- - Monday, May 30, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Katie Couric is, as she says, a renowned television reporter and anchorperson. She has worked for CBS, NBC and ABC, and now she’s something called a “global news anchor” at Yahoo. She has been a host of NBC’s “Today Show,” presided over the CBS Evening News and, no surprise, she made it to the Television Hall of Fame. She has written a book about herself.

A new book about women in television, which she did not write, describes her as “brash, strong and self-absorbed.” She’s is skilled in the art of manipulating the medium to advance a personal ideological agenda, and now she stands accused of “journalistic dishonesty,” a pretentious way of saying “dishonest.” She’s afraid of guns, and doesn’t like them at all. Her documentary portrays people who love guns and aren’t afraid of them as dumb, pathetic and maybe mentally challenged.

She has produced a television documentary titled “Under the Gun,” made with several advocacy groups out to eviscerate the Second Amendment, and narrates the film.

In interviews with several members of a Virginia organization advocating gun ownership, Ms. Couric asks a perfectly good question about background checks of prospective gun buyers: “If there are no background checks for a gun buyer, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” An audio tape of the interview reveals that the question provoked a lively discussion over several minutes, but Ms. Couric’s version of the interview shows the gun advocates sitting slack-jawed and unable to answer questions. Their responses had been cut and replaced with footage that made them look silly, ignorant or nearly comatose.

The manipulation of the news, as followers of the news know, has been growing in recent days. Executives at Facebook say they were “shocked” to learn that employees suppressed the expression of conservative views, perhaps the most shocking disclosure since gambling was discovered in the casino at Rick’s cafe in Casablanca. Then the cable channel CNN announced that no one appearing henceforth on the network will be allowed to mention any of Bill or Hillary Clinton’s sexual or financial scandals, though it will be difficult for the network to cover the presidential campaign if they maintain such a high standard of taste and decorum. We can, however, expect wall to wall 24/7 coverage of Bill Cosby in the run-up to his trial for abusing women, tastefully or not.

Ms. Couric has apologized, sort of, for an “unnecessary mistake.” She would never have taken part in such deception herself, of course. The “mistake,” for which she blames the director of the documentary, was not necessary because, she strongly implies, the gun enthusiasts would have made themselves look silly and stupid without the help of Ms. Couric and her crew. The lies were not needed. That’s not much of an apology.

Perhaps she didn’t intend it to be. Public trust in the media, and particularly in television news, has never been lower, and Ms. Couric, renowned or not, is among the reasons why.


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