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April 4, 2012 – 1:27 pm | Views: 426

Congeniality is key as Palin proves she can play nice and Katie remembers how to have

fun

Sarah Palin and Katie Couric on

NBC and ABC

Be less afraid.

That may be the main message we

civilians should take from Tuesday’s parallel appearances by Sarah Palin on NBC’s “Today” show and Katie Couric on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Yes, we know

why the networks set this up. ABC thinks showcasing its latest hot hire all week might push “GMA” past “Today.” NBC hopes

Palin’s one-day visit will bring enough of her posse, plus curiosity-seekers, to fend off that challenge.

Did it work?

Who knows? In the end, the numbers are network bean-counter stuff.

What we can say is that Palin, who was billed as a

co-host but really was more of an extended guest, played her role smartly. Couric made it a little more about Katie, but she

knows the morning game. She makes two hours slide down like a latte.

What’s interesting in the broader picture is what

these gigs say about where two of the best-known, most ambitious and most polarizing women in the modern politics-and-media

game might be going from here.

Katie and Sarah don’t leave a lot of people in the middle. You love ’em or you hate

’em.

They both know that, too, and while they have benefited from it — passion always beats indifference — their game

plans Tuesday sent signals they wouldn’t mind looking a little more welcoming.

From the moment she hit the national

stage in 2008 as John McCain’s surprise

running mate, Palin has loved playing Mama

Grizzly.

When true conservative believers want red meat, she delivers. She’s in such demand as a firebrand and

energizer that she quit the Alaska governorship to do it full-time.

But it was a different Palin who showed up Tuesday

for “Today.”

It’s not that she backed off on her ideology. She plugged the “marketplace” and got in swipes at the

“lamestream media” and Hollywood, favorite targets of those who think America has lost its way.

But Palin also knew

she was talking to millions of people who don’t attend political rallies. This was a place to show off a mom who’s proud of

her kids, who applauds the entrepreneurial spirit of an ideological opposite like Oprah Winfrey and who can admire Tori Spelling’s stylings for hors d’oeuvres at a fancy Hollywood

party.

Palin smiled, used her indoor voice and generally joined the lighthearted banter, some of it self-deprecating,

that sets the morning show mood.

Be less afraid.

Couric, meanwhile, continued her game plan from Monday’s

“GMA,” dusting off the upbeat, chatty and bemused persona that worked so well for her over 15 years at “Today.”

Amid

stories involving cops and politics Tuesday, Katie also interviewed Camille Grammer about why she left “Real

Housewives.”

This isn’t the Katie who pressed Palin during their famous 2008 presidential campaign interview, who

continually needed the gravitas to prove she belonged in the traditionally male seat of the “CBS Evening News”

anchor.

Before Katie starts her daytime talk show on ABC later this year, she wants to be sure we know she’s having

fun again.

And that there’s no reason to be afraid.

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It’s a duel at sunrise for Sarah Palin and Katie Couric on NBC and ABC’s dawn patrols

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