This is for you, Katie Couric

Dear Katie,

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?

I'm not sure exactly how many people still, for some unknown reason, consider you a journalist. I suppose you can't really blame them if they do, seeing as you are indeed the host of a nightly news broadcast. The same one, in fact, Walter Cronkite once hosted. You, Katie, are no Walter Cronkite. And on the same network, in fact, for whom Edward R. Murrow once worked. You, Katie, are no Edward R. Murrow. But those who saw your interview of the Edwardses Sunday night witnessed firsthand not only how much the field of journalism has suffered of late, but also how poorly amateurs like you have treated it. In other words, calling you a journalist is like calling President Bush a sophisticate.

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.

Tags: 60 Minutes, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards, Katie Couric (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

well said

I decided not to watch CBS evening news anymore when, on her first night, she announced she would have Rush Limbaugh on the program.  Watching that interview confirmed I was right.

by John DE 2007-03-25 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

Oh balance, I thought the Edwards came out of this interview looking great. A big plus and free advertising for the campaign.

by johnalive 2007-03-25 07:18PM | 0 recs
shocked Couric didn't

ask cancer experts what they think.

apparently it's almost unanimous among experts that Elizabeth is doing the right thing

by TarHeel 2007-03-26 04:00AM | 0 recs
and Katie Couric

did an on-air colonoscopy of herself...

very odd she didn't mention her husband dying at 42 from canceer

by TarHeel 2007-03-26 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric
Katie is more sophisticated than you give her credit for. She is a jounalist, and possibly one of the best. She has mannerisms that entice whom ever she's interviewing to be open, and serious. She isn't afraid of asking the hard and right questions, in fact, she loves it.
 Katie doesn't own CBS, therefore doesn't set the policies, and anyone politically aware knows the right-wing as activists. If she mentions Rush, she's entered into a different arena, targeted by the insatible appetite of the political pundit media wars, and it raises Rush profile even more.
 Would that serve her role well, she may have to attend Political Conventions, space launchings, indeed even State Funerals, and a host of activities requiring integrity that she may lose in a dog fight.
 Keep Katie from being at least harrassed, or even more. These people we both dislike are not well adjusted.
by David D 2007-03-25 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

Check out Harry Shearer's site on found objects and Katie Couric.

by adamterando 2007-03-25 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

I don't agree. At one time Katie Couric was a good journalist, but not anymore. Here's what I said earlier at another blog to the same posting:

"Couric has become an embarrassment of the journalistic fraternity now. She's turned into a mean-spirited, rank amateur, endowed with a tin ear, intellectually and morally dense, unaware of her lack of sensitivity, and altogether unattractive as a human being.

Whatever happened to the happy, forthright and well-meaning anchor of the morning show? Most of us can't bear to watch her anymore. Shouldn't she return back to what she did well at one time? No amount of money is worth what has happened to her today..."

by mobiusein 2007-03-25 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

1. This is a scary argument: To protect poor Katie from attacks by wingnuts we should tolerate her biased, underhanded interviews?
It's ugly when wingnuts attack and threaten federal judges, so should we support appointees like Sam Alito or Priscilla Owen?

2. Your first paragraph contradicts your second paragraph: Any good journalist, let alone "one of the best" will write her own questions. Certainly the ownership of networks affects their overall political slant, but this is manifest in bigger-picture choices, such as who/what to cover and for how long at what times, not the questions that are asked in each interview. The complaint here is that Katie was asking bad, and seemingly biased questions.

3. If Rush is the only person who claimed Edwards was taking political advantage of his wife's cancer, then it is not a question that should be asked about. Certainly not one that should be asked in a way to make it seems like many feel that way and protects Rush by allowing him annonimity. IF there were many people who did feel that way, then she could have quoted any of them or mentioned a poll. If no one seems to think this way, and she still want's to ask the question then, she should say, "I think" and reveal her crass personal bias.

It's just absurd to imply that rightwing bias is OK if it protects Katie from losing integrity she might need to cover a state funeral!?

by jujube 2007-03-25 11:09PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

Didn't John and Elizabeth Edwards "agree" to appear on Katie's show?  They are fully aware of what Katie is like and the kinds of questions they would be asked.  Nobody twisted their arms. I would imagine they wanted that publicity.

