[[M E D I A]] * All the hoopla about Today Show co-host Katie Couric becoming the first woman to solo-anchor an evening news broadcast (replacing Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News, come this fall) has left me cold. I just can’t imagine the grinning, chatty Couric stepping into the oversize shoes once worn by Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather. Worse, I worry for the future feistiness and independence of TV news, when somebody practiced in the arts of interviewing gum-popping starlets and self-promoting celebrity chefs seeks to become “the most trusted woman in America” (to adapt a description once applied to Cronkite). Certainly, Couric’s recent role as an apologist and defender of George W. Bush doesn’t bode well.
As Media Matters notes, on Thursday, during a Today discussion with Tim Russert, the host of NBC-TV’s Meet the Press, Couric, following up on a story about a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows Bush’s job performance rating having tumbled to just 36 percent--the lowest mark ever recorded for the prez in that poll--asked Russert whether “in a strange way, the White House is breathing a sigh of relief” because Dubya’s rating “is down just one point.” Huh? Did she fail to comprehend the historic significance of that one-point drop? (As NBC political reporter Mark Murray explains elsewhere, it means that “Bush has now spent nine consecutive months at 40 percent or below in the poll, a feat exceeded only by Richard Nixon [13 months] and Harry Truman [26 months]).” Or did she choose simply to enter the ranks of Bush excusers, and put the rosiest glow on yet another sign of Dubya’s decline?
Fortunately, Russert wasn’t buying the happy talk. Responding to Couric’s inanity, he said, “No. They [Bush administration officials] understand, Katie, that they have to start rebounding, and rebounding quickly. When you look inside these numbers, Katie, the mood of the country is so unsettled. Two out of three Americans say we’re simply on the wrong track.”