Katie Couric Doesn’t Get It…

I used to give Katie Couric some credit for her interview style. But these days, she seems to have forgotten whatever journalistic credibility she once had, in favor of inane questions, and a tendency to attack her interview subject, at least when that interview subject is Barack Obama. After watching her interview with Obama today, I came away shaking my head and saying, simply, WTF.

Katie Couric seems to have decided that she needs to become completely hostile to Barack Obama, a development that should be considered absolutely shameful by a professional journalist. I’m not just talking about tough questions; I’m talking about beliigerence, I’m talking about lying, and claiming he’s not answering a question when he  absolutely is answering the question. I’m talking about badgering the man, to the point that you have to wonder what happened to her journalistic chops?

Perhaps it’s because she came from morning television. I wonder that, because the formerly tolerable Charlie Gibson has become insufferable, as well; he has become far to willing to demonstrate his political leanings in his work these days; a practice that used to be absolutely forbidden by a journalist, and should be forbidden for a journalist who values his or her intergrity to any great degree. Is this the result of the baggage that comes with being a jourmalist on a morning show? Do they feel the need to attack an interview subject and be rude and obnoxious, just to "prove" to someone that they’re "real reporters"?

Well, whatever it is, it has to stop. In her interview with Obama yesterday, Katie Couric embarrassed herself. She should go back and watch some Tim Russert tapes. He was one of the toughest interviewers around — I know I would cringe at some of the questions he asked, and there were times I’d scream at the television. But ultimately, he was never rude, and he never badgered an interview subject. But even more importantly, he listened to the answers, and only accused someone of not answering a question when, in fact, the subject didn’t answer the question.

Katie needs to chill, and re-evaluate her purpose as a journalists. Her job is to uncover the facts, not create new facts, or offer up her opinion on the veracity of her subject. The opinions are the viewer’s job. The journalist is supposed to be giving the voter the information he or she needs to make a decision, not to create any sort of impression in the voter’s mind. Deal with facts, and only facts.

The following exchange, regarding the "surge," is unbelievable:

COURIC: Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100
U.S. casualties a month, the country was rife with sectarian violence,
and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even
knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the
surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, "Why?"

OBAMA: Well … because … what I was referring to, and I’ve
consistently referred to, is the need for a strategy that actually
concludes our involvement in Iraq and moves Iraqis to take
responsibility for the country.
COURIC: But didn’t the surge … help do that?
OBAMA: Let me finish, Katie. What happens is that if we continue to put
$10 billion to $12 billion a month into Iraq, if we are willing to send
as many troops as we can muster continually into Iraq? There’s no doubt
that that’s gonna have an impact. But it doesn’t meet our long-term
strategic goal, which is to make the American people safer over the
long term. If that means that we’re detracting from our efforts in
Afghanistan, where conditions are deteriorating, if it means that we
are distracted from going after Osama bin Laden who is still sending
out audio tapes and is operating training camps where we know
terrorists’ actions are being plotted. …
COURIC: All that may be true. But do you not give the surge any credit for reducing violence in Iraq?
OBAMA: No, no … of course I have. There is no doubt that the
extraordinary work of our U.S. forces has contributed to a lessening of
the violence, just as making sure that the Sadr militia stood down or
the fact that the Sunni tribes decided to flip and work with us instead
of with alQaeda – something that we hadn’t anticipated happening.
All those things have contributed to a reduction in violence. So this,
in no way, detracts from the great efforts of our young men and women
in uniform. In fact, that’s one of the most striking things about
visiting Iraq is to see how dedicated they are, what a great job they
do – all those things … are critically important. What I’m saying is
it does not solve the broader strategic question that we have been
dealing with over the last five, six, seven years. And that is how do
we take the limited resources we have, both militarily and financially,
and apply them in such a way that we are making America as safe as
possible? And I believe that my approach is the right one.
COURIC: But talking microcosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000 additional troops … help the situation in Iraq?
OBAMA: Katie, as … you’ve asked me three different times, and I have
said repeatedly that there is no doubt that our troops helped to reduce
violence. There’s no doubt.
COURIC: But yet you’re saying … given what you know now, you still wouldn’t support it … so I’m just trying to understand this.
OBAMA: Because … it’s pretty straightforward. By us putting $10
billion to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that’s money that could
have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone
into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a
declining economic situation in the United States. That money could
have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we
were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the
insurgents in many countries. So those are all factors that would be
taken into consideration in my decision– to deal with a specific
tactic or strategy inside of Iraq.
I really don’t mean to belabor this, Senator, because I’m really, I’m
trying to figure out your position. Do you think the level of security
in Iraq … would exist today without the surge?

