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Katie Couric's Clumsy Caricatures

July 29, 2008

There are many reasons to dislike CBS News with Katie Couric. Now you can add ham-handed racial stereotyping to the list.
Just days after editing out John McCain's calamitous gaffe about the Sunni Awakening following the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, Couric offered a pablum profile of the McCain campaign team. In her behind-the-scenes segment Tuesday (video here), Couric seemed shocked - shocked - to learn that McCain's director of outreach to African-Americans was himself an African-American:

The campaign tries to reach out to various voting blocs like women, Hispanics and African-Americans. The efforts are coordinated by National Coalitions Director Aaron Manaigo.
"You're an African-American man and supporting John McCain obviously. Do your friends give you a hard time at all?" Couric asked him.
"No. Absolutely," Manaigo said. "Most of my friends like John McCain. In any other election year, they would probably be right here working with us."

Couric's dual assumption, of course, is that Manaigo's friends must be black and that they monolithically support Barack Obama for President. Now while Obama consistently polls at or above 90% among African-American voters, Manaigo's circle might include Lynn Swann, J.C. Watts, Kenneth Blackwell, Michael Steele and Shelby Steele. Or, his friends could be as diverse as any other group of Americans. While Manaigo's response seems to suggest that many of his buddies may in fact be black, Couric posed the question in almost euphemistic terms.
Sadly, this isn't the only recent example of Couric's newscast reporting caricatures to the American people. In February, a segment about a study of faith in America parroted the stereotypes of the religious right, with CBS' Wyatt Andrews proclaiming, "the unprecedented survey of religion answers many concerns about a secular, morally void America."
As for Couric, the CBS Evening News on her watch continues its dismal ratings slide, remaining deeply mired in third place. It's not hard to figure out why.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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