Katie Couric accepted the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media on Thursday night at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (population 9,765). Not everyone welcomed her award.
In the student newspaper The Volante, liberal columnist David Whitesock argued she didn’t have enough experience to deserve a lifetime achievement award, and her interviews with pop stars like Norah Jones aren’t serious. Journalists aren’t left-wing enough, he thinks, and Lara Logan deserved an award (for lifetime achievement?) more than Katie:
Journalism is on life support, and the media’s complicit relationship with government evidences distrust from the public. For fear of not getting the scoop, major news networks rarely challenge the government. A year and a half passed before the media realized they were giving President Bush a pass after his invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s hardly ironic that Congress wants to bailout the media; they’ll lose their mouthpiece.
Despite dire circumstances, excellent journalism exists. James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times uncovered the secret NSA wiretapping program. Richard Engel of NBC News has tirelessly followed the corruption-ridden American-supported Iraqi government. Even CBS News’ Lara Logan is more deserving than Couric. Logan was one of the first to report of civilian deaths at the hands of American Blackwater henchmen.
Couric granted an interview to the CBS affiliate KELO in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and suggested (from deep down in third place) that ratings don't matter that much:
I think news is a public service. We have an obligation to inform people. And I think this sort of search and desire sort of for the Almighty Rating sometimes is a disservice to the American public. I think we need to tell the public sometimes what they need to know, and not what they want to know at times.
You know, I’m confident, I have a lot of faith in the American people that they're interesting in the pressing issues of day, and that if we present it in a compelling way, they’ll watch it and hopefully learn something from it.
When asked about her Sarah Palin interview and all the recognition she's received for it, and the way it may have turned around the 2008 election, Couric talked the hype down:
I don’t know what impact it had. I think it was a very revealing interview. And I approached it as I do most interviews, I wanted to ask good questions, and good followups if those questions weren't answered in the first place, and really try to reveal her positions on various issues, and how she would handle the job.
And Katie was objective, she explained:
And I wanted people to hear what she had to say through no kind of filter, but just straightforward questions, and then decide for thesmelves is they felt comfortable supporting her.
No filter? Straight questions? That's not what Brent Baker found last year. Everyone remembers Couric bugging Palin about which newspapers she read, and she pounded her with liberal poses on the social issues, such as: "If a 15-year-old is raped by her father, do you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion?"