Sunday, April 08, 2007

Couric Interview Raised Doubts About Edwards’ Campaign Decision
By Julie Buntin

Anytime an interviewer is faced with discussing literally, a life and death situation, they will have a more difficult time. The questions Katie Couric posed to former Senator John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth regarding her spreading cancer and his decision to continue as a presidential candidate were challenging not only for their bluntness, but because they handle issues every human being must face.

Couric’s interview has been criticized for being too harsh. The problem did not lie with the intensity of the questions—which were appropriate. Senator Edwards is running for the position of the Democratic Presidential Candidate and anything could potentially affect his leadership deserves to be scrutinized by the American people, no matter how personal, which Senator Edwards agrees with in the interview. What gave the interview a skewed, uncomfortable sense was a quality of deep personal involvement displayed by Couric, which gained momentum as the questions progressed.

While Couric’s personal history with a loved one’s cancer may make her more highly qualified to conduct such a survey, statements like, “…I guess some people would say that there's some middle ground. You don't have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, and do nothing. But, if given a finite – a possibly finite period of time on the planet – being on the campaign trail, away from my children, a lot of time, and sort of pursuing this goal, is not, necessarily, what I'd do…” passes a lot of judgment on the interviewees, whether or not that judgment is intentional.

No listener can come away from a statement like that and not notice the slight, indirect way Couric condemns John and Elizabeth Edwards. Other statements, like when Couric refers to the Edwards’s children as “baby birds,” in addition to questions about the Senator’s ability to remain an undistracted leader while his wife faces a terminal illness feel excessive and callous. Often it is like Couric is the greatest doubter of the situation and the decision made by Senator John Edwards and his wife.

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