Couric Channeled Hillary But Challenges Romney to Denounce Giuliani's 'Character'

Two weeks after she tossed softballs to Hillary Clinton and proclaimed “Clinton exudes confidence,” Katie Couric on Monday night didn't hail Romney's attitude, raised rifts amongst Republicans and pushed Mitt Romney to denounce other GOP presidential candidates. Back on Monday, November 26 she asked Clinton “how do you feel” about Oprah Winfrey campaigning for Back Obama? But exactly two weeks later she doubted the integrity of another candidate and cued up Romney to agree: “Do you think that Rudy Giuliani has the judgment and character to be President of the United States?”

Couric set up her segment with Clinton by relaying how “I asked her about the new, more aggressive tone of her campaign,” but with Romney Couric expressed dissatisfaction, wanting to know “why he didn't spend more time explaining the tenets of his Mormon faith in his speech last week?” And followed up: “In the absence of a religious test, what's wrong with a little religious clarification?” Her second inquiry to Clinton: “How do you feel about” Winfrey campaigning for Obama and “are you concerned that this will give him a big boost?” Her second topic with Romney raised an attack: “In Iowa, Governor Mike Huckabee has TV ads that describe him in quite a prominent way as a Christian leader. Do you think he's trying to draw a distinction between the two of you?” But with Hillary, Couric simply ended by wondering “how disappointed will you be” if you lose? Her last question to Romney: The one quoted above about Giuliani's “judgment” and “character.”

My November 27 NewsBusters item, “Couric's 'Exclusive' with Hillary Clinton Avoids Tough Questions,” provided all the questions aired on the November 26 CBS Evening News interview with Hillary Clinton:
From Concord, New Hampshire, Couric teased the November 26 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Obama versus Clinton.
BARACK OBAMA: We don't need somebody who knows how to play the game better. We need somebody to put an end to the game-playing.

COURIC: But in an exclusive one-on-one interview, Clinton exudes confidence.

COURIC TO CLINTON: If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it will be me.
The questions, plus a flavor on Clinton's replies:
COURIC: I asked her about the new, more aggressive tone of her campaign.

[Hillary Clinton: "I have absorbed a lot of attacks" and "hardly a day goes by when I'm not attacked."]

COURIC: It was announced today that Oprah Winfrey will be campaigning with Senator Obama in three key states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. How do you feel about that?

["I think it's great..."]

COURIC: But are you concerned that this will give him a big boost?

["No..."]

COURIC: If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?

["Well, it will be me..."]

COURIC: I know that you're confident it's going to be you, but there is a possibility it won't be. And clearly you have considered that possibility.

[“No I haven't.”]

COURIC: So you never even consider the possibility?

[“I don't.”]
The introduction and questions in the segment with Romney on the Monday, December 10 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Mitt Romney will air the first Republican-on-Republican attack ad in Iowa tomorrow criticizing Mike Huckabee's record on illegal immigration. Today I talked to Romney about Huckabee and about religion, specifically why he didn't spend more time explaining the tenets of his Mormon faith in his speech last week.

COURIC: Having said that, in the absence of a religious test, what's wrong with a little religious clarification?

COURIC: In Iowa, Governor Mike Huckabee has TV ads that describe him in quite a prominent way as a Christian leader. Do you think he's trying to draw a distinction between the two of you?

COURIC: What do you think of the Huckabee surge in Iowa and nationwide?

COURIC: Do you think that Rudy Giuliani has the judgment and character to be President of the United States?
Online version of the interview.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center