Marianne Paskowski:


Hah! The irony of you post is not lost on me,or like-minded posters up here. So thanks for yours keep on coming back, m


Glad you enjoy you're freedom. That does not mean that the peoples of the middle east -- and their childrens children should not have the same opportunity. Sorta better than letting hate for us fester and a new breed of terrorist be born " dontcha think"?During the civil war people with your head in the sand mentality were called peace democrats. It is the very same mind- set that would have gladly dissolved the union. Thank God Lincoln the republican did not listen. As your vp candidate said " what's past is prologue." marianne the copperhead... you r living proof.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Luke,
Welcome. Not sure I get your point, but thank you for feeling free to express your opinion here.

I don't why you think I'm living proof of anything, except I'm still alive.

And let me take a minute to apologize to all. I made many typos (not thoughts) in my responses, sorry, have a of "pink eye," an ocular infection I picked up at the gym.

So Luke, I don't get your drift at all.

Thurston Last:

You know what I find comical? Those on the right complaining that Obama and Biden are "elitists" because they went to Ivy league schools.

Unless I was asleep for the last eight or so years, isn't Yale an Ivy League school as well? Bush 1 and 2 both attended that school. Also, didn't McCain and wife benefit from the Lincoln Savings and Loans scandal from 1980s? He was one of the Keating Five. Also, he and the wife are multi-multimillionaires who got ahead in life primarily because of who their parents were. Can't say the same about the Democratic ticket.

I don't want to trust my country to be in the hands in another governor from another oil-rich country with strange quirks, the inability to prounce the word "nuclear" correctly, and no world experience beyond what others trained her to study. Been there with the current guy. Plus, McCain said he's as healthy as the economy back in April . . . uh oh!


Hey M,
I'm having a real problem figuring out what to do this election. My small town heart totally sucks up Palin's act, but that's the problem, it's an act. She's a genuine, nice person. I can totally understand people falling for her because she's nice. She however, in my opinion is just not ready yet. I don't see McCain dying anytime soon so I think she would be able to grow in the role but obviously you never know. People fell for Bush's act the past two elections, so it is easy when people are frustrated over her popularity, but for me, I can at least handle her getting elected for her personality. However, I still don't understand how people chose Bush the monkey over the very centrist John Kerry four years ago. To me, Palin is a much lesser evil than Bush but after so many problems, it is very hard for me to just stand up and support a fairly unqualified candidate. Not to mention, I really don't like McCain (the actual candidate) for his negative attitudes towards ethanol (pops is a corn farmer). I think Obama is a very nice person too, but he has made some scary flip flops just to appear centrist in the past few months and his plans for national health will never work given how we just bailed out wall street. I'm just not sold on him either. Here's to one screwing up so my mind can be made up!

Marianne Paskowski:


We haven't seen anything get, the GOP candidates were on the stump all over the country saying they were taking the gloves off and getting into it.

Like Palin pointing to Obama's ties with the Weathermen. I believe Obama was 8 years old when the Weathermen were blowing up buildings. But let's not let the facts get in the way of the GOP agenda.

As to the bailout package, that both parties agreed to, I'm a little stymied still, after reading everything.

Watching SNL now, back from a dinner at friends, and somebody at the part described voters' mood quite well, like being in a state of "suspended reality."

Well, this is our reality. I know what I'm doing Nov. 4. Thanks for your post, m

Marianne Paskowski:

I too live in a small town, population 7,000, like Wasilla, or whatever that god-forsaken town that Palin was the mayor.

Speaking of Pelin, Tina Fey was fab on SNL tonight. I'm at the point where I can't tell the two apart.

Jason, I disagree with you, I don't think there's anything nice about Pelin at all. This is a woman who shoots animals from an airplane for sport, not for food.

Back to SNL, more political satire on right now, thanks for coming back, you're asking good questions, m

Political Observer:

With the country so dramatically divided into two partisan camps, Palin and Biden both reinforced their bases. Witness the comments on your blog.

The big question is the 25% of voters who are still undecided. I'm guessing some (many) of them like Palin because she's not from inside the Beltway. Lots of us are sick of Washington's failures and extreme partisanship.

She may not be all that qualified, but will she be worse than what we have now? All that experience hasn't exactly produced stunning results.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Political Observer,

I think we all agree that the last 8 years were a train wreck. Whoever wins will have a huge mess to mop up. I know Democrats who don't want Obama to win, specifically for that reason, so that he's not blamed for the problems he will inherit.

That is if he indeed wins. So thanks for your post, and clearly this blog isn't going to fix the problem, but at least give people a chance to speak freely.

What I like here is that we can agree to disagree, m


The fact that you don't like Sarah Palin because she hunts shows how out of touch you are with the midwest people. Hunting for a lot of them is like the theater for the rich. I think if that's the worst thing she's done, she's still better than half of the people in Washington whose slimy policies have gotten us into the mess we are in now.

Marianne Paskowski:

That's not the only reason. She showed no empathy during the debate when Biden talked about losing his wife and kid in an accident.Media critics are all over her for her lack of empathy, not just on that count, but for countless other gaffes.

