Sarah Palin's one-day stint as co-host of the Today show was billed as a showdown of sorts between the former vice presidential nominee and Katie Couric, the interviewer who caused Palin endless embarrassment during the '08 campaign and who was co-hosting rival morning show Good Morning America on Tuesday. Sorry, Katie: Palin may have won this round, with critics hailing her performance as "oddly charming," "magnetic," and "poised." During her Today cameo, Palin predictably blasted President Obama, interviewed Tori Spelling, and weighed in on pop culture issues like Oprah Winfrey's failing OWN network, Ashton Kutcher's casting as Steve Jobs, and Jessica Simpson's pregnancy weight gain. (Watch a video below.) Was her appearance as charming as critics suggest?
Palin was terrific: This was a "slam dunk for Palin," says Verne Gay at Newsday. She shined with a "natural, born-to-camera ease;" appeared "poised, relaxed (more or less), and confident" next to her more seasoned co-hosts; and peppered the show with just the right amount of political savvy to appease her supporters. It certainly didn't hurt that she essentially "got a wonderful free ride for two hours," often serving less as a traditional co-host and more as an honored guest who was encouraged to enjoy herself and crack wise on pop culture.
"Sarah Palin on Today show was a slam dunk"
And she had the right attitude: Palin's self-deprecating humor stole the show, say MJ Lee and Tim Mak at Politico. In her first shot on set, Palin perused a pile of newspapers, while she was later shown in her dressing room scribbling notes on the back of her hand — tongue-in-cheek nods to two of her most famous political gaffes. Palin later drew roars of laughter when she cracked that a lady on the street saw her entering 30 Rock and giddily told her husband, "Oh honey, I told you, Tina Fey is here." She played nearly the entire appearance for laughs at her own expense, which was a smart move for the polarizing political star.
"Sarah Palin pokes fun at herself on Today"
But the whole thing was so strange: Apparently, "mainstream television will happily subject itself to endless abuse in pursuit of ratings," says David A. Graham at The Atlantic. How else does one explain the "bizarre spectacle" of Sarah Palin on Today? During her interview with Lauer, Palin blasted the "lamestream media." The irony that she was voicing these sentiments "while co-hosting a show on one of the Big Three networks" was apparentlly lost on her — leading Lauer to quip that her presence "technically makes you a part of the lamestream media."
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