Does the Couric story have legs?

hc couricWell now, it seems that I was not alone in thinking that the Katie Couric announcement was a landmark event or even a sea change for the network nightly news shows. People want to know: Is this the triumph of infotainment? Is this an open admission that someone needs to create the left-wing Fox News?

I freely admit that I am all but alone, so far, in connecting the Couric bias issue to religion and the lightning-rod issues that go with it, such as abortion rights, euthanasia and the redefining of marriage. Most people on the right prefer to say that she is merely biased, period.

Again let me stress: I am not saying that Couric is anti-religion. She is not "secular." She merely clashes with traditional forms of religion.

Truth is, I have met very few secularists in American life (although their numbers are growing, as stressed in that Atlantic Monthly "Tribal Relations" piece that I keep urging GetReligion readers to consume). The issue is Couric's long history of pouncing on culture-war issues while letting her freak flag fly (to paraphrase David Crosby, one of my favorite oldie musicians).

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal (source of the line drawing) summed up the bias story this way: Couric's rise buries the idealistic claim that news anchors can serve as neutral voices in the public square.

In days past, whatever we suspected about their leanings, anchorpersons felt compelled at least to pose as disinterested reporters of "the way it is." Ms. Couric dropped that veil long ago. The list of her utterances and leading questions posted on the Media Research Center's fretful Web site ... may not fully represent the range of her opinions and peeves. Unless she's a total fake on camera, though, there's little doubt about where Katie stands across the great red-blue divide. Democrats and their pet causes get tender respect; Republican and "conservative" policies get introduced in terms of the alleged threat they represent to our great nation.

Arguably, it's better to know this and be done with the illusion of true neutrality. There are so many information outlets available now that alert consumers can choose to avoid newscasters whose judgment they don't trust or shows with an unwanted political slant.

Here is the more interesting question to me: Do liberal or progressive viewers actually want perky Couric as their official voice on moral and social issues? I mean, don't you think it's rather hard to see her sitting in one of the top chairs at PBS or NPR?

This is that gravitas issue that people keep writing about, and there is more to this than her age, gender and decades of loyal mass-media service to pushing pop culture, fashion, parades, sports bras and fad diets.

I mean, Couric is a liberal's liberal. But do the liberal consumers want to embrace her? Is she one of their best and the brightest? Hey, all of you ordained mainline women: Is Katie a winner for you? All of you professors in cutting-edge women's studies departments: Do you care if CBS puts Katie behind a desk that displays her legs? Do you mind if she walks around on a set, while the men are displayed more modestly? Does any of this matter, so long as she keeps the faith on sexual revolution issues?

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