More than a year before the end of “the first decade of the 21st century,” Katie Couric on Monday night eagerly publicized a non-CBS News poll which, she relayed, found that “as we get ready to close the chapter on the first decade of the 21st century, most of us are ready to say 'good riddance.' In a poll released today, Americans 2-to-1 expressed a negative view of the past ten years.” (The 21st century began with 2001, not 2000, so the decade will not conclude until the end of 2010.)
In reciting the numbers from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Couric managed to avoid targeting former President George W. Bush, though in reporting the hardly-surprising finding that “more than half of people surveyed said 9/11 was the biggest event of the decade,” she marveled: “More than Barack Obama's election, the financial crisis or the war in Iraq.” Going beyond the Pew poll, Couric highlighted how Time magazine declared “it was 'The Decade from Hell.'”
Though the decade included Couric's elevation to the CBS Evening News anchor chair, she endorsed the revulsion toward the past ten years, concluding: “We may not know what to call this decade yet, but at least we can call it done.”
From the Monday, December 21 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: As we get ready to close the chapter on the first decade of the 21st century, most of us are ready to say “good riddance.” In a poll released today, Americans 2-to-1 expressed a negative view of the past ten years. That's the worst rating in the last 50 years.
MAN: It was a decade of really ups and downs.
ANOTHER MAN: I didn't like it as much as other decades.
WOMAN: I lost my job twice.
COURIC: It started with record highs in the stock market and high drama in politics. But the hanging chads of a disputed presidential election and a bull market fueled by a tech boom would both soon be history.
MAN: I think the defining moment, for the country, I mean, we had blinders on for years about what's going on.
WOMAN: What happened from it was quite significant.
COURIC: More than half of people surveyed said 9/11 was the biggest event of the decade. More than Barack Obama's election, the financial crisis or the war in Iraq.
NANCY GIBBS, TIME MAGAZINE: I think people were very aware of how fortunate they were when they woke up the next morning and they realized that their family was safe and they had taken that for granted and they didn't anymore.
COURIC: Security would be hard to ignore as images of war abroad and terror alerts at home were constant reminders, instantly accessible when all the news and views became just a click away.
WOMAN: The world's come closer together through the computers, Facebook.
COURIC: 65 percent of those surveyed say the Internet has been a change for the better this decade.
WOMAN: I am able to stay in touch with people.
COURIC: Tech went viral, but television got sick. 63 percent say reality shows have been a change for the worse.
MAN: I never watch them. Waste of time. Waste of time.
COURIC: Actual reality was hard enough for most people as the recession and bank failures hurt everyone from big business to the little guy. Here, as Time magazine declared, it was “The Decade from Hell.” But not all nations shared our pain.
PETER DAVID, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: I mean, if you're Indian or Chinese, there were millions and millions of people who got things in this decade that they could never have really dreamt of before.
COURIC: Despite hardship at home, most Americans are still optimistic about better days ahead. Nearly six in ten believe that the next ten years will be brighter than the past ones.
WOMAN: Things will always get better. We learn from our mistakes.
ANOTHER WOMAN: I think it will be a positive new decade.
COURIC: Was this decade worse than the '30s with its crushing Depression or the '70s with its stagflation and energy crisis? In time, Americans may change their minds. We may not know what to call this decade yet, but at least we can call it done.