Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Katie Couric never got fired for making similar ‘mistake’ to NBC producer fired for editing George Zimmerman phone call

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NBC News fired a producer who edited a call from George Zimmerman to police. The network also mentioned that “several people” involved were disciplined. While the infraction was a serious journalism offense, punishment was dealt and the incident was explained as “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call.”

Of course, the intense media scrutiny of the Trayvon Martin case led to people being more interested in the journalism infraction.

Still, this makes what happened to Katie Couric, or rather what didn’t happen to Katie Couric, rather remarkable. Couric made a similar edit in an interview to make presidential candidate John McCain look better. Couric nor anyone else was disciplined much less fired. And this was after Couric’s producer was fired for plagiarism for a first-person story that Couric said was her own, but it wasn’t.

So why wasn’t Couric fired? Disciplined? Fined? Sadly, we don’t know since while CBS News admitted that what Couric did was a violation of its practices, no action was taken.

When Katie Couric worked on the “Today” show and when she pinch-hit on “Good Morning America,” she was on shows that while a part of the news department, they aren’t treated as real news shows. Viewers see “Today” and “Good Morning America” as news. Even though Couric was the managing editor of a Big 3 nightly newscast, her news skills weren’t the reason why she was hired by CBS News.

Sarah Palin was guest-hosting on Katie’s old show “Today” sneaking in her attacks on the lamestream media. Not that Palin wants to be in the same room as Couric ever again, but it would be fun to get Palin’s reaction to Couric helping her running mate at a key point in a presidential contest.

That conversation would be more interesting than anything we got out of Palin and Couric being on the morning shows. But then again, those shows aren’t interested in hard-hitting news.

“Of course, Gupta can’t interview the high-fructose corn syrup people because they need to be protected. Mike Wallace wouldn’t have done it this way.”

We don’t know if Wallace watched last week’s “60 Minutes” but it was his final episode of the program where Wallace made his reputation as a newsman.

Though Wallace got his start in more frivolous forms of TV entertainment, he showed about three generations of TV viewers how to get answers from people who weren’t happy to share them with millions of people.

Gupta’s story on “60 Minutes” was something that would not have passed the muster of Wallace or Don Hewitt. They both would have been horrified at what the NBC producer and Katie Couric did.

American TV Journalism is lesser after Wallace retired, but greater for having had him on the national stage for as long as we have him, RIP. You deserve it.

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