I looked at three online news sources for coverage on the VP debates: The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and BBC.
The New York Times piece came in the form of an editorial written the day after the debates, located at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/opinion/03fri1.html?em, and echoed the same sentiment seen throughout the news media: Expectations of Palin's performance were so abysmal that she needed only to string together a few coherent sentences to be seen as having done well. However, the piece went to great lengths to argue that only by that measure can she be considered to have done well. If expectations had been more typical of a VP candidate, and her performance was otherwise the same, the editorial writer felt strongly that her performance would have been seen as weak and ineffective.
I make a habit of reading both BBC and Al Jazeera on a regular basis, to get two very different foreign perspectives on both American and world current events. The BBC piece, located at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7647559.stm, was written the day of the debate, before it began. It, like many other news sources, highlighted the extremely low expectations of Sarah Palin's performance, especially in light of what had happened during the Katie Couric interview just a few days before. The Al Jazeera article, posted the day after the debate at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/10/200810323214988383.html, took a surprisingly strict "just the facts, ma'am" approach. I was expecting a definite anti-McCain tone here, as Al Jazeera has had a strong anti-Bush message for years. While this attitude seems to have extended into the McCain campaign, it didn't show up here.