January 16, 2005

CBS News: Stupid or Malicious?

Today Drudge is upping the ante on a rumor that's been floating around for over a month - that NBC's Today host Katie Couric will be tapped to replace Dan Rather as CBS Nightly News anchor. Drudge is reporting that she has actually been approached with the offer. Famously labeled "the affable Eva Braun of morning TV" by Ann Coulter, Couric has for years given countless softball interviews to lefties, while going tooth and claw after any conservative who dared to show his or her face on the Today show. (Coulter herself willingly strode into the maelstrom to pitch a book, resulting in a memorable battle.)

With the possible exception of ABC's Peter Jennings, no other surviving top-tier network news "personality" has been so often vilified as a left-wing operative as Couric. A public response site called RateItAll actually has her down as slightly more biased than Rather.

The Media Research Center has prepared a a list of Katie's greatest slips, which clearly puts her prejudices on display. Even Rather would be hard pressed to match it. Audiences don't seem to mind television personalities expressing their views, but they do mind when those personalities slyly embed a viewpoint and act as if the audience isn't smart enough to notice. Rather and Couric are very much alike in their disdain for the intellect of their audience.

Is CBS News management so blind that even after the Rathergate furor it still cannot perceive its own biases? I doubt it. Hiring Couric would be such an obvious mistake that it seems more like defiance than a calculated business decision. CBS News was caught trying to manipulate a U.S. Presidential Election by airing false information. Instead of dealing with those who used CBS News as a vehicle for fraud - Dan Rather is still employed - management is instead enraged at those who caught them. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that from sheer spite management intends to preserve unchanged the tone and biases of its coverage. It's fortunate that Dan Rather has already rendered CBS News irrelevant, because such childishness could under other circumstances be very dangerous.

Posted by Sterling at 04:12 PM GMT

Let me get this straight. Couric is horribly biased because she dared to call Coulter on lies which Coulter had published about her in her book. The fat that she had Coulter on her show at all after Coulter had made her "Eva Braun" comment would say more about Couric, I think. You then point to a poll which says that Peter Jennings is more biased than Bill O'Reilly, at which point I simply cease to understand what the word "biased" could possibly mean. In any case, however, I'm wondering what you're looking for here. A newscaster without opinions?

Posted by: Felix on January 16, 2005 06:08 PM

No she is biased because she hates America. Every story she does has America wrong - no mater what! Because she hates America she would be agood fit at Viacom.

Posted by: Rod Stanton on January 16, 2005 07:36 PM

So what's your take on Armstrong WIlliams, Sterling?

Posted by: Marc on January 16, 2005 09:57 PM

It's all about presentation, Felix. Bill O'Reilly doesn't pretend to be the objective voice of truth, or a neutral party - though he does pretend to be sane. Dan Rather does. Peter Jennings does. Katie Couric does.

A better example would be Brit Hume. Brit Hume is a conservative. Everyone knows it. He does nothing to conceal it, and I actually trust his integrity.

Rod - She probably does believe that America is usually wrong in its foreign, social and economic policy, but I couldn't speak authoritatively on what goes on in her head.

Marc - I already wrote about it on Felix's Kos post. Here's what I wrote:

The idea that journalism is somehow more sanctified than any other profession is silly. The idea that media has definable boundaries is equally silly.
Everybody has reasons for what they do and say. Unless a person is acting in a fiduciary role, or other role for which they've sworn an oath to pursue interests higher than their own, then their motives are their own and they're entitled to them.
Maybe we've reached the point where we need some kind of fusion between notary public and editor for information distribution: a bonded wire service.
Williams' syndication contract almost certainly had wording dealing with exactly this sort of thing. I expected he violated those terms, and was dropped as a result. But I feel no more moral outrage than when Paul Harvey makes an ad for Bose radio sound like a news story, or when radio DJs get payola. They are individual agents not beholden to me and I can turn them off.

However, when a broadcast licensee deliberately twists the truth, that's a problem. It's a violation of the terms of its license. I fully believe that CBS should lose its broadcast license over Rathergate, because I believe CBS News mgmt showed a pattern of behavior over many years of smearing Republicans and glorifying Democrats, independent of reality. The FCC broadcast license does not permit licensees to knowingly broadcast falsehoods.

Posted by: Sterling on January 16, 2005 10:43 PM

don't you at least feel some moral outrage at the adminstration burning a quarter of million on some chump who would have pitched for them anyway?

Posted by: Marc on January 17, 2005 10:52 AM

If I felt moral outrage every time the Feddle Gummint blew a quarter of a million on some stupid thing or another, I'd have died from ulcers years ago.

Posted by: Sterling on January 17, 2005 12:35 PM

How about not liking Couric on grounds that she's just a shoddy interviewer (forget reporter)?

Posted by: Jen on January 19, 2005 02:55 AM

The greatest slips collection appears to stretch the definition of bias somewhat. On the other hand, Couric was quoted in Private Eye's new Tsunamiballs section this week:

"Everybody I know, they were very upset this weekend about this... And I actually called our newsdesk on Saturday and said: 'I know that we have this tsunami thing going on, and - and all these people, but is it true that they [Brad & Jenn] broke up?' ... I can't believe I'm so invested in this, but I just feel bad."

Posted by: Auz on January 20, 2005 11:32 PM

Katie Couric would transform the nightly news cast. She's smart and sexy. The only thing I would miss is not seeing her goregous legs in the a.m.

Posted by: Anthony McFalls on January 24, 2005 06:12 PM

Bottom Line: Couric is one of the best news readers in the business and not bad to look at either!

Posted by: Rick on January 27, 2005 06:02 PM