On Regis & Kelly, Couric Defends Daschle and Obama, Snarls at Critics

Fresh from her interview with President Obama, CBS anchor Katie Couric appeared on Wednesday’s Live with Regis and Kelly. She defended Tom Daschle’s tax evasion. "But in fairness to him, and I don't know all the ins and of it, but he was given a limousine by a private equity fund that I guess he was consulting for, and I don't think he realized perhaps" it was taxable income. She agreed with Kelly Ripa that losing Daschle is a big blow: "I think he's really well liked, he’s very knowledgeable on health care."

Couric also protested New York Post and Daily News photos of Obama, where he looked glum at the bad Daschle news: "That was an unfair picture. He was in a second grade class -- listening to a second grader. It makes it sound as if one of his Cabinet, or officials was telling him really bad news." Couric also whacked at her critics: "I always try to be sanguine about it and think, you know, always, it says more about the person who's writing it than often it does about the subject, about their own issues."

Regis began with the common assumption that Tom Daschle should have been much more forthcoming with the Obama transition team than he was:

REGIS PHILBIN: Why don't they tell him when the get-go, when they hear a little rumor that they might be nominated for something. If they have a problem, why don’t they come clean and say ‘don't even get involved with me’?

KATIE COURIC: You know, I know, I think they had a questionnaire that he did not necessarily say he had tax issues on the questionnaire. But in fairness to him, and I don't know all the ins and of it, but he was given a limousine by a private equity fund that I guess he was consulting for, and I don't think he realized perhaps, I mean, you wonder who's doing their taxes. Like H&R Block or TurboTax or whatever? Not that there's anything wrong with H&R Block but you know, when you're at that high level, you really want to make sure --

KELLY RIPA: Have an expert that says ‘That has to be declared.’

COURIC: – And I don't think he kNew initially that that would be considered taxable income or something. So it ended up obviously he paid something, all told, $140,000 but I think after tim geithner and then a deputy of the OMB had to withdraw because she had her own tax issues. I think that the Obama administration realized, as did Tom Daschle, that that the appearance it gave to the public was [bad] – especially for a man who campaigned on ethics reform.

PHILBIN: Absolutely. It's embarrassing.

RIPA: It’s a big blow, because Tom Daschle was such a key element.

COURIC: I think he's really well liked, he’s very knowledgeable on health care. I think he’s actually been working on health care reform issues up to this point since he, you know, didn't win re-election. So think it is a big blow.

Regis asked about how Obama was handling the stimulus bill, and Couric explained he was trying to take out "what could be construed as partisan pet projects" out of the legislation (Philbin interjected "It’s called pork!"), and then Couric volunteered how cool Obama is:

COURIC: But he's so relaxed, you guys. You know?

PHILBIN: Oh, yeah. He's terrific in the interviews.

COURIC: Yeah. He's relaxed and confident, and you know --

PHILBIN: Looked a little glum in today’s papers, though, with that bad news.

COURIC: That was an unfair picture. He was in a second grade class --

RIPA: He was sitting in a child’s seat.

COURIC: – listening to a second grader. It makes it sound as if one of his Cabinet, or officials was telling him really bad news. He was listening to a second grader. That's why those pictures are not necessarily fair.

PHILBIN: Really? The press would do that to a guy?

After a commercial break, the trio of TV stars returned to discuss Katie’s new Barbara Walters-style interview show with musical stars to air before the Grammy Awards. But first, Regis asked about the bad press of the last few years:

PHILBIN: Everybody loves Katie Couric. And incidentally, how are things now with your anchoring? In the beginning, the papers every day.

COURIC: Yeah. I had a baptism by fire. I think, you know, I’ve settled into the job. I'm really proud of the quality of work that everybody at CBS News does.

PHILBIN: They’re terrific at it.

COURIC: And I think we did -- if I can say this, I think we did a really good job covering the campaign.

PHILBIN: Was it tough in the beginning to live through that?

COURIC: Yeah, of course. I mean, nobody really likes to be trashed constantly, like on an hourly basis. [Laughs] But you know, I always try to be sanguine about it and think, you know, always it says more about the person who's writing it than often it does about the subject, about their own issues. So anyway, that makes me feel better.

RIPA: But you're a terrific role model for women and young girls and really about hard work and about what hard work does and how it does pays off.

The interview wrapped up with joking about Couric's "crush" on Regis, and two goofy shots from a recent birthday party of Katie's (she's wearing black gloves):

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis