Couric Bashes 'Catholic Town' For 'Infringing on Civil Liberties'

Today co-host Katie Couric savaged Dominos Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and Paul Marinelli, CEO of Barron Collier Company (BCC). The two appeared on the March 3 edition of the show to promote Ave Maria, a new Catholic university in Florida and the planned community that will surround it. Couric, interviewing the two men at 7:34AM EST, appeared openly hostile. She stated, "I think people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance." Mr. Marinelli denied this claim, but that didn’t stop Couric from playing the bigotry card.

Couric: "At the same time, you can understand how people would hear some of these things and be like, wow, this is really infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech and right to privacy and all sorts of basic tenets this country was founded on? Right?"

The Today host began her questioning with the mention that Monaghan will spend 400 million dollars of his own money on the project. Clearly unable to see a reason, she wondered, "Why? Why are you doing this?" Mr. Monaghan responded by mentioning the blessings that God had bestowed on his life and a wish to give back. Couric, however, was more interested in challenging the two businessmen on supposed discrimination. At one point, she wondered if Catholicism itself would lead to bigotry:

Couric: "But do you think the tenets of the community might result in de facto segregation as a result of some of the beliefs that are being espoused by the majority of the residents there?"

Another hallmark of the segment was a constant repetition of the same questions. This discussion of birth control is a good example:

Couric: "Does it follow the tenets, pretty much, Mr. Marinelli, of the Catholic Church? In other words, pharmacies in this community can't sell contraception, correct?"

Marinelli: "That is not correct."

Couric: "That is not correct?"

Marinelli: "That is not correct. In deference to the beliefs of Ave Maria as it relates to contraceptives, what we are doing is requesting that contraceptives not be sold in the town. We are not restricting the sale of contraceptives."

Amazingly, Ms. Couric rephrased the question twice more, clearly disappointed to have a talking point shot down. Throughout the conversation, Couric seemed unable to distinguish between the Catholic university and the planned town that would seek to promote family values by not having strip clubs and porn shops. They would not, however, dictate a specific religion. (NBC helpfully muddied the issue by carrying a graphic that read: "Mission from God? Catholic Town, USA.") Refusing to let go of "Catholic Town," Couric asked, "Does that mean you would welcome Jewish residents?"Marinelli answered in the affirmative. "What about gay couples? Would you welcome gay couples in your community?" At this point in the barrage, the businessman politely reiterated that the community would follow the Constitution and had no plans to discriminate. It should be noted that Marinelli and Monaghan also appeared on the same day’s editions of Good Morning America and The Early Show. According to MRC analysts Mike Rule and Brian Boyd, both shows featured tough questions, but nowhere near the hostility or vitriol on display over at Today. Finally, just to let these nefarious individuals know that they would be under the watchful eye of all good liberals, Couric closed her interview by saying, "Well, we’ll probably be following this story because I know the ACLU is too."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's site.