Couric Touts Nine-Minute Michael J. Fox Puff Job As 'Distinguishing Television'
Howard Kurtz takes up his Monday space with another soft-soap interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric and how she is "still gaining acceptance," as Dana Carvey's George Bush used to say about Dan Quayle. The story ends with CBS president Sean McManus fussing she's "under more scrutiny than probably any other person in television history." If that's so, the oppressive scrutiny certainly isn't coming from Kurtz.
The whole story focuses on inside baseball, the nuts and bolts of whether the CBS newscast is more soft news than hard news. Even when Kurtz turned to Couric promoting Michael J. Fox and embryo-killing stem cell research, it's only the reaction inside CBS that seems worth noting:
Couric's longest interview, which drew the most flak within CBS, was a discussion with Michael J. Fox. She spoke to the actor after Rush Limbaugh accused him of exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms during commercials for Democratic candidates who support stem cell research. Some CBS staffers were upset that she devoted nine minutes, or nearly half the newscast, to the subject. Couric made sure to disclose that she has contributed to Fox's foundation, and that her father suffers from Parkinson's.
"People can grouse about it," Couric says of the interview, "but it was distinguishing television."
She is aggravated by some of the pundit potshots about the broadcast's news quotient. "I just think we got an unfair rap, and unfortunately it was perpetrated by people who didn't take the time to watch the show," Couric says.
Kurtz doesn't go into the show's high liberal-bias quotient when it isn't focusing on Brangelina. The Michael J. Fox interview wasn't controversial just because it was long, but because it was one-sided. As Brent Baker noted in October:
With video of Fox behind her, Couric portrayed [Rush] Limbaugh as the aggressor: "The battle over embryonic stem cell research turns ugly, and he is a target." Though Fox's ads denounce Republicans and insidiously suggest they are against curing his disease, Couric never challenged Fox on the false charges he made in the ads which injected Fox into partisan politics. She never even played those portions, instead only showed this positive line from one of the ads: "In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures." In that ad against Missouri Republican Senator Jim Talent, Fox distorted Talent's opposition to cloning into how "Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." In his ad for Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, Fox alleged that Republican candidate Michael Steele "would put limits on the most promising stem cell research," meaning embryonic. But embryonic has not shown promise and there's lots of research money going into it.
That's "distinguishing television" all right -- it distinguishes the anchor as a liberal partisan who bashes Rush Limbaugh and sides in her newscast with the same health-care causes (with still-unproven scientific merit) she has supported with donations and personal appearances.