In a monumental gaffe, former Today co-host Katie Couric, in covering the Winter Olympics opening ceremony for NBC, betrayed epic ignorance about the Netherlands in attributing its rich tradition in speed skating Olympic performances to skating being "a mode of transportation" there. She then added that skating is important "because of lots of canals that freeze in the winter."
It's not at all surprising that Couric is capable of such a major flubs, displays of ignorance, and fibs. Her tag at NewsBusters contains legions of them. At the 2012 Media Research Center Gala Dishonors Awards, she "won" the "Worst Reporter in the History of Man Award."
The following opening ceremonies video shows that Couric would still win that award if that selection exercise was held today (suggested title — "Everything I know about The Netherlands I learned in grade school from Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates":
Here's the transcript:
KATIE COURIC: Next is The Netherlands. It's probably not a news flash to tell you that Dutch are really, really good at speed skating. All but 5 of the 110 medals they've won have been on the speedskating oval. "Now why are they so good?" you may be asking yourself. Because skating is an important mode of transportation, and a city like Amsterdam which sits at sea level (as you all know) has lots of canals that can freeze in the winter. So as long as those canals have existed the Dutch have skated on them to get from place to place, to race each other and to have some fun.
MIKE TIRICO: And they're good at both.
Gosh, Katie delivered all of that with such a perky air of authority.
USA Today's Tom Schad drily suggested that "Couric might want to visit Amsterdam sometime."
The ridicule on Twitter has been relentless:
"You just can't make this up ... And this folks is why Americans are less bright about the rest of the world as they spread fake news!"
"Yes, a few of us skate to work the 5 days we have ice (on average) The other 360 days we either stay home, or sometimes use bikes or cars or trains to get to work."
"Oh yeah, we do this all the time! First we skate, and then change into our clogs before we start the working day at the local windmill. Didn't you know?"
NBC would be well-advised to have sports reporters who know winter sports — and geography — cover the Winter Games ceremonies.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.