Palin never maintained eye contact with the moderator or him, and panned instead for the camera.

Now I do agree that we have a lot of people in DC don't belong there, hope we don't but another one in like her.

So here we ago again, let's agree to disagree, I get your drift about Midwesterners. I've been to a Cabela's:}

Take Care,

It occurs to me that this "race" has become absurd.

The choice of who actually gets elected next month is important.

The BS that continues across all the rostrums has taken the Election to sub-terrain levels below low.

What IS important to me is the American People are losing Big Time. Real issues are lost in the shuffle. The whole economic reality is that we have tanked and we're on battery power, declining more with each moment.

Whomever is elected with have all the fun of the Presidency as experienced by Herbert Hoover.

One more attempt at slander against either candidate by the opposition will wind up directed at self.

Thursday night Biden did not appear to bully, and he had the right to, Palin did not derail the train, but proved to be who she is to even a half astute ear.

It is sad the we can't take on our dire situation in a true face on. That we can't get the facts and deal with them honestly.

We all better pray, "GOD BLESS AMERICA" and be willing to roll up our sleaves.
Peter Bright

Marianne Paskowski:


This weekend the political race got ugly with Palin accusing Obama of associating with terrorists. Wow.

I feel like I'm a heartbeat away from something I don't like, the ruination of this country.

Sometimes I wonder if things were really that bad all along, but we just didn't know because of the limited media choices.

Today with the Internet, and of course cable news, we read and hear more, but are we really better informed?

I'm a news junkie, but like looking at a swarm ofl snapshots that never make the family album and wind up in a shoe box to be sorted later.

We gotta get it right now, and it's hard. I'm still looking for more nuance on the bailout bill, let alone what the candidates are really saying about health care.

Wonder if this is how it felt when Rome was burning and Nero was fiddling away?

Thanks for your post, as always, m


I hope her second interview with Katie Couric shows the same spunk she showed in the debate. For example, when she gets some wonky question like "What do you read, where do you get your news?" she should answer, "That's the kind of question voters in Manhattan or Washington DC would want answered, so they can pick apart my answer. Frankly, it's not important where I get my news, because that only matters to the elite few. Regular voters want to know my stand on issues that affect them directly, not where I get my news. Sometimes I wonder if the highly-educated East and West coast voters even realize how elitist they come off! Do you have any questions that might address the interests of regular people?"

Marianne Paskowski:


Yes, I have a lot of questions for Palin, from regular people. Like why does the state of Alaska have the lowest scholastic scores in the country?

Does the Alaska school system teach sex education, she should know that answer firsthand.

Here's another question from Joe lunch bucket: what does the bailout package mean for me?. Her running mate voted for it, remember?

And apparently Palin reads the NYT's, at least the clips her staff gets for her about Obama's link to the Weathermen.

Golly gee, am I normal enough for you, or just an East Coast elitist?

Whatever, thanks for your post, we all need to hear from all sides, and if you want to slap a label on me, that is your right.


Anyone who missed Steve Croft's piece on CBS's 60 MINUTES last night on the inner Wall Street should take the few minutes to view it on-line.

What's been going on for some years is treasonous and should be treated as such and nothing less.

The winding, crooked (very) trail, if followed accurately, will lead from lower Manhattan to inside the Beltway.

The list of co-conspirators will read like the who's who of banking, insurance, legislation and legal-slease.

Mead Paper will have to work overtime to produce enough parchment on which to print the indictments.
Peter Bright

David Cohen:

I keep waiting for this Palin thing to be exposed as an April Fool's joke. I mean, seriously, can anyone feel comfortable with the fact that if someone in their 70s who's already had health problems has another, this woman will have the most important job in the free world?

Marianne Paskowski:

Thanks for the reminder, meant to watch last night. Get aload of the market right now, down 458!

The Wordsmith:

Is it me?

Or does anyone else think 'team of mavericks' is an oxymoron?

Just askin' ya know.

Thurston Last:

Unless it's Mark Cuban's NBA franchise, yeah, it's quite the oxymoronic phrase.

Marianne Paskowski:

Wordsmith and Thurston Last,
You betcha, you're both darn right.

Good catch, m

Thurston Last:

Another thing about that whole "Beltway" situation. Those so-called undecided say they don't want someone who's been in Washington circles because they feel Washington is such a corruptive force.

If Washington is such a corrosive factor, consider this.

McCain has been a part of Beltway for almost 30 years. Obama, for about four years now. If being a part of the Beltway for so long is such a factor in picking a president, then shouldn't Obama be their choice considering he hasn't been in Washington that long?

It's a confusing thing, just like those McCain ads one minute calling for unity one minute and those Republican-produced/McCain-endorsed ads pretty much demonizing liberals by blaming them for everything from ruining the economy to causing AIDS (okay, they didn't blame them for that . . . yet).

Call it like it is: "Team of Morons".

(Sorry, McCain, you do have merits to parts of your history, but you went along with your VP pick and that was a moronic act.)
Peter Bright

Indi NYer:

It was a potential slam dunk for Biden, so by not walking away the clear winner, he may in fact be the loser.

And with Palin doing everything she needed to erase doubts about her intellect, she certainly didn't lose.

