Couric: Conservative 'freeSpeech' Segment Might Be Found 'Repugnant'

According to CBS Evening News host Katie Couric, a Monday installment of its "freeSpeech" segment, which espoused a strong conservative viewpoint, could be viewed as "repugnant." The issue was discussed on tonight's episode of The O'Reilly Factor (Wednesday, October 4, 2006).In light of Monday's shooting at a Pennsylvania Amish school, CBS invited Brian Rohrbough, the father of a victim of the 1999 Columbine school massacre, to speak on "freeSpeech."Quite simply, Mr. Rohrbough delivered a powerful and thoughtful editorial. His commentary is a must-read/must-see (link (with video)). Among other things, Mr. Rohrbough said:

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children. Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. And we are seeing an epidemic increase in murder-suicide attacks on our children. Sadly, our schools are not safe ...

Apparently, Rohrbough's words were a little too much for some people to handle. On her blog, Katie reported that she was bombarded with e-mails over the segment. She acknowledged that she received both positive and negative feedback, but part of her response appeared sympathetic to those who were critical of the segment. Wrote Couric,

We knew when we decided to put on this segment that a lot of people would disagree with it. We also knew some might even find it repugnant. (Some of you made that point loud and clear!)

"Repugnant"? As Bill O'Reilly articulated on his show tonight, by using the word "repugnant," Couric left the impression that she was diminishing the legitimacy of what Rohrbough had to say. Said Bill:

Why would any fair-minded person find Mr. Rohrbough's opinion "repugnant"? You can disagree with the man, but using a word like "repugnant" marginalizes his legitimate opinion. Millions of Americans see it the way Mr. Rohrbough does. Now I don't believe Ms. Couric meant to demean the man, but her words reflect the elitist attitude common in network news and in the general media. Using the word "repugnant" might restore Ms. Couric's cocktail party credibility, but it is an unfortunate choice of words ... The truth is that conservative and traditional P.O.V.'s (points of view) are rarely heard on network newscasts and are usually met with eye rolls by the PC anchors ... Everyone can see how uncomfortable [the segment] has made the network. That should not be the case.

Amen, Bill. This entire episode/uproar provides clear-cut evidence of a liberal bias in mainstream media. If views like Rohrbough's were heard more regularly, what would be the big deal? Views like Rohrbough's are so rarely aired in the mainstream media news that CBS Evening News executive producer Rome Hartman felt compelled to publicly remark that he knew the commentary "would be controversial, perhaps even offensive to some" (emphasis mine). As O'Reilly articulated, millions of conservatives (not all, mind you) found nothing "repugnant," "controversial," or "offensive" about anything Rohrbough said; it's how they think, too!To her credit, on her blog, Couric added,

When we approached Brian Rohrbough and asked him his thoughts about this latest school shooting, this essay was the result. We understood that people may disagree with what he said, and with what he believes. But censoring or attempting to re-shape his opinion would be antithetical to the very idea of free speech. This is a nation built on dialogue and debate. And, most importantly, on freedom of speech. As George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Dave Pierre
Dave Pierre is a contributing writer to NewsBusters and the creator of TheMediaReport.com.