After four years as Yahoo global news anchor, Katie Couric is out – and we can’t say “good riddance” fast enough to the deceptive editor. Or shall we use a bit of hyperbole and say the heavens opened and all good people said — Amen. Either way, the split came about after Verizon bought Yahoo’s operating business to the tune of $4.83 billion. Couric will continue to work on a project basis with Oath, the new Verizon division, so they haven’t “officially” parted ways.
Ms. Couric’s tenure was most noted for segments such as “Now I Get It” and “Cities Rising,” but multiple deceptive editing scandals still overshadow her career. She also worked as an anchor for CBS Evening News and NBC’s Today, and has been accused (and cleared) of editing interviews in her 2016 film Under the Gun to change the audience’s perception. The so-called documentary “examines the events and people who have kept the gun debate fierce and the progress slow, even as gun deaths and mass shootings continue to increase.”
In the film, Couric interviews activists with the Virginia Citizens Defense League. She asked the question, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The video shows the gun advocates sitting in stunned silence – but that’s not what actually happened. Liberty Nation’s Scott Cocenza – a Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) member – explains:
That’s the exact opposite of what the real response was. What these gun owners were not shy about sharing was a full-throated defense of the right to keep and bear arms coupled with a sober, realistic view of violence in society – and a liberal interpretation of felon rights to boot! Of course, the footage was unacceptable for Couric’s movie exactly because the response from these gun owners was compelling and reasonable. Those driven only by their narrative are hostile to anything that doesn’t fit their narrative.
The recent accusations of deceptive editing in Under the Gun brought to light another incident. Couric allegedly altered footage of her 2014 film Fed Up. The film focuses on today’s obesity problems and features Couric interviewing specialists in the field. Dr. David Allison is the director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and claims to be a victim of “shoddy journalism.” “What she did to me is antithetical to not only just human decency and civility but it is antithetical to the spirit of science and democratic dialogue,” Allison told the Washington Free Beacon.
In the interview, Couric asked Dr. Allison whether sugary drinks added to the obesity problem more than other foods. He paused to collect his thoughts because he said Couric had asked him to speak in layman’s terms so the audience would be able to follow along easier. Instead of showing his actual answer, the edited version leaves Allison looking tongue tied and unsure – an act he said was deliberate as a way to shame or embarrass him and the other interviewees.
The film features seven seconds of awkward silence during which the good doctor appears unable to answer Couric’s question. “Ms. Couric had said to me at the beginning of our interview ‘You know, Dr. Allison, if at any point you need to go over an answer, you stumble on your words, just let me know, we’ll stop, and you can go back over it,'” he said.Katie Couric is let go
Apparently, Couric’s departure from Yahoo had nothing to do with her editing abilities. Despite many demands to fire her, a Yahoo spokesperson said the films were not related to their company and that there were no issues with her work for Yahoo. “Over the last four years, Katie has created a vast portfolio of work that has been equal parts inspiring, thought-provoking and fun to watch,” an Oath spokesperson told Recode.
“Fun to watch.” That would depend upon who is doing the watching, wouldn’t you say? The Virginia Citizens Defense League and Dr. Allison sure didn’t think it was all that fun to watch their interviews hacked up for “dramatic” effect. Editing for time and relevance is one thing. Deliberately cutting an interview to make the subject confused or tongue tied is a whole other ball game – one with shady umpires making unjust calls behind the home plate. Still, Couric questions why the public is so distrustful of the media.
In a panel hosted by the Aspen Ideas Festival and featuring editors from The Atlantic, Time, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, Couric – the moderator – asked why they thought this was so. “How do you restore trust in the media writ large if people are so divided about which media outlets are actually fair and accurate?” she asked. “Is objectivity, true objectivity, in some cases, not as desirable as it once was?”
For one thing, don’t edit just to make headlines or cause drama where there isn’t any. Couric’s brand of putting a TV production together is exactly why the public mistrusts them. Are we expected to believe she couldn’t figure that out on her own? She also said that a friend told her people don’t want “just the facts” anymore and are now “looking for affirmation and not information” from their news. Unfortunately, this is becoming the perception of many in the media. It is not their job any longer to inform the public, but to give people direction? And yet, reporters and journalists like Katie Couric don’t understand why viewers look at them with narrowed, wary eyes and hands on their hips.