OBAMA: Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my
approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a
political reconciliation. So this is all hypotheticals. What I can say
is that there’s no doubt that our U.S. troops have contributed to a
reduction of violence in Iraq. I said that, not just today, not just
yesterday, but I’ve said that previously. What that doesn’t change is
that we’ve got to have a different strategic approach if we’re going to
make America as safe as possible.

This is an example of just how stupid the American press has
become.  The anchor of one of the top three newscasts, and the face of
what used to be the most prestigious news operation in the country
simply doesn’t get it. I mean doesn’t get it at all.

Can I help you understand this, Katie?

Suppose you have two possible scenarios here. The ultimate goal of any war is to get out, right? Okay, so there seems to be no goal in this occupation, so that’s not the case this time, but humor me, please?

Now, you have two scenarios.

In one, the Sunnis rise up and kick out the "insurgents," and work with other political groups to reduce violence and create a semblance of stability to the country.

In the other, all of the above also happens, but we add some extra troops.

Now, Ms. Couric; please explain to us how much of the reduction in violence is due to the surge? You can’t tell me, can you? Of course you can’t, because it’s not possible to quantify it.

What you CAN quantify, however, is the amount of our tax money we’re spending over there — $12 billion per month — and the number of troop casualties and deaths — well over 30,000. As president, you are responsible for those two figures. And you should only put them at risk under extreme circumstances. The United States has two main goals in Iraq, or should, anyway, and those are to limit the amount of money we spend and casualties our troops suffer, and to get the hell out. That last one is the goal of any war, by the way; to get out.

This is what Obama meant, and I don’t understand why Katie Couric was so belligerent in her lack of understanding of it. Face it; if you’re the Commander in Chief, and the troops and taxpayers are your responsibility, why not wait to see if the Sunni Resurgence might work first?

Obama was agreeing that the surge probably prevented some deaths. The paradox is, of course, that it’s not possible to know how many, and that it is actually quite possible that there might have been fewer deaths — especially American deaths — had we not "surged" at all. Isn’t it just possible that having all of those extra American troops over there actually reduced the effectiveness of the Iraqis’ takeover of security? The answer is, ofcourse, that it’s very possible; there’s no way of knowing for sure, one way or another.

And Katie, you might want to consider a few other factors in your analysis, such as it is. One, al Sadr asked his people to stand down. Two, Iran intervened, and asked the shia "insurgents" to cool it for a while. Three, we paid a lot of people a lot of money just to get them to stop shooting at us. Plus, how much of the reduction in violence was due to fact that the previous four years of "ethnic cleansing" may have reduced the numbers of people available to kill. In other words, Obama’s point is, it’s just possible that the violence may have reduced, even without the "surge," but because we jumped into the "surge" at an opportune time, we can pretend to take the credit.

That’s what Obama is talking about, got it? The surge should have been the LAST RESORT, not the first, just as invading Iraq and starting a war should have been the last.

It’s a shame; I used to like Katie. But between that complete clusterf*** with the McCain interview, and now this badgering of Obama, despite the fact that what he’s saying is clear as a bell, if only you could take a deep breath and think about it, I’m losing respect for her, and fast.



Katie Couric Doesn’t Get It… — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this article. I needed someone who shared in my anger at the way she baggered him. He clearly answered the question but she wanted him to verbalize some Republican talking points while at the same time editing McCains horrible interviews so that he looks like he’s really answering a question he really didn’t answer.
    Great job, here. Thank YOU.

  2. Katie Couric to Mrs. Lincoln: “You raised people’s eyebrows with your statements about the theater. Are you saying they weren’t good seats?”