ABC says no issue off table for Palin

NEW YORK (AP) -- Charles Gibson's producer says no issue is off the table for Sarah Palin's first TV interview as a vice presidential candidate, which ABC is hoping it can air in part on Thursday.

Gibson will travel to Alaska and will probably speak to Palin at least twice. The challenge for ABC will be making excerpts available in time for "World News" Thursday, which Gibson must broadcast live from that state at 2:30 p.m. local time, said Jon Banner, the broadcast's executive producer.

Gibson was a no-show Monday at a news conference called by ABC to tout its effort to report election stories from all 50 states because executives said he was starting to prepare for the interview.

The ABC anchor interviewed GOP presidential candidate John McCain at the Republican convention last week. He said he thought hard about it, but decided not to ask questions then about Palin's family, including her 17-year-old pregnant daughter.

That doesn't necessarily mean the issue won't come up with Palin, Banner said.

"I don't think there is any doubt that this is a big interview for him and for us," he said.

Even though Palin's handlers chose Gibson over CBS' Katie Couric and "60 Minutes," there was some talk in news circles about whether MSNBC's opinionated programming was hurting NBC News' ability to book such an interview. MSNBC executives decided over the weekend to replace Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as anchors of their political coverage with David Gregory.

"All I know is I was delighted they chose us over someone else," said ABC News President David Westin.

Westin said he believed there were advantages for ABC in trying to play it straight with its coverage.

"There is still an audience that comes to us because they believe we're going to tell them the truth, as opposed to `let's garner all the evidence we can for what position we like,'" he said.

He said NBC News faces a challenge in deciding how it works with MSNBC, or whether it tries to keep some degree of separation.


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