Sarah Palin's debut as Fox celebupunditician? Tonight's O'Reilly Factor. Bill will be very nice to her and make her comfortable, and it will probably not be that embarrassing. But on the other hand, the gal doesn't really do live TV.
[Update: O'Reilly is, of course, live-to-tape (like a late-night show), and Palin's segment may even be taped before the rest of the show—we don't know yet. But one imagines that at some point in her Fox career she'll have to face a live camera. Right?]
We've previously examined Sarah Palin's lengthy descent into incoherency, and that scientific study forms the basis of our response to this news. But we didn't break down her televised appearances into level of difficulty or skill required.
Reading prepared remarks is a skill any politician should possess already. Sarah Palin's teleprompter experience dates back to her local news days. But despite her faculty with a speech, she stumbles when the material is subpar or when she suspects the audience is hostile. (And she soars when the audience is adoring, and her speech is nice and mean.)
She actually can pull off a competent-sounding interview, as long as it's with someone friendly like Greta Van Susteren or Charlie Rose. She was decent at it in 2006, became a nervous, crazy wreck in 2008, and eventually rebounded to competency on her book tour. But these were all pre-taped interviews! Sarah's doesn't do live press conferences. She doesn't do live in-studio interviews. She'll do pre-taped—like on Oprah—but we are pretty sure her in-studio with Hannity in November was, if not the first, than one of the first live in-studio appearances she's done since being selected as John McCain's running mate. And Hannity, if you are Sarah Palin (or anyone who thinks Obama is a Muslim), is just about the easiest, friendliest interview ever.
So, to recap:
Late-1980s Palin: pretty good on live TV! Of course, she is reading from a Teleprompter.
2006 Palin: More or less competent at speaking in prepared talking points without becoming too incoherent.
2007 Charlie Rose Palin: Competent in the interview. Rambling but attractively folksy.
2008 Palin reading prepared remarks to adoring crowd: fine.
2008 Palin in pre-taped interviews: Terrible.
2008 Palin speaking extemporaneously: No one knows!
2009 Palin reading prepared remarks: Uhhhhh....?
Palin pallin' around with Greta, 2009: Relaxed and casual, but these two are basically old girlfriends from way back at this point.
And Palin on Hannity: as we said, Sean basically asks "is Obama a Muslim who hates America?" and Sarah says "yes, Sean," and Sean reads from her book and is all "why are you so wonderful in every way?" and Sarah's answer is more or less "because of God, Sean, also." So as long as she is only promoting her book, every appearance, she'll do fine!
But what is she going to talk about if she does not talk about herself? Literally every issue has to go back to Sarah Palin, her life experiences, her family, her challenges, her enemies. If the topic strays—as it did with Katie!—she freezes. Will they just cut to her after a segment to ask how the story affected Sarah Palin, personally? Probably? There is only one way to find out: watch a clip of this nonsense on the Internet tomorrow morning.