I don’t get up early enough to watch The Today Show anymore. When I was in junior high and even in my early years of high school, waking up at 6 a.m. meant that after my shower and breakfast I could either watch Power Rangers, Barney, or one of the morning news show.
I picked Today because I had a little crush on Ann Curry. There’s nothing hotter than a woman who knows how to read her news.
A few days after the 9/11 tragedy I walked into the living room with my Fruity Pebbles and glass of O.J. and turned on the tube, expecting the usual bombardment of images of towers collapsing and people crying over loved ones. This was probably the most depressing week of news I’d ever seen.
I sat down, crossed my legs, and watched as Katie Couric interviewed a young boy, tears welling in his eyes. His mother had recently died in the collapse of the Twin Towers and, for some reason, either Couric or the Today Show producers found it pertinent to interview this little boy on the matter.
Toward the end of the interview, Couric, in a soothing, motherly voice full of tenderness, asked the boy “You loved your mother, didn’t you?”
Unlodging the unchewed wad of cereal from my throat that I had inhaled during my deep gasp of disbelief, I coughed it onto the floor, along with any respect I once had for morning programs.
What did she think he’d say?
“No, Katie, I hated my mom. I clapped and danced when she died.”
Of course, at the question, the little boy began bawling, remembering the woman who he did, indeed, very deeply love and would never see again because, days before, she had been blown up by terrorists.
Across the nation, I could almost see the immeasurable amount of people who had one more reason to despise the media. I wondered how many others had spit up their breakfast on the floor and ruined their morning by watching this trash.
And this is the person that CBS chose to take over its nightly newscast.
I’m not knocking Couric too hard. I know emotions were high in the weeks following 9/11 and she probably wrote that question quickly and without thinking during a time of great stress.
Morning shows look for sensationalism and I’m sure the little boy crying, an exercise in the art of a pointless interview and putting a human face to the horrendously obvious grief that 9/11 caused, was a ratings booster.
They did lose one viewer, though. I haven’t watched the Today Show since that morning and I won’t watch Couric on CBS. Nighttime newscasting is a very different beast. And although all television news in general is sensationalism served in half-hour blocks, the nightly news programs still retain some semblance of dignity.
It’s telling that Tom Brokaw, one of the most respected names in the TV news business, only saw his role on the Today Show as a bridge to go on to bigger and better things. Too bad someone didn’t burn the bridge before Couric ran across.
I think it’s a huge step for the news industry that a woman is finally the head of a major nightly newscast, but why Katie? Dan Rather wouldn’t have asked that boy if he loved his mother because Dan Rather would know that it’s a stupid question. And even if her superiors were the ones who wanted it asked (which probably isn’t the case) she should have stood her ground and said no.
I just see this as another step in the decline of quality TV journalism and it makes me long for a day when anchors aren’t chosen based on popularity with morning show viewers but on credentials and skill.
And I will never forgive her for keeping me from Ann Curry.