Why are folks blaming Katie?

I have great respect for Elizabeth Edwards but I hope the Cancer/Campaign issue won't become a traveling road show.

by marasaud 2007-03-25 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

The Edwards did agree to go on the show. Katie is not being criticized for having them as guests, but for asking bad, slanted questions once they were there.

They did get good publicity out of it, and I would guess, benefited, but that doesn't mean Katie should be let of the hook for behaving badly, even if she didn't cause as much damage as she could have.

I hope the Cancer/Campaign issue won't become a traveling road show.

This sounds awfully crass. Probably you didn't mean it that way, but maybe you can give them three days before you start picking on Elizabeth for having cancer?

by jujube 2007-03-25 11:14PM | 0 recs
google images

and you can see couric having an on-air colonoscopy because her husband died of colon canceer

by TarHeel 2007-03-26 04:38AM | 0 recs
A Strangely Negative Interviewer

I saw the interview, and I thought Katie was just egregious.  

Virtually every single question had a negative angle, a negative premise.  Aren't you in denial?  Aren't you short changing your wife, your kids?  Isn't this cynical?  I mean her negative barrage was unrelenting, totally one sided, with not a single question about grace, dignity, courage, self-sacrifice for a greater cause, or the issues that both of them feel are important.  There was no balance whatsoever in the questions she chose.  It was almost as if Rush Limbaugh were asking the questions.  

Of course, this one-sided interview reminded me of the hatchet job 60 Minutes did on Barack Obama a few weeks ago.  That piece was also unrelenting in its negativity towards Obama.  I just had to shake my head watching that one.  I get the impression that the media powers of New York are never going to give Obama and Edwards a break.  They want Hillary Clinton all the way.

by Demo37 2007-03-25 09:33PM | 0 recs
All true, and I agree with you

but I don't think it hurts Edwards to be able to answer these kinds of questions. People in general are going to be mean-spirited, cynical and rude, and over the course of a campaign there will be no shortage of that attitude reaching the candidates. Personally I think it is a great thing that John and Liz can answer these types of questions as well as they did.

by mihan 2007-03-26 04:06AM | 0 recs
something to keep in mind

Katie Couric lost her husband to colon cancer.  I didn't see the interview and have no idea whether that's relevant or not.  

by RickD 2007-03-26 02:32AM | 0 recs
Re: something to keep in mind

Well it seemed to me that she may have been giving voice to some of what she may have been subjected to when he was in treatment and continued working. Of course that was many years ago and attitudes have changed in most areas.

The big problem seems to me that there was NO BALANCE.

by del 2007-03-26 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

I saw the interview and I am an Edwards supporter.  I don't watch the CBS evening news and never watched Katie Couric in the AM.

I found the original post here pretty off target in terms of getting what the interview was all about.  

It seemed simple enough to me.  This is a big news item, the powerful part of which is not in background pieces with cancer experts, or lengthy bio background researched excerpts, or interviews with larry sabato or other prognosticators or historians.  

The powerful part of this story, that presumably CBS wanted to tap in to, was the insights in to what the Edwards' are thinking and how they are handling this.  

Nothing explains that better than the Edwards' own words both at their news conference and in this interview.  The story is just them talking and answering all the questions that are doubtless on the minds of many Americans who are somewhat aware of the story but have not heard directly from the Edwards'.

All Katie was doing was being a lightweight conduit for what are the basic questions a lot of folks have, to which only the Edwards' answers are legitimate.

That she was covering for Rush and other un-named right wing Faux News folks is off the mark.  Maybe she is more in touch with the American people than some of the posters and commenters here.

Maybe we are so steeped in political cyncism and conspiracy we can't even see what might be a simple format for giving the American public the opportunity to hear the Edwards' talk about this very personal subject and address their truly american pop-curiousity.

by Orlando 2007-03-26 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

I agree.  My wife found her questions distasteful, but they represented a type of thinking I saw quite a bit of in comment threads - and not on rightwing blogs, but on DailyKos and MyDD.

And, despite the tactlessness or silliness of many of the questions, the Edwardses were extremely calm and thoughtful in their responses. Good for them.

