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Meet the Real Katie Couric

CBS’s New Star Adores Liberals, Scolds Conservatives — And Thinks America Should Be More Like France

Introduction

After more than two decades in which Dan Rather used his CBS Evening News anchor desk as a soapbox to punish conservatives and promote liberals — years in which the Evening News tumbled from the undisputed ratings leader to a poor third place among the nightly newscasts — CBS has elevated Katie Couric, the longtime co-host of NBC’s Today, to sit as Rather’s permanent replacement.

In TV ads promoting Couric’s arrival, outgoing interim anchor Bob Schieffer claimed: "She’s tough, she’s fair, she’s a straight-shooter....Just watch." But meeting with TV critics in early July, Couric suggested a desire to supplant journalistic objectivity with activism. "There are cases where we can be more solution-oriented," Couric proposed.

If her track record is a reliable guide, any policy "solutions" promoted by the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric will likely consist of tiresome liberal clichés: greater burdens on private business, more spending, more taxes and a bigger role for government. Media Research Center analysts have documented Couric’s liberal slant since the day she started on Today back in 1991. Over the years, Couric has embraced liberal politicians, admired Europe’s nanny states, and harshly castigated conservatives in general and the religious right in particular.

Hillary Clinton has long been a Couric favorite. Back in 1992, Couric tossed these softballs Hillary’s way: "Do you think the American people are ready for a First Lady who is that involved at a policy making level at the White House?" As for the public’s negative view of Hillary’s overreaching, Couric asked the then-future First Lady: "Do you think those kinds of reactions, Mrs. Clinton, are the result of good old-fashioned sexism?"

Eleven years later, after Hillary had moved from the White House to the U.S. Senate, Couric was still banging the same drum. Referring to Hillary’s critics, Couric in 2003 presented Mrs. Clinton as unfairly victimized: "Were you surprised at the backlash, the really vitriolic, violent backlash against you in many ways? Do you think it was good old-fashioned sexism?"

Katie Couric’s feminism is rarely far from the surface. Hearing that the liberal Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi had won the race to become the Democrats’ House Leader, Couric cheered on air: "You go, girl!" In 2005, she fretted that the women’s movement had not accomplished more: "Working mothers still struggle with inadequate, costly child care, and workplaces that are far from family friendly."

Couric has often argued that the government should play a greater role in raising America’s children. Last year, she told a guest, "This country is pretty far behind in providing really superior child care for working parents, right?" In 1995, she touted France’s government-subsidized child care centers. "The system works because the French make it work. Child care is a national priority and is neither debated nor questioned," she enthused. "Sounds like America could learn a lot from the way the French do things in terms of day care."

Six years later, she smiled on France’s economically ill-advised attempt to force a mandatory 35-hour work week. "So great, that young mother being able to come home at 3:00 every day and spend time with her child. Isn’t that nice? The French, they’ve got it right, don’t they?"

As Couric saw it, Cuba’s communist tyranny has been a success. Profiling Cuba’s "charismatic" dictator Fidel Castro in 1992, Couric naively gushed: "His revolution delivered. Campaigns stamped out illiteracy and even today, Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world."

She absurdly described ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as someone whose regime saved lives, rather than took them by the tens of thousands. "No matter how deplorable Saddam Hussein was considered," she lectured Senator John McCain in 2004, "he was the ultimate referee who kept the Sunnis and the Shiites apart from killing each other."

In her years on Today, Couric echoed liberal attack ads targeting conservatives as "rigid" and "intolerant." At the 1992 GOP convention, she confronted Vice President Dan Quayle: "Abortion rights have been totally ignored in this platform; gay rights not acknowledged....Do you think the Republican Party has grown, or become, too exclusionary, too intolerant, and that this kind of rhetoric is divisive and counterproductive?"

After Republicans swept the congressional races two years later, Couric blamed it on "angry" voters: "What do you think is behind the so-called surliness of the voters," she asked newly-elected GOP Senator Olympia Snowe. "Why do you think they’re so angry?"

Couric was quick to finger the religious right for the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998, touting left-wing activists’ claims of "a climate of anti-gay hate that’s been fostered by the political right." She told NRA President Charlton Heston he should push for "greater restrictions" on guns after a spate of school shootings. She disparaged conservative talk radio, asserting that "as a matter of fact, they tend to be quite divisive and sort of have a bad, a negative impact on the country."

In 1999, Couric decided to begin the Today show by insulting Ronald Reagan: "Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead!" Two days later, the author of the Reagan biography she was supposedly summarizing told Couric she’d gotten it exactly backwards: "Oh, good God, no!" author Edmund Morris upbraided Couric. "He was a very bright man."

But Couric took other opportunities to bash the Gipper. She suggested to William F. Buckley that the Reagan-Bush years had left a "negative deposit" on the country, noting how "people on the other side of the political spectrum....might say that greed and materialism was the norm then, and that social ills were largely ignored, and therefore only worsened as a result of that neglect."

And in 2003, after conservatives succeeded in getting CBS to scrap plans to air a derogatory mini-series on the 40th President, Couric seemed alarmed: "Some are wondering if the former President is totally off-limits to criticism these days." She fretted: "Is Ronald Reagan untouchable?"

While Reagan’s critics were not to be suppressed, those who criticized Bill Clinton often felt Couric’s wrath. At the height of the Lewinsky scandal, Couric disparaged the President’s accusers. "Are there a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites on Capitol Hill?" she asked commentator Pat Buchanan. A few months later, Couric introduced a profile of Linda Tripp: "Many people think of her as the ultimate betrayer." And when former aide George Stephanopoulos wrote about his years with the Clintons, Couric scolded him for revealing too much about their marriage: "Is nothing sacred?"

Couric’s years on Today have seen her liberal skew on full display. The next pages present a detailed accounting of the kind of bias that’s likely to greet viewers of the CBS Evening News starting in September.