(MarketWatch) This column was written by MarketWatch's Jon Friedman.
With no disrespect to any of the other television networks or anchors, I can't wait to see Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin. It will feature two accomplished women talking to each other on national television.
It will also allow Palin and Couric the opportunity to present different images to America.
Couric, who has anchored the "CBS Evening News" for two years, will spend a few days talking with Palin on Sept. 28 and 29 and the interview will air on the 29th.
After a rocky introduction, Couric has done solid work on the evening news program. She is launching an intriguing spot called "Presidential Questions." On Sept. 17, she raised the points of how the two presidential candidates would prevent another terrorist attack and what personal flaw might hinder the ability of either man to be President of the U.S.
If Couric could get Palin to offer thought-provoking answers to her questions, she'd go a long way toward finally erasing the media's ever-present "perky" characterization of her. The quality of her work should speak for itself.
Palin, lampooned brilliantly by Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live," will have an agenda, too. Palin will hope to show viewers that she has the gravitas to run the country someday.
CBS presents an ideal opportunity for Palin. She has already made a strong impression on many conservative "hockey moms." Many see a connection with Palin's struggles to "have it all" as both a working mother and an accomplished professional.
CBS will allow Palin to address an audience that has had a reputation for appealing to a greater number of liberal Americans than its network competitors.
To its chagrin, many Americans continue to identify CBS as the TV network that had to apologize publicly for its unsubstantiated report on President George W. Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War.
Wowing viewers and voters
Palin may have wowed the nation since Sen. John McCain tapped the obscure governor of Alaska to be his running mate. And, if you believe the Republican Party's hype machine, she may even be able to kill a moose from fifty paces, but she had better watch her back, nonetheless.
Couric is starting to hit her stride after two years in the anchor seat the "CBS Evening News" and she won't take any guff or double talk. We're starting to see media writers (including this one) writing favorable pieces about Couric after a relentless stream of criticism. Either Couric is getting more comfortable and self-assured in the job (I think so) or critics are finally warming up to her. Maybe the viewers will follow.
Palin pretty much skated by in her first network interview, with ABC's Charlie Gibson except for a few awkward moments when she digressed about the White House's foreign policy.
Gibson tried hard to keep Palin honest with focused questions. But he was destined to come up short in his interview. (Click here to read Friedman's analysis of the Gibson interview.) If he put Palin's back against the wall, he would have been blasted as a big-city, elitist sexist. But if Gibson had given Palin what amounted to a free pass (I knew he wouldn't do that), he would have been castigated as a wimp.
Now, CBS will level the playing field for viewers by matching its Unsinkable Molly Brown versus McCain's version of Marge, the fearless sheriff in the Coen Brothers' classic 1996 movie "Fargo."
Nobody will be able to accuse the media of sexism when it's Couric who will be firing fastballs at Palin's head.
If I had Couric's ear before the interview, I'd suggest she hammer on two issues: national defense and the economy.
I'd want to hear Palin discuss the crisis on Wall Street and in the housing market. Maybe we shouldn't expect her to have a solution right away, but I would like to hear her talk about wha it means to her.
With this interview, Palin is trying to show she represents more than just her home state, she's looking to be the voice for small town America.
And how will Palin propose to solve the messes involving Social Security and health care?
It's going to be up to Katie Couric to tell us all what it means.