Today on Fox News Sunday, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin joined other conservatives in saying that Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul should never have gone on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show because it was a “gotcha” question to ask him about his views on civil rights (which were already the hot topic of the day, before the interview). Palin criticized Maddow, saying she “perhaps had an agenda” and that he should be allowed to freely engage in “a hypothetical discussion” about the Civil Rights Act:
WALLACE: Do you see some similarities to what politicians and the press did to you in the fall of 2008?
PALIN: Yeah, absolutely. So you know, one thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don’t assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be — and then the opportunity that they seize to get you.
You know, they’re looking for that gotcha moment. And that’s what it evidently appears to be that they did with Rand Paul, but I’m thankful that he was able to clarify his answer about his support for the Civil Rights Act.
Maddow, despite Palin’s rhetoric, provided Paul a fair forum, giving him approximately 15 minutes to explain his views. Last week, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also said that Maddow did a “gotcha” interview, claiming, “If I’m walking down the street minding my own business and somebody sticks a microphone under my nose about a law that was passed 40 years ago, without more detail — I think it probably caught him a little bit by surprise.” Of course, Maddow didn’t “stick” a microphone under Paul’s nose; he freely appeared on her show and the issue of the Civil Rights Act was brought up earlier, during an interview Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky. At that time, Paul had a very clear opinion on the issue.
Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, however, Cornyn admitted that asking Paul about his positions is fair game:
GREGORY: Don’t you think this is fair game? Questions about his views about the limit and scope of government?
CORNYN: Well, I do think that’s a fair topic, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing extensively from him and all the other candidates over the next six months.
Watch Palin and Cornyn: