Sunday, April 08, 2007

'60 Minutes' Interview With John & Elizabeth Edwards

Couric Steps Up To The Plate And Strikes Out With Viewers
By Matt Rasmussen

The recent ‘60 Minutes’ segment featuring presidential hopeful John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth has brought on a veritable tidal wave of controversy, and most of it does not have to do with the Interviewee.

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, who has been chastised by critics due to her reputation for offering up notoriously easy questions is now catching flack for a hardball interview in which she suggested Edwards is putting his family second, and that the Edwardses appeared to be in denial.

While valid, Couric was disconcerting in her decision to often refer to the ever-mysterious group of “some people”, using it as a way to wedge in loaded questions without attempting to make herself look bad. At one point, Couric offered up, “some say, what you're doing is courageous, others say it's callous. Some say, "Isn't it wonderful they care for something greater than themselves?" And others say, "It's a case of insatiable ambition."” While this wasn’t an unwarranted question on it’s own, the hypothetical appearance of ‘some people’ comes off as irresponsible and cowardly.

In addition to an influx of complaints sent to the CBS website, other anchors are also taking aim at Couric. “I can’t believe most people watching that with children wouldn’t ask, ‘Why is Katie Couric passing judgment on these people?’ said Chuck Scarborough, on his MSNBC program “Scarborough Country” the day after the interview aired.

Commenters on popular Left-wing blog, “Talk Left” received the interview poorly, on the whole. One commenter, posting under the name “Jeralyn” said: “I was surprised at how negative she was. Everything from her repeatedly asking the same thing, to her stern expression. I was thinking she was trying to prove she can be a tough interviewer.” Another, under the handle “xyz” responded more extremely: “will someone please put Couric out of her, and my, misery?”

Despite harsh questioning, it’s more than apparent the Edwardses were ready for them. Edwards seemed poised and answered each question with a prepackaged and homogenized answer. Elizabeth, who showed just the slightest shred of emotion, didn’t have a particularly difficult time either.

Besides carefully choreographed answers, the fact that they appeared at all let the world know they were ready to be challenged for their decision to stay in the race. ‘60 Minutes’ executive producer, Jeff Fager surmises: “by agreeing to appear on “60 Minutes” so quickly after the diagnosis, John and Elizabeth Edwards were clearly eager to discuss the issues”.

Making a campaign stop in San Francisco, Edwards said he found the questions “tough, but they were fair.” Elizabeth Edwards called Couric to thank her for the interview.

While this interview and a press conference last week have gotten Edwards quite a bit of attention, he is not the only candidate dealing with health concerns. Former Massachusetts’s Governor Mitt Romney discussed his wife, Ann’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis on “Larry King Live” this month. Rudy Giuliani makes it a point to talk to his bout with prostate cancer, and McCain of his battle with skin cancer.

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