I think the only other Couric 60 Minutes interview I've ever seen was with Condi Rice. Now that I found offensive - a total puff piece. She had a chance to grill one of the top members of one of history's most incompetent administrations, and she instead asked her questions about dating and marriage.

by Rob in Vermont 2007-03-26 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

I have to gently disagree with you Orlando.  Obviously, there are many different angles that can be taken with this story.  It would be silly to suggest that there is only "one" story here.  

In this case, Katie chose a single, uniform perspective with her questions.  She criticized the Edwards in every single question!!!  And she was grimacing throughout the entire interview, which is means....what...she has to go to the bathroom?  
It is true that one angle to take on the Edwards here is negative, but it is a stretch to suggest that ALL of America had a negative reaction to them.  In fact, countless other stories suggested just the opposite; namely, that a majority of the people saw something positive in them here, such things as courage, dignity and perseverence.  Katie was totally one sided here.

by Demo37 2007-03-26 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

Thanks for being gentle.  I am still with Rob in Vermont, who was even gentler in his response:)

It may not have been the only story, but it was a legitimate one.  It may be that one's window on legitimacy is framed by the comments and questions you have heard on this subject in the last few days.  

Maybe it is unfortunate, but the questions I have heard and read )not on right wing sites which I don't visit) were along the lines of the 60 minutes interview.

My conspiracy in the other direction would be that if you lob a series of softballs up and the person hits them out of the park, do you complain about bad pitching.

These were all softball obvious questions that reflect IMHO kind of where America's fascination with the story is.

Thanks for 60 minutes for giving them a chance to share the kind of beauty that too few of us witnessed at the original news conference (mid day on CNN is not prime time on Sunday night network following the Elite Eight).

by Orlando 2007-03-26 11:40AM | 0 recs
How About A Balanced Interview?

I am not suggesting she should have conducted an interview with only softballs.  But are we really faced with only two options here, two extremes?  Nope.  The obvious answer, I think, was to conduct a balanced interview.  

As far as Katie Couric's questions allegedly reflecting the views of "the people" out there, I have managed to read hundreds of opinions on this particular issue, and there is NO WAY that Katie Couric's unrelenting, grimacing attacks reflected what Americans are thinking on this issue.  There are many facets and points of fascination here, not simply negative, cynical perspectives.  And the ratio of positive perspectives to negative perspectives seems to me to be about 100 to 1. Katie had it at 0 to 100.  

As I saw it, she and her producers decided to collect all the nastiest, most mean-sprited comments and hurl them at John and Elizabeth.  And you are right:  they handled this refuse dump with grace, dignity and courage.  

by Demo37 2007-03-26 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: How About A Balanced Interview?

I was suggesting that what she was throwing out were softballs.  Look how they were handled.  Look how general and easy to hit at they were.

I will concede that maybe I am half right, and this is half of what America had on its mind at the time, but also maybe half wrong.

I just talked to my grandparents and they both thought KC was extremely negative and one-sided.  Honestly that helped the Edwards' more, but it does make your point.

by Orlando 2007-03-26 05:05PM | 0 recs
Hillary Clinton's Spouse

It is true that Hillary Clinton's spouse is also not entirely well.  His heart condition (attack?) was so serious he had to have triple bypass surgery.  Yipes.  

I do wonder why no mainstream journalists have discussed this.  What is Bill Clinton's prognosis?  What treatment is Bill Clinton receiving?  Is he taking a number of statin drugs to thin his blood?  What is the average life expectency of someone with his particular condition, at his age?  Is he campaigning full force, or does he have to moderate his schedule and travels because of concerns for his health?  What did his doctor say about the stress of campaigning and watching out for his health?    

by Demo37 2007-03-26 07:44AM | 0 recs
Quadruple bypass!!!

not your lowly triple..

check out wikipedia...

by TarHeel 2007-03-26 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: This is for you, Katie Couric

Well said! I saw snippets of the Couric-Edwards interview... and was disgusted by her cruel, gossipy questioning of Elizabeth and John Edwards.

Now I understand why Couric's CBS news program is sinking like a rock to the bottom of a lake. She's a horrible interviewer, and certainly no journalist.

Katie, go back to soft "news," where you can flash your legs and be center of attention again.

Your intrusive cruelty under the guise of "journalism" blackens the name of responsible journalists. At best, you have very bad judgment.

by Deborah White 2007-03-26 04:34PM | 0 recs

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