Let’s see if I have this correct: According to Katie Couric, the future anchor of the CBS Evening News, a town with Catholic themed values is bad, but Al Jazeera is a "voice of reform?" The April 7 edition of NBC's Today featured Couric’s skewed take on a new English version of the network:
Couric: "Analysts claim that unlike most media in the Arab world, Al-Jazeera is a voice of reform, offering uncensored political dissent and debate."
Now, don’t forget, this is the network best known for carrying long videos of bin Laden and grisly images of murdered American soldiers. In the piece that aired at 8:36AM EST Couric did allow that the network "has always been surrounded by controversy" and mentioned the inordinately large number of appearances by Osama bin Laden, but the segment’s overall tone was very mild. She interviewed former Nightline correspondent Dave Marash and Riz Kahn, both of whom have signed on as reporters for Al Jazeera. Couric told Marash that the cable channel "certainly has not gotten a very good rap in much of this country." At an earlier point in the interview, she also wondered how he would "try to change the image that some people have of this network."
At one point, Marash stated that the network will provide all perspectives of a story. Ms. Couric, perhaps channeling the late Peter Jennings’ affinity for international journalism, responded with this follow-up:
Couric: "How do you think that will lead to greater understanding? I mean, obviously, to at least be aware of these different perspectives is one thing, but what about having it result -- I mean, it's not necessarily your job, but just as human beings we all hope for greater world understanding. Do you think that will result from this?"
This may be the kind of insightful, clear thinking questions we can anticipate during her future 60 Minutes appearances. To be fair, Ms. Couric did bring up Al Jazeera’s habit of referring to suicide bombers as martyrs and U.S. criticisms of the network, but clearly her heart wasn’t in it. Mr. Kahn bristled at a slight criticism of the channel. He stated that the network would bring truth to the world. Couric then responded by backing down:
Couric: "...It is one of the first networks that isn't state owned, that does encourage dissent and alternative points of view, but it certainly has not gotten a very good rap in much of this country."
Clearly, according to Couric’s closing words, the future is bright for this new version of Al Jazeera:
Couric: "Well, Dave Marash and Riz Kahn, it should be an exciting and really fascinating adventure for both of you."