Greta, Charlie, Katie, Sean, Reporting Live From Inside the Palin Bubble

Barracuda Week on American television unofficially kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 11, when Charlie Gibson of ABC News interviewed Ms. Palin against a range of backdrops—in a hotel ballroom, alongside an oil pipeline, in her living room in Wasilla overlooking a scenic inlet and at the gym that holds her high-school basketball trophies.

The interviews were sober and probing and conducted in a hard-nosed manner. But whatever missteps Ms. Palin made along the way (“In what respect, Charlie?”) were softened by the unspoken power of the setting. Trees, mountains, a woman in power.

Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC’s World News, who made the trip to Alaska along with Mr. Gibson, said the specific settings for the interviews were the result of a collaborative effort.

“We had to find a place on Thursday that was close enough to the deployment ceremony for her son, but wasn’t on the military base,” said Mr. Banner. “We used a hotel ballroom. We wanted to ask her about energy and the environment. We went to the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline for that. On Friday, she had to go home. We ended up in her living room. That was something they had offered and we took advantage of, not knowing any other place in Wasilla.

“Our desire was to be substantive and do as much as we could to educate the audience and to leave it at that,” added Mr. Banner.

There were no preconditions for the big interview, he said, except for its general location. “The only stipulation was that we had to go to Alaska,” said Mr. Banner.

On Wednesday, Sept. 17, Ms. Palin is scheduled to sit down with Sean Hannity of Fox News for her second post-convention interview. The apparent backdrop: an area of Ohio, hit hard by Hurricane Ike. In case viewers missed the subtext—here’s a powerful woman who can grapple with Mother Nature!—Ms. Palin will also appear in a one-on-one interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo later this month in a documentary called, “The Hunt for Black Gold,” in part about mankind’s quest for oil in the rugged wilds of places like Alaska’s North Slope (where Ms. Palin’s husband works for most of the year).

Perhaps mindful of the fact that journalist-bashing is currently in vogue, television news producers to date have been laboring to inject their pieces on Ms. Palin with serious analysis of her track record as a politician and her beliefs on a range of serious issues, from energy policy to national security to abortion. Mr. Gibson’s multipart exclusive with Ms. Palin was a study in sober journalism. And, in addition to all the memorable imagery, the CNN documentary was filled with plenty of small-bore analysis of Ms. Palin’s time as mayor of Wasilla.

Recently, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News spent a week, hosting her show On the Record, from Alaska. Along the way, she scored the first on-air, post-convention interview with Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, the so-called “first dude” of Alaska.

Therein, Ms. Van Susteren, in a blue North Face vest and jeans, strolled around the Palins’ property talking to Mr. Palin, dressed in a polar fleece and jeans. They discussed romance, sockeye fishing, hockey, cold weather and the pleasures of caribou versus moose meat. As they walked, they passed in front of a boat, several pickup trucks, multiple ATVs, a pair of snowmobiles, a golf cart and a single-engine seaplane.

Mr. Palin, in his laconic way, told Ms. Van Susteren: “Americans, I think, are seeing what she’s about.”

fgillette@observer.com

Greta, Charlie, Katie, Sean, Reporting Live From Inside the Palin Bubble