Sunday, April 08, 2007

Couric Misses The Ethical Bar In ’60 Minutes’ Interview
By Mark Moran

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric’s interview of John and Elizabeth Edwards on ’60 Minutes’ began as an impartial human-interest story involving cancer, coping, and the question of work vs. family. But unexpectedly, Couric threw the Edwardses a curve ball when she insinuated that the presidential hopeful was choosing his campaign over his family. Obviously, this “question” was as loaded as a frat boy on spring break.

The Edwardses seemed unabashed by Couric’s biased comment and answered the supposed question as if she had asked what was their favorite ice cream flavor. In fact, as she spat out questions that became progressively more attacking, the Edwardses not only kept their composure, but also seemed more sincere. Unlike many politicians who skillfully dodge unflattering questions, the couple faced each harsh inquiry head on. The Edwards appeared to come out on top due to their heartfelt and articulate responses in the face of what some would say, were insults ending with a question mark.

Couric, who is best known for her light hearted news reporting on “The Today Show” showed her audience how cold she could be. Throughout the interview, Couric didn’t smile, nod to show a consideration of the Edwardses’ answers, or any of her hospitable body language that was often seen on “The Today Show.” By doing this, Couric exaggerated the warm and likable aspects of the Edwardses by being the exact opposite. The colder the questions became, the warmer the Edwardses’ answers appeared in contrast.

By the end of the segment, the interview seemed to have degenerated into a near no holds barred attack by Couric. At several points she overstepped the line between journalist and subject. When Couric brought the Edwardses’ two children into her line of questioning, the interview left the realm of journalism and became a debate over family values. This debate, however, did not seem to involve the clashing of the Edwardses’ and American public’s values, but rather, the Edwardses’ and Couric’s values.

Couric is an esteemed journalist whom many viewers respect. However, throughout this interview she started to resemble Geraldo Rivera more so than a CBS news anchor. The level of journalism that Couric has attained and its accompanying professionalism was not represented in this interview. When you are making seven figures to report the news the ethical bar is set high. Unfortunately, Couric couldn’t seem to reach it in this interview.

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