Does Katie Couric lack the gravitas to take over the helm as host and managing editor of CBS News?
Bernard Kalb, former CBS newsie, apparently thinks so. Kalb seems positively exasperated about Couric’s move from the "Today" show to the "CBS Evening News": "You know there is a jarring juxtaposition right now when you have this Edward R. Murrow [film] being shown around the country — ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ — and the hiring of Katie Couric from the NBC ‘Today’ show. It is, in my mind, a clash of civilizations. Katie Couric is identified with interviewing celebrities, you don’t see her being identified with the chaos of the world."
Kalb elaborated, " . . . It seems to me hiring a morning celebrity to move to CBS News — which was once known as the Tiffany network when I worked there — marvelous at what she does in the mornings with her interviews with celebrities, et cetera, but I’m thinking of a world in turmoil, a world in which you need a lot of firsthand experience. You had to have had your foot on the ground to have met these various people in their own environment."
Never mind that, in addition to Couric’s "celebrity" interviews — which include Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and then presidential candidate George W. Bush — she served as assignment editor and producer for CNN, as well as general assignment reporter for NBC’s Washington, D.C., affiliate.
For Kalb, however, color this insufficient: "This is a chaotic world, and people going to the nightly news want to feel confident that they’re hearing the news from someone who is sensitive, who is on, more or less, a first-name basis with some of the troubles in the world. I don’t see that in Katie Couric . . . "
CBS’s Andy (Dan-Rather-is-"transparently-liberal") Rooney didn’t exactly throw down the welcome mat. On the Don Imus show, Rooney said, "I think everybody likes Katie Couric. I mean, how could you not like Katie Couric? But I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here."
Former CBS anchor Walter (most-reporters-are-liberal-because-they’re-"open-minded") Cronkite admitted that Couric’s salary made him jealous. Larry King asked Cronkite, "You have any envy — for want of a better word — about $15 million a year?" "Well, now, that is envy, yes," said Cronkite. "I place my envy right before you." "What’s the most you made there, if I may ask?" questioned King. "Under a million dollars . . . " said Cronkite, "as the anchor man. And it was a very satisfactory salary. I thought, at the time — until the million dollar fellows came in."
Now, how about a real concern about Couric — that of her liberalism. The Media Research Center compiled some of Couric’s questions, statements and opinions, including:
"Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That’s one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that’s drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today . . . " — Introducing "Today" on Sept. 27, 1999. Two days later, Reagan biographer Edmund Morris told Couric on "Today" that he never called Ronald Reagan "an airhead," and that Reagan was "a very bright man."
"Break out the band, bring on the drinks," NBC correspondent Keith Miller reported from Paris. "The French are calling it a miracle. A government-mandated 35-hour workweek is changing the French way of life." After hearing Miller’s report, Couric gushed: "The French, they’ve got it right, don’t they?" — "Today," Aug. 1, 2001.
"The school lunch program, by all accounts, has been incredibly successful, as has the WIC program, and obviously provides good nutrition for children, which is so crucial for development and education. Since the states won’t have to adhere to any federal guidelines and they can basically do their own thing, aren’t you worried that we’re going to go back to the days when Ronald Reagan suggested that ketchup and relish be designated as vegetables?" — To Rep. Duke Cunningham, Feb. 22, 1995. [Reagan never suggested that.]
Remember Andrea Yates, the mother who drowned her five kids? Couric encouraged viewers to send contributions to Yates’ legal defense fund, while the screen displayed the address for the fund. Couric told viewers any additional money would go to nonprofits that deal with "postpartum depression."
At the risk of causing further depression, please be advised that Couric’s "Today" show replacement, Meredith Vieira, seems worse. USA Today said Vieira’s critics call her an "anti-war liberal." Just anti-war? Sure, she’s admitted that on "The View." But she also moved into Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore-land, accusing Bush of lying us into war. "Everything’s been built on lies," said Vieira. "Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war."
Seventy-four percent of Republicans, according to a poll a few years ago, consider mainstream media biased to the left. And get this. Nearly 50 percent of Democrats say "most journalists are more liberal than they are."
So, Katie and Meredith, we’ll be watching. Or at least some of us.