Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Katie Couric substitutes John McCain answer to be this week’s Media Putz

with 2 comments

Originally published on on July 31, 2008

Katie Couric

Being a nightly news anchor gives one a great opportunity to be a Media PUTZ. Charlie Gibson shared the award with George Stephanopoulos on April 24 for their “classic” debate in Philadelphia.

And Brian Williams got the award on June 12 when he “brushed off accusations that the corporate networks knowingly used Pentagon shills as alleged “neutral” experts on the Iraq War.”

Now, it’s Katie Couric’s turn. Couric almost lost the award to Campbell Brown and Erica Hill of CNN for their trashing of the hearings looking into impeachment.

But as distasteful as what Williams, Gibson, Stephanopoulos, Brown, and Hill did, what Couric did was such a violation of journalism ethics that she should be fired. America’s “sweetheart,” Katie Couric isn’t just the anchor of the CBS Evening News, she is also the managing editor. Couric’s interview with John McCain involved the removal of an answer by McCain that would have made him look foolish, and an answer to a different question was inserted into the interview without disclosure from Couric or CBS.

Substituting a different answer is a direct violation of CBS News protocol, and Journalism 101. The blame magically shifted to an unnamed producer who edited the piece.

But Couric is responsible for what airs on the CBS Evening News, along with executive producer Rick Kaplan. Yet neither of them was admonished, punished, or otherwise disciplined for an unethical act.

This isn’t the first time a huge breach of ethics has occurred under the watch of Katie Couric. A CBS News producer was fired and the network issued an apology after a Couric essay on libraries was plagiarized from The Wall Street Journal. Amazingly, Couric read the essay in the first person as if she had written it. So for $15 million a year, she can’t even write up copy that is supposed to be from her that isn’t even news copy.

But at least in that case, someone was fired. At this point, no one has been disciplined or fired for editing out a McCain gaffe without identifying that the interview had been manipulated for political purposes.

Numerous reports have Couric leaving the CBS Evening News chair sometime around the first of the year. The better solution would have been to have her terminated and her $15 million/year contract voided due to unethical journalistic behavior. After all, the journalism careers of Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke, and Stephen Glass were destroyed due to their mendacity. Why shouldn’t Couric suffer the same fate?

For putting political pressure to protect John McCain ahead of the truth, Katie Couric is the Media Putz of the week.


Written by democracysoup

July 31, 2008 at 6:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] year right around this time, Katie Couric had an interview with John McCain where she and her staff substituted a different answer to a question on Iraq designed to make McCain look less […]

  2. […] If The Washington Post had done something similar, they might have to apologize. Then again, no apology ever came when Katie Couric at CBS flipped out a real John McCain answer to save him embarrassment. […]

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