Couric: 'I Feel Like Right Now in Many Ways, We’re a Very Angry Nation'
Angry, frustrated, troubled, disappointed, disgust, disrespect - words not normally associated with holiday season. However, they were words Katie Couric used to describe where she sees the mood of country right now.
Couric, the anchor of the "CBS Evening News," in a live Facebook video chat on Dec. 22, took on illustrating her view of the populace - a not very sunny picture (emphasis added).
"I think more distant - I hate to say that, but I think, I think the economic situation in this country, I think, when people are struggling, that sometimes they need a place to vent their rage and to channel their rage and I think, I feel like right now in many ways, we're a very angry nation," Couric said. "Very frustrated, troubled and disappointed in many ways in terms of people feeling that the American dream just isn't within their reach. I mean I still think it's a place of incredible opportunity and entrepreneurship. But I just think that, I don't know - maybe it's because what I do for a living, I feel that the country is pretty polarized right now."
Couric's view reflected a similar one expressed by NBC's "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory - that the era of post-partisanship hasn't arrived in Washington, D.C., a theme President Barack Obama ran on during the 2008 campaign and that everything is "polarized." She also added that there is much to be desired when it comes to the way people are expressing themselves (emphasis added).
"And whenever I think it's not going to get more polarized, it seems to," Couric said. "And you know, I'm all for people having free speech and expressing their views and we've talk about this a lot and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I wish there was a way for all of us to discuss our differences without being - digging in our heels so much and being respectful of other people's points of view. But it all seems to be expressed through kind of a prism of anger and disgust and disrespect, which I find really - really troubling and upsetting."
The "CBS Evening News" anchor alluded to specific issues being used as which she called "political footballs," specifically the issue du jour - health care reform.
"Well, I think that's true," Couric said. "I mean, we did see health care pass, but you know, it seems like everything is used - policy issues are used as political footballs more than anything else and that the party in power, you know, tries to get their agenda through. Ostensibly, I guess that's the right thing to do - they're the party in power and they're the people who were elected, where the party out of power tends to be obstructionist and I think it must be very frustrating for people outside the beltway, including myself, to watch transpire because, you know, there doesn't seem to be much compromise. Well - there was compromise in the health care bill, but much dialogue, I guess in terms of what each side would want."
Couric suggested the "let's just all try to get along" tack, echoed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But she also referred to a statistic that 45,000 people die as a result of not having access to health care.
"Maybe I'm naïve and idealistic, but you would hope that there could be some conversations taking place where people, you know, really respected one another and talked about the different goals that they had because I think providing health care for people who can't afford it is something that most people do agree with - that there has to be some kind of alternative other than our national, our nation's emergency rooms for people who need health care," Couric said. "And I read somewhere - I think it was the New Yorker - that 45,000 people died needlessly because they simply don't have access to health care and that just seems so unfair and so undemocratic."
That statistic was actually reported on the "CBS Evening News" back on Sept. 17, 2009. But it also so happens to be a number generated by Physicians for a National Health Program, which was discovered to be "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program."
Couric did challenge how the current health care reform legislation is being brokered in the U.S. Senate, including concessions made to the states of Louisiana and Nebraska, to secure certain votes for passage of the bill.
"But you know, I think that there are a lot of concerns about the legislation and how it was hammered out and some of the gifts, not gifts, but some of the quid pro quo, at least ostensibly appear that way, given to certain states to win over support from those senators - that just seems ultimately, I think implicitly unfair in terms of how the system works," Couric said.