Posted at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2007
by Andrew Haeg
Remember when Dan Rather used to sign off the evening news with the single word, "Courage"? OK, it was corny. But I'm sure Rather thought it inspired us, and that it unified us as a people aglow in authority of network news. He may have been partially right.
But it was the utterance of a man in a role on the brink of relevance.
Rather's no longer an anchor, nor is Brokaw, and sadly Peter Jennings is no longer with us. Nor is the authority that they assumed as anchors and cultural arbiters.
So it was Sunday night that this media observer saw the role of network news anchor become even more irrelevant. Katie Couric, doing her turn on 60 Minutes, got the "get" of the week: The first post-finding-out-cancer-had-returned interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards. She asked some good, legitimate questions. But she preceded every one with "Some say," or "Some people would say," instead of just straight-up asking the question, as I imagine her forebears would have. It was unseemly, cold. It lacked, well, Courage.
I can't tell you just why exactly, but to me it was a moment of recognition--long in the making--that the role of news anchor as the voice of our nation is dying if not already dead. Good night and good luck.
I just want to point out that Andrew correctly uses the plural "forebears" instead of "forebearers" Now this is a guy who knows the English language. Well done, old chap.
To the substance of your post, I would agree that Katie's interviewing style leaves a lot to be desired. It's like she feels some need to compensate with the "some say's" now that she's interviewing exclusively big shots. Just ask the questions!
Is anybody watching the evening news who doesn't wear dentures, anyway? I wonder how much longer those shows will last.
Was not a fan of her on her on The Today Show either. There are people who can do serious news as well as fluff and there are those who do the latter best. She falls in the fluff group.
Most distracting during her morning stint was her inability to hide her personal feelings during interviews about politics. If I want news served up with grimaces and subtle hostility or the other end with gushing and sucking up, I'll watch the shows marketed as editorials.
An effort of impartiality would be nice. The best anchors are the ones where you have no idea where they stand on an issue or who they'd vote for.
Most of my news these days comes online from a variety of sources. It's the only way to get a broader picture.
In other places, I see that interview's getting ripped for being too tough -- or tough in a contrived way, at least. So...you're fluff, or you're a thoughtless attack dog. Can't win, can you Katie?