September 3, 2007
If she were Kevin Couric, she’d be a national hero
Recently Katie Couric was criticized by wingnuts for heading to Iraq to do in-the-field coverage. Won’t somebody think of the children?! they wailed. I’m exaggerating, of course, but not by much (emphasis in the original):
In two separate segments yesterday, Fox News attacked CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric for reporting from the ground in Iraq, calling it “a desperate move” and asking if it was a “ratings ploy or legitimate journalism.”
On Your World With Neil Cavuto, guest host Dagen McDowell featured Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, who characterized Couric’s trip as “a clear act of desperation” by a single mother whose “priorities [are] so determined by her ambition rather than her children’s welfare.” Crouse pointedly accused Couric of being a bad mother for going to cover Iraq:
I would say the same thing if this were a man journalist going out there, a male anchor, because when you look at the choice she’s making, she’s saying my ratings are more important than my children. That’s the bottom line.“
Later in the afternoon, The Big Story With John Gibson hosted New York Post columnist Linda Stasi, who called Couric’s trip “a desperate move” to gain “some sort of credibility.” “You know and I know that she doesn’t have to be there for the report,” said Stasi.
First of all, technically speaking, yes, Katie Couric is a single mother. However, generally that phrase is used as a pejorative for an uppity woman who chooses not to get married or chooses to get divorced. I think they’re trying to do the same thing here — except that in this case in particular that phrase only serves to make the wingnuts look bad, because Katie Couric is a widow. You’d think they’d be pointing to Couric as a model of wifelyhood: look at her, her husband died and she had the decency not to get remarried! She’s wedded to his memory! But evidently their frustration at a woman’s choice to remain without a man trumps their you’re-only-supposed-to-get-married-once rhetoric. Plus she kept her last name when she married her late husband, so she is clearly an irredeemable feminazi.
Second, and this is a fairly minor point, but Couric’s two daughters are 11 and 16. If something happened to Couric, I have no doubt that her daughters would be devastated. Losing a parent is difficult no matter how old you are. But these are not babies we’re talking about, dependent on their parents for even fairly basic bodily functions. They are autonomous beings, able to make their own decisions to a certain extent and be trusted with certain levels of responsibility. They don’t need Mom at home 24/7 to take care of them.
Third, what does this say about single mothers in the military? Oh, wait — are we pretending there aren’t any? Right-o, then.
Finally, in spite of Crouse’s statement that she’d be saying the same thing if this were a male journalist, I think gender has a great deal to do with wingnuts’ objections here. Consider if the situation were reversed in terms of gender: Kevin Couric is an anchor on CBS news. His wife died nine years ago, leaving him with two children to raise. Nevertheless, he pressed on with his career in journalism, bringing him to the point he’s at now. He also did a great deal to raise awareness of the type of cancer that took his wife’s life. (Let’s take a moment to blot the tears from the corners of our eyes.) Now we’re at war in Iraq, and the moonbats are complaining that the American news media isn’t covering the situation with the intensity it deserves, so he’s going to tuck his microphone under one arm and clipboard under the other and head out into the field to get some real stories. I have a hard time believing that the same people who are crying about Katie Couric leaving her children behind in an attempt to boost ratings would not be throwing Kevin Couric a ticker-tape parade.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a particularly big fan of Katie Couric as a journalist. I don’t watch the CBS news. I’m just in favor of calling a spade a spade.