You also have to think about it from the perspective of a member of the traveling press corps who gets herded around everyday only to hear the exact same speech at each stop. It’s very regimented and tiresome, with campaign staffers ordering journalists around, telling them where to go and when, as reporters have to scramble to come up with something original to report on. The access to the candidates is really the only thing that makes it all worthwhile, and in fact, whenever I’ve traveled along with the press, the primary topic of conversation becomes whether or not the candidate is holding any press avails. If he or she isn’t, then pretty soon reporters air their frustrations and that becomes the story. I’ve always felt that it would be so easy for campaigns to buy off reporters by providing them with more access, and in fact McCain should know this better than anybody, because it’s a big reason why for a long time, he was a media darling. If you deny reporters access, it’s just going to make them view your overall campaign more negatively, because they are only human, and it will affect coverage.
As far as Palin specifically, it worries me. Obviously, the campaign is aware of the backlash stemming from her refusal to hold a press conference in the nearly four weeks since being selected. So the campaign’s calculation must be that taking the hit from denying reporters the oppourtunity to ask questions is better than having her take questions and mess something up. That suggests to me that Palin is seriously unprepared, and the campaign knows it. Either that, or it’s all part of an elaborate strategy to lower expectations ahead of the debate.