Skip navigation

Did Couric cross the line in Edwards interview?

Contrary to remarks, journalists still show courage in news coverage

Couric crosses the line?
March 26: Did Katie Couric go too far in an interview with Senator and Mrs. Edwards? MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asks The Center for Media and Public Affairs Mathew Felling and Media Analyst Steve Adubato.
  Most Popular
Most viewed

Steve Adubato
Media analyst

Katie Couric had a tough job interviewing John and Elizabeth Edwards this past Sunday on “60 Minutes.” Elizabeth Edwards is a courageous and classy woman who is facing an extremely rough medical and emotional road ahead now that her cancer is in her bones. 

One would think that Katie Couric — given that when she anchored the TODAY Show she continued to work and deal with her husband Jay’s suffering and ultimate death from colon cancer — would have handled the Edwards’ interview with the right combination of empathy and directness. But that didn’t happen.

As I watched the interview, I was blown away. In fact, I had to watch it twice on tape to make sure of what I saw and heard. I was really turned off by Katie’s approach. Many of her comments and questions were intrusive and inappropriate. They were over the line, particularly conducted a few days after Elizabeth Edwards’ diagnosis. When Katie asked John Edwards if he might be “capitalizing” politically on his wife’s incurable cancer, I was baffled. John and Elizabeth Edwards already tragically lost their 16-year-old son. They are now facing the terrible truth of her incurable cancer. Where exactly does Katie Couric get off asking a question that even remotely assumes that John Edwards has anything in his track record that would indicate that he would take political advantage of his wife’s cancer?

Katie also said, “Some people watching this would say ‘I would put my family first and my job second’ and you are doing the exact opposite. You are putting your work first and your family second.” She referred to “some people” questioning John Edwards’ “insatiable ambition” and his “capitalizing” on this. Huh? Let me get this right. I understand Katie is supposed to ask tough questions. That’s what we do as journalists. But what’s this “some people watching would say?” Who’s saying that? I know Rush Limbaugh questioned or challenged John and Elizabeth Edwards moving forward in this presidential race. But who else is questioning the motives or intent, much less the appropriateness, of John and Elizabeth Edwards decision to stay in this race? 

The idea that Katie started numerous questions with “some people say” or “others say” is a journalistic cop-out. Cite your source, Katie. Are there polls that I haven’t heard about that show a significant percentage of Americans questioning or challenging John and Elizabeth Edwards’ decision? I must have missed that. When interviewers use the “some people” approach, it’s often a way of not having to say that they in fact feel that way. 

Sponsored links

Resource guide