Couric Patronizingly Challenges & Lectures Palin; Coddled Biden
By Media Research Center
October 1, 2008
In her day-on-the-campaign-trail stories about the VP candidates, Katie Couric didn't even try to deliver equal treatment. Last week, after her piece on her day with Joe Biden, CyberAlert outlined what she must do to be consistent with Palin this week. She failed. Unlike with Biden on September 22, in the "Sarah Palin: Behind the Scenes" story on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Couric declared a McCain-Palin policy position "misleading," deliberately highlighted a policy disagreement between the two (drilling in ANWR), condescendingly demanded that Palin list the names of newspapers she read in Alaska and then treated Palin's conservative views as alien and thus in need of explanation -- pressing her on whether she agrees global warming is "man-made," hitting her repeatedly on whether it should be illegal for a 15-year-old rape or incest victim to get an abortion or the "morning-after" pill and requiring she offer her position on teaching evolution.
Couric asserted that "it will take about ten years for domestic drilling to have an impact on consumers," before accusing Palin: "So isn't the notion of 'drill, baby, drill' a little misleading to people who think this will automatically lower their gas prices?" On how Palin is an ill-informed dolt: "What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?" Couric wouldn't let go: "Like what ones specifically?" and "Can you name a few?"
Jumping to social issues, as the two sat on the campaign bus, Couric insisted Palin reiterate how she adheres to views Couric framed as extreme:
# "If a 15-year-old is raped by her father, do you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion? Why?...But ideally, you think it should be illegal for a girl who was raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?"
# "You don't believe in the morning-after pill?...I'm sorry, I just want to ask you again. Do you condone or condemn the morning-after pill?"
# "Do you believe evolution should be taught as an accepted scientific principle or one of several theories?"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Growing up, Palin "consumed newspapers with a passion." As for Palin's newspaper reading habits, Kaylene Johnson's biography, 'Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down,' recounts on page 21: "From the time she was in elementary school, she consumed newspapers with a passion. 'She read the paper from the very top left-hand corner to the bottom right corner to the very last page,' said Molly [Sarah's younger sister]. 'She didn't want to miss a word. She didn't just read it -- she knew every word she had read and analyzed it.'" Barnes and Noble's page for the book: search.barnesandnoble.com
Earlier in the piece, Couric had wondered: "Do you consider yourself a feminist?"
Biden faced no such onslaught of demands for his views on contentious issues, though few viewers know where he stands on such issues as partial-birth abortion, allowing minors to have abortions without parental notification, or same-sex marriage.
Instead, Couric had hailed him in a way she did not with Palin: "He's the close-talking, free-wheeling, ice-cream eating Democratic nominee for Vice President. Senator Joe Biden isn't holding back."
Couric's obsession with Palin's social issue views matched what ABC's Charles Gibson pursued with Palin three weeks ago. The September 15 CyberAlert item recounted:
He ran through several social issues -- from abortion to guns -- forcing her to state positions Gibson certainly realized would cement her to ideologically conservative positions seen as extreme by many of his viewers....
# "Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?...John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?...Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?"
# "Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it."
# "Homosexuality, genetic or learned?"
# "Guns: 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?"
Full rundown: www.mrc.org
The September 23 CyberAlert posting, "Couric Has Cushy Chat with Biden, Will She Be as Warm with Palin?" proposed:
If Katie Couric is to be consistent and treat Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin...as gently as she did Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden in her day with him Thursday in Ohio which became a story on the Monday night CBS Evening News, she will (Couric quotes from the Biden story in the parentheses):
Amongst the disparate aspects of the two "Behind the Scenes"/on the campaign trail stories, based on my list and so not counting the most obvious lack of any tough policy questions to Biden:
# Hail her outspokenness: ("You say what's on your mind and I think people appreciate that.") COURIC WITH PALIN: No such praise.
# Ignore obvious factual/historical flubs: (Biden: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television...") FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his "fireside chats" were on the radio. COURIC WITH PALIN: She corrected Palin on the supposed payoff to off-shore drilling and repeatedly followed up when she didn't get the answer she wanted.
# Relay as reality positive campaign spin about her attributes: ("Relating to the fears of the average American is one of Biden's strong suits.") COURIC WITH PALIN: No such equivalent connection made to the concerns of average Americans as Couric, instead, pushed Palin to espouse her presumed less-popular social views.
# Cue up campaign rally attendees to praise her: ("What was it about what he said that really resonated with you in particular?" Answers: "I think he expressed what most working Americans feel at the moment. He seems to relate to our pain." and "I want him in office because I believe he will do things for women.")
COURIC WITH PALIN: In about the only positive portion of the fairly lengthy eight-minute-plus story, Couric touted: "Speaking of energy, Palin has brought plenty of it to the campaign trail, attracting huge, enthusiastic crowds, like this one at Capital University." Viewers then heard from an excited woman in the crowd: "I strongly support McCain, but I love Governor Palin!" Even here however, Biden made out better: He got three glowing soundbites from attendees in the crowd which Couric set up: "What was it about what he said that really resonated with you in particular?"
Couric also cited how "her trademark feistiness is on display as she delivers a punchy soundbite about her rival, Joe Biden" ("I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade"), but Couric turned that into a negative: "You have a 72-year-old running mate, is that kind of a risky thing to say, insinuating that Joe Biden's been around a while?"
# Empathize with the challenge she faces at the upcoming debate: ("Are you worried you're going to have to pull your punches a bit because of her gender and you don't want to seem like you're bullying her? It's a different dynamic when it's a male/female thing, isn't it?") COURIC WITH PALIN: Didn't empathize with Palin's debate challenge.
# Not apply any ideological label: ("We decided to take a closer look at the 65-year-old Senator from Delaware.") COURIC WITH PALIN: Here Couric was balanced as she did not apply an ideological tag to Palin.
Tuesday's CBS Evening News report followed a just as slanted preview on Monday. The September 30 article, "Couric Badgers Palin on Pakistan; Had Cued Up Biden on Economy," recounted:
On Monday night's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric announced her day "on the campaign trail with Governor Palin" won't air until Tuesday, but CBS still made room for an excerpt of her time Monday in Ohio with Sarah Palin and John McCain in which Couric repeatedly pressed the two about an overheard comment Palin made Saturday about Pakistan, badgering them with five follow-ups before moving on to Palin's "reaction" to criticism of her answers during her previous Couric session. But a week-and-half-ago, when Couric's day on the campaign trail story with Joe Biden was delayed by news on the financial front, CBS ran video of Couric cuing up Biden on what he and Obama would do to resolve the crisis followed by one challenging question with no follow-up.
Now to the Tuesday story based on Couric's time on Monday with Palin:
The "Katie Couric Reports, Sarah Palin: Behind the Scenes" segment on the September 30 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: The vice presidential candidates hold their one and only debate this Thursday night in St. Louis. Joe Biden and Sarah Palin spent part of this day preparing -- separately, of course. Now, before that debate prep, I spent some time with Governor Palin out on the campaign trail. And in an exclusive interview, she spoke frankly about a number of controversial issues -- including at least one disagreement she has with Senator McCain.
CBSNews.com transcript and video, which does not match what is above since the posted transcript includes portions not aired, the text above reflects corrections to that transcript and also includes a few exchanges aired but not in the CBS transcript: www.cbsnews.com
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