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"Gotcha Journalism" Or A Double Standard?

From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

(SEDONA, Ariz.) In an exclusive interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, both members of the Republican ticket brushed aside Sarah Palin's apparent contradiction on Saturday of John McCain's policy on Pakistan.

Palin's assertion that the U.S. should "absolutely" launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan in the event that it becomes necessary to "stop the terrorists from coming any further in" came in response to a customer's question at a Philadelphia restaurant.

McCain told Couric that although Palin's comment was not something she should have said out loud, it was undeserving of extensive media coverage.

"But, look, I understand this day and age of 'gotcha' journalism," McCain said. "Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn't hear the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country."

The video of Palin's exchange appears to show that she heard the question about Pakistan perfectly well. In fact, she engaged in an extended dialogue with the customer on the subject.

When Couric asked Palin what she learned from the experience, the Alaska governor echoed McCain's charge that the media was behaving in an unsavory fashion in its decision to publicize her comments.

"That this is all about "gotcha" journalism," Palin said. "A lot of it is. But that's okay, too."

But on the same day that both Republicans dismissed Palin's off-the-cuff comment on Pakistan, Palin criticized Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden for a comment he made to a voter, under similarly unscripted circumstances.

Stumping in Ohio last week, Biden responded to a woman who shouted a question about clean coal from a rope line.

"We're not supporting clean coal," Biden said. "Guess what—China is building two every week, two dirty coal plants, and it's polluting the United States. It's causing people to die."

Soon after the comment was made, McCain seized on Biden's remarks, saying "[Obama's] running mate here in Ohio recently said that they weren't supporting clean coal either." The McCain/Palin campaign also released a web video, which showed part of Biden's comments on clean coal.

Biden spokesman David Wade issued a statement saying, "Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama and Senator Biden support clean coal technology. Senator Biden's point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies."

Then on Monday—the same day she decried the "gotcha journalism" that showcased her unscripted comment to a voter on Pakistan—Palin followed McCain's lead in seizing upon Biden's remarks to the Ohio voter.

"Just recently, Sen. Biden made it perfectly clear that in an Obama-Biden administration, there would no use of clean coal at all," she said.

Asked to clarify why Biden's gaffe was worthy of ridicule, while Palin's flub deserved a pass, a McCain/Palin spokesperson said, "It would seem Biden's remarks were very clear on the issue whereas Palin's response was only part of what she has previously said on this issue."

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