Reviews

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

Marco Ursi

Couric asked, "What do you fear most?" Bush said he fears someone will slip into the country and kill Americans. If Couric expected another answer, I'd love to hear it.

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

Airtime: Weekdays, 6:30pm ET
Cast: Katie Couric
Network: CBS
US release date: 2006-09-05
Website
Trailer
Amazon

During the 5 September broadcast of the CBS Evening News, new anchor Katie Couric interviewed President George W. Bush. She asked what he meant when he said Americans would be fighting terrorists in their own streets if he pulled American troops from Iraq. "One of the hardest parts of my job," Bush responded, "is to connect Iraq to the War on Terror." Rather than asking him to explain this "connection," Couric let the president continue. "Emboldened" terrorists might topple moderate governments if America was to "cut and run," he said, and the War on Terror is the "great ideological struggle of the 21st century."

The broadcast then cut to a staged shot of Couric and Bush walking through the White House. With her right arm draped across her chest and her left hand under her chin, Couric asked, "What do you fear most?" Bush said he fears someone will slip into the country and kill Americans. If Couric expected another answer, I'd love to hear it.

CBS billed this interview as an "exclusive," even though Bush merely repeated the same things he's been saying in speeches all week. This is a problem not only with Couric's program, but all TV news, which regularly allows such statements to go unchallenged. All week, Couric and her reporters repeated their sources' words as fact (despite occasionally replacing the word "said" with "claimed") and there were too many segments where the opinions of journalists such as New York Times political columnist Thomas Friedman and CBS senior Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer were presented as gospel.

Couric spoke to Schieffer on Wednesday following a report about the transferring of 14 terrorists from secret CIA prisons to Guantánamo Bay. After exchanging pleasantries ("Hi Bob!"), Couric asked whether Bush had handled the situation well. Schieffer said he had, "No question about it." Later, when asked whether Congress would take up the president's proposed bill to transfer the prisoners, Schieffer said, "I don't think there's any doubt about it." Phrases like that should not be used in any conversation about politics on a news program, no question about it.

Couric is prone to similarly lazy language usages. Most often, she lapses into cliché, as when she admitted she was "racking [her] brain" for a way to close her broadcasts (her racking was unsuccessful, however, since she ended Tuesday's broadcast requesting suggestions from audience members), and promised that a story about a blind black boy -- fulfilling both the diversity and disability quota for the week -- would "knock your socks off" (my socks remained on my feet).

But when Couric, in her interview with Friedman, said, "Everyone is looking toward the fifth anniversary of September 11 and everyone is asking the question: Are we safer now?", she committed a journalistic sin so common that we hardly notice it anymore, substituting the word "Everyone" when she meant, "The Media." Luckily, Friedman saved her with his convoluted and essentially meaningless answer: "In some ways, yes. In some ways, no." Thanks for the insight, Tom.

Also providing "insight" during the first week were mediocre filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Sonia Nazario, professional asshole Rush Limbaugh, and comedy writer Jim Twohie, who were all given two minutes to rant in a segment called "freeSpeech." These two-minute opinions only underlined the appearance that the show is short on facts.

Much of the media discussion leading up to Couric's debut centred on her gender, but the awfulness of the CBS Evening News under her management has nothing to do with her photogenic appearance, and everything to do with the ongoing decline of American television news.

3

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.