Editorial by John Ziegler

CRONKITE AWARD FOR COURIC REPRESENTS JOURNALISM'S ROTTING CORPSE

4/8/2009

 On April 15th, the “prestigious’ (and apparently now openly liberal) USC Annenberg School for Communication will be presenting CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Journalism.

 
Now, for there to even be such a thing as an prize for “Excellence in Television Journalism” in an age where a desperate thirst for ratings has caused most TV “news” to become little more than glorified infotainment, is a bit like passing out awards for fiscal responsibility to members of Congress. But for Katie Couric, the poster child of this “infotainmentification” of news, to be the recipient of such an oxymoronic honor is much like if that aforementioned trophy for frugal spending in Congress went to John Murtha or Barney Frank.
 
But what makes this situation so particularly galling is the specific reason why Couric is being honored for her “excellence in journalism.” Couric is being presented with the award for “Special Achievement for National Impact on the 2008 Campaign.”
 
What was it that Couric did that was so “special”? The judges singled her out solely forher "extraordinary, persistent and detailed multi-part interviews with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.”
 
Of course there is no disputing that the perception created by that interview and the ensuing media and entertainment coverage of it clearly had enormous impact on how Barack Obama got elected, but is this the kind of “achievement” that journalism is supposed to be honoring? (If it is, shouldn’t the award really go to Tina Fey?) And is there any doubt whatsoever that had Couric asked the exact same questions and Palin had been perceived as having preformed well (or if one of her softball interviews with Barack Obama had brought down his candidacy) that there would be no awards for her from USC or anyone else of note?
 
So it is obvious that Couric is being rewarded for the political result of her interview (the shooting down of a conservative superstar just in time to save the Obama campaign) and not the “journalism” of it, but that truth is not even the most outrageous aspect of this absurdity. That lies in the reality that not only shouldn’t Couric be getting rewarded for that Palin interview, in a world where journalism still mattered at all she would have been roundly condemned for it.
 
How do I know this? Because I have devoted most of the last eight months of my life to telling the real story behind the media coverage of the 2008 election with my documentary “Media Malpractice…How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” The focal point of my film is the exclusive interview I did with Governor Palin from her home in Wasilla where she reveals more than enough evidence to completely discredit Couric’s USC award.    
 
Even though my Palin interview has gotten a ridiculous amount of media coverage, nearly every TV “journalist” has somehow missed the most important revelation regarding the Couric/Palin showdown. That dealt with how Couric’s agenda driven obsession with trapping the Governor on the abortion issue convinced Palin that she was in enemy territory and that nothing Couric asked was to be trusted or taken on face value.
 
Here are two clips on this specific topic from my interview with Palin.
 
 
Abortion was not the only issue where Couric’s intentions were clearly not “journalistic” in nature. Here, Katie bizarrely asked Palin for an example of when John McCain had ever been in favor of tighter regulation in the financial realm other than his outspoken efforts with regard to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is was kind of like inquiring, “other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?”
 
 
But it wasn’t just the very odd tactic of taking by far the most important answer off the table (rendering the question meaningless except for its “gotcha” quality) that put this episode into the level of “Media Malpractice.” The way that the exchange was played on the air made it seem to many people (including at least one prominent Fox News reporter) that Palin could not answer the question at all and was only able to meekly respond, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
 
Here, Palin says the false notion that she hadn’t cited the obvious “Fannie and Freddy” example wasn’t the only misimpression left by the editing of the CBS interview.
 
 
Selective editing also left the impression (thanks to an in artful Palin attempt to actually answer the question the way Couric asked it) that the Governor mistakenly thought that the Wall Street bailout bill was actually about “healthcare.”
 
Here is what really happened there.
 
 
The most infamous moment of the Couric/Palin interview was the unforgettable, “What do you read?” question (and the very quick and not nearly as innocent as it might appear, “but which ones specifically, I’m curious…” Couric follow up). Here is Palin’s perspective on why her non-answer was so misunderstood.
 
 
Other than the abortion answer which is the key to unlocking the context of the Couric interview, the two Palin clips from my interview that have been vastly underreported (obviously because they couldn’t possibly compete with the “substance” of the “catfight” clips involving Plain taking on Couric, Fey and Caroline Kennedy) deal with the overall magnitude of what transpired here and why anyone who cares about the truth or the nature of our news media should be open to the overwhelming evidence in my film, regardless of their political persuasion.
 
 
USC and Walter Cronkite should be embarrassed by this award to Katie Couric. Of course, it is quite possible they just don’t know the facts of why that is so obviously the case. I hope to take care of that ignorance (the corresponding liberal agenda I can’t do anything about) on the day of the awards ceremony. While I was not able to get a ticket, I plan to be at the event handing out copies of “Media Malpractice” to any of the attendees who want to know the facts.  
 
I am sure I will be received warmly. After all, isn’t getting the facts what journalism is supposed to be all about?
 
 
John Ziegler can be reached at talktozig@aol.com and you can find out more about the film at www.HowObamaGotElected.com

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