If Palin crushed Biden or Biden had a major "Howard Dean Scream" type moment, it'd be an easy call.

Dems say Biden won, and Repubs say Palin won.

End result:
Draw with edge to Palin for leveling the playing field again.

Marianne Paskowski:


Interesting take. Clearly viewers expected Palin to trip up worse than she did. But she did trip up.

Pray tomorrow's presidential debate is meaty, Dow dwon 487 points right now. Obama and McCain need to address the financial meltdown face on and calm Americans rather than slam each other.
Thanks for your post, m

Andy S.:

"Speaking of Pelin, Tina Fey was fab on SNL tonight. I'm at the point where I can't tell the two apart."

I thought the latest SNL Palin spoof wasn't nearly as sharp as the first couple. Yes, Fey is spot on in her impersonation, but the skit itself did little besides rehash what actually happened in the debate, with a smidgen of exaggeration added for effect. And that reinforces what I've believed for some time now: satire is becoming increasingly impossible to pull off, because reality is so utterly absurd now that even the most creative humorists can't top it. Who would have imagined a decade or two ago that people like these would actually be in positions of leadership in the most powerful nation on earth? Then, it would have been satire. Now, it's just reportage.

Marianne Paskowski:

The irony is that the SNL writers don't have to write much of the script, Sarah, herself, is a parody or mockery of leadership.

Tina and the SNL writers are awesome and catch the nuances of Palin masquerading as a leader and magnify them just enough. Ingenious, I say.

Just pray we don't have to watch Tina Fey for four more years, is what I say, m


Very good point about SNL writers not having to write much of the script.

I watched the entire debate. Every time she opened her mouth, I just wanted to vomit. It was just so scripted and fake.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Joe,

The only thing SNL could have done better, was bring out the Down Syndrome baby that Sarah ruthlessly trots out during her major appearances at an hour when a baby should be in his/her crib.

I can't believe she uses that baby as a prop. Despicable.

But SNL has more class than Palin has or ever will.

So Joe, there you go, m

Marianne Paskowski:

I've been wondering about this moronic GOP ticket. McCain, I read, really wanted Lieberman (can't stand the whiner, myself) but the GOP said no. They don't trust Lieberman any more than they trust McCain.The GOP forced Palin on McCain. Whatever, McCain agreed, barely knowing anything about Palin.

Scary, huh?

Thurston Last:

The one thing I'm deathly afraid of is that SNL will, once again, influence the idiots into voting for a candidate because someone does a great impersonation of them. The late Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond did wonderful impersonations of Bill Clinton while some can argue that Will Ferrell's impersonation of George W. made his career. Will Forte's impersonation of W. in 2004 showed a twitchy, unsure guy that was downright lovable in spite of is mistakes.

That's what I'm afraid of with Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin. Yes, it's moronic, yes, it's a ratings-grabber, but it shouldn't be a reason TO vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. Tina already has a job, and I doubt she'll continuously be on the series. Remember, by the middle of George W's first term, Will Ferrell was gone. By 2005, Will Forte was no longer performing the character.

Then again, maybe SNL wants McCain to win. They've been very hard on the Obama campaign in the primary season and they'll be the first to proclaim "McCain's the first SNL host to become president."

Of course, I'm probably just reaching. I hope the American public aren't fooled by SNL. It's bad enough they're fooled by Fox News and talk radio.

Marianne Paskowski:

Oh Thurston,
I hate when people tell me my problem is I think too much, but I'm now saying the same thing here to you now.

Don't read too much into the SNL tea leafs. I pray people are not that dumb, as you suggest.

Tonight's presidential debate was a bust, but more about that for another blog, maybe.

Well, off to look at a promising DVD from the History Channel about the "Secrets of Body Language."

But, back to the debate, the DOW dropped 500 points today, and these two yahoos barely addressed a frightening scenario.

Sweet dreams,

Chi-town Mike:


I too seriously hope that you don't think that SNL are the "powers that be" to persuade voters. This is nothing new for SNL. In 2000, Will Ferrell's Bush did did a couple of spoofs of Bush crying that "This job (being president) is just too hard" while crying into the camera. Last time I checked Bush served as president for 2 terms. Darrel Hammond had spent enough time burying Clinton as well.

Shows like SNL and The Daily show draw ratings because they are funny. They take current news and turn it into entertainment. At a time when our nation in dire straits, I seriously doubt that people are tuning into SNL to find out which candidate SNL wants us to vote for. BTW after watching tonite, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they do a McCain spoof after tonites debate with him saying "That one", or bomb North Korea, and next up Baghdad. All of that may be misinterpreted but obviously ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC talked about it enough that it may or may not gain steam. Are the news networks just as guilty as SNL? Your vote...

Marianne Paskowski:

You are spot on. SNL will spoof McCain, trying to relate to Ronnie, via, "my friends." Lost track of how many times he said it.

So for now, off to the online WSJ site to see what's next, more informative than this debate. Belt-tightening times and neither candidate said squat about the economy.

You would not believe the rage expressed on Yahoo finance pages message boards for just about any stocks they own. Check it out.

Post a comment