After more than two decades in which Dan Rather used his anchor desk to push a liberal agenda - culminating in the forged document scandal in 2004 - the CBS Evening News needed its new anchor to be the epitome of fair and balanced journalism.
Instead, the CBS brass hired Katie Couric, who put her liberal fingerprints all over Today during her 15 years at NBC. Making the switch to CBS, Couric could have reinvented herself as a fair and down-the-middle reporter. After one year on the job, however, it's clear Couric's liberal approach has perpetuated CBS's bias problem:
■ Gore Is Great. Couric has used CBS as a platform to champion both Al Gore and his global warming crusade. "He was once called 'Mr. Stiff,' now he's known as 'The Goreacle,' the new Al Gore," Couric enthused at the top of the May 25 Evening News. "My fervent hope is that Hollywood's embrace of Al Gore doesn't give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort - and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change," she declared February 26 on her CBS blog, "Couric & Co."
■ Expand the Welfare State. On the March 12 Evening News, Couric echoed liberals who claim health insurance is a constitutional right: "More than 46 million Americans have no health insurance. So when it comes to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and good health, all men are not created equal." Likewise, she began an August 8 report with the tendentious claim, "It's well known that far too many Americans have no health insurance...."
■ Time to Spend "Trillions." Less than 24 hours after the August 1 Minnesota bridge collapse, Couric knew the solution but doubted the public would like it: "Experts have been warning for years that this country's infrastructure is crumbling. But are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"
■ War Protester. Couric didn't hide her opposition to the war in Iraq. "With each death, with each passing day, so many of us ask, 'Is there a way out of this nightmare,'" she mourned on her December 6 newscast. Interviewing British Prime Minister Tony Blair the next night, Couric scolded: "Do you think he [President Bush], or for that matter you, are capable of acknowledging failures?"
Profiling Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice for 60 Minutes in September, Couric was
equally confrontational. After Rice defended America's foreign
policy ("What's wrong with assistance so that people can have their
full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms we
tartly replied: "To quote my daughter, who made us
the boss of them?"
■ Friend of Democrats. During last fall's campaign, Couric castigated Rush Limbaugh as "certainly heartless" for challenging actor Michael J. Fox's Democratic TV ad on stem cells, and gave Fox eight minutes of her 22-minute Evening News to lobby for his side. Ten days earlier, on the October 16 Evening News, Couric pushed left-wing paranoia about falling gas prices: "Is this an election year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans?"
When Nancy Pelosi took the gavel as Speaker of the House on January 4, Couric showed her feminist streak: "Wouldn't Susan B. Anthony be proud? Or maybe she'd ask, 'What took so long?'" In an August 6 blog entry, Couric praised the Democratic Congress: "This new crop worked much harder than the last. A big accomplishment was in challenging executive power with oversight hearings on Iraq, Medicare, the Department of Justice, and global warming." She concluded: "Promises, promises. Sometimes they are kept - even in Washington."
- Brent Baker and Rich Noyes