This is for you, Katie Couric
by Joseph Hughes, Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:48:53 PM EDT
Some people just saw you interview John and Elizabeth Edwards on "60 Minutes". Others did not. Even those who did see you interview the Edwardses are of two minds about it. Some people who did see the interview thought it was a moving profile of two courageous individuals. Others who saw it thought that, while the last statement is true, you, on the other hand, did a terrible job and did journalism a disservice. Some people will surely come away thinking you legitimized the shameful opinions of the far-right fringe by couching them in relative anonymity. Other people will come away thinking you did that because you agree with them. So, some people will think you're simply a hack, while others will think you're a partisan joke. A third group will think both. What would you say to those people?
Annoying, isn't it, Katie?
You see, in your attempt to conduct an even-handed conversation with the Edwardses, you committed, on myriad occasions, lazy journalism. Your repeated use of the "some say" construction - a FOX News staple - was both especially annoying and professionally irresponsible. Some people didn't say John Edwards's decision to stay in the race despite last week's news was political opportunism. Rush Limbaugh did. Twice. So, too, did the always offensive fringe elements at the Free Republic. But by shielding the Limbaughs of the world from responsibility for their ridiculous statements, you made it appear as though they are shared by many others.
They are not. The overwhelming majority of Americans aren't that cynical. The overwhelming majority of Americans aren't hypocritical, immoral reprobates, nor are they pseudonymous, hate-filled cowards. They are intelligent, good-hearted people who, regardless of political affiliation, recognize character when they see it. Recognize heart when they see it. Recognize determination when they see it. Because, you see, the struggles now facing the Edwardses are the struggles far too many have faced. My family. Your family. Millions of families. And had someone baselessly accused you of being an opportunist despite the years of wonderful work you've done for the cause following the tragic death of your late husband, wouldn't you want to know who those heartless motherfuckers were?
The opportunity to respond directly to their critics was the very least you could have offered the Edwardses. That they rejected the premises of so many questions, answering them instead with dignity and aplomb, was as much a testament to their values as it was your lack of professionalism. The only difference Sunday between you and Ann Coulter was that Coulter didn't try to hide her rabid partisanship. In the name of playing devil's advocate, you were needlessly pessimistic, overtly challenging and bizarrely morbid. There's a difference, Katie, between asking tough questions and asking dishonest questions. It would behoove you to learn that difference. Good questions reveal more about the character of the interviewee than they do the agenda of the interviewer. It would behoove you to learn that, too.
Good night, Katie, and good luck.