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The Liz and Carl Show

August 31, 2010

Liz Benjamin has made a fine transition from newspaper reporter to Capital Tonight anchor. She appears comfortable on set. She’s gets the pacing of a TV show. She projects herself professionally. These are extraordinary skills that she has developed quickly. 

Having said that, there are still some moments when the edgy newspaper reporter in her emerges, and it can be hilarious. This was true in her recent interview of Carl Paladino. 

For the most part, Paladino was on his best behavior. Anyone tuning in to see him for the first time would definitely not conclude that he’s a crazy man. In fact, he was composed and responsive. He wasn’t smooth, but he was confident and unfazed by fairly rigorous questioning. 

There were just two moments during the 40-minute interview that were surprising. One was when Paladino insisted that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a “diabolical man” and the other was when Paladino maintained that President Obama really isn’t a true believer in Christianity. 

In response to both comments, Liz almost jumped out of her chair. You could tell she wanted to say: “Oh, come on. What the hell are talking about?” 

Instead, she just kept giving Paladino chances to qualify or scale back his comments. Paladino would think for a moment, and then say quietly and matter-of-fact: “No, that’s what I believe.” 

The comments – not exactly fair or gentlemanly — probably don’t hurt and may even help Paladino in a GOP primary. Silver and Obama are the bad guys in Paladino’s world, and to many conservatives, Paladino might even have seemed to be pulling his punches. 

For others, Liz’s arched-eyebrow response — “OK, then. Let’s move on” – said it all.

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