Opinion

A New Low Point for the Media: Couric Wins Award for Palin Interview

By John ZieglerDocumentary Filmmaker

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 news as "infotainment," to be the recipient of such an "honor" is like giving John Murtha or Barney Frank a trophy for frugal spending in Congress.

But what makes this situation so particularly galling is the specific reason whyCouric 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 for "her extraordinary, persistent and detailed multi-part interviews with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin."

Of course, there is no disputing the fact that the perception created by Couric's interview and the ensuing media and entertainment coverage of it clearly had an enormous impact on the 2008 presidential election. 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 that if Couric asked Palin the exact same questions and she had been viewed as performing 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?

It is obvious that Couric is being rewarded for the political resultof her interview --the shooting down of a conservative superstar just in time to save the Obama campaign. It's not about the "journalism" at all. But even that truth is not the most outrageous aspect of this absurdity. What's even more absurd is that not only shouldn't Couric be getting rewarded for her Palin interview, if we lived in a world where journalistic standards 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.

Palin on Couric's questioning of her about the abortion issue

Palin on disagreement with Couric over abortion

Abortion was not the only issue where Couric's intentions were clearly not "journalistic" in nature. Here, Katie bizarrely asked Palin to give her 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 thatMrs. Lincoln how was the play?"

Couric's question to Palin

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 between Palin and Couric was played on TV 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 Freddie" example wasn't the only misimpression left by the editing of the CBS interview.

Palin on how the Couric interview was edited

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 "health care."

Here is what really happened there:

Palin on being taken out of context

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:

Palin on the 'what do you read issue

Other than the abortion answer -- which is key to unlocking the context of the Couric interview --the two Palin clips from my interview that have been vastly under-reported (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.

Palin on media's "seek and destroy" mission against her candidacy

Palin on the state of the media

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 (although I can't do anything about the corresponding liberal agenda) 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.comand you can find out more about the film at www.HowObamaGotElected.com