Kurtz: Couric Capable Of Making Her Own Decisions

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such issues as criticism of Katie Couric, Tony Snow’s resignation, and the coverage of D.C. scandals “outside the Beltway.” Some excerpts:

    Washington: Mr. Kurtz, did Ms. Couric have any response to the disgraceful attacks on her last week? I am not a huge fan of hers, nor do I watch CBS news, but I am sickened by the comments made about her. I am wondering how she took such cutting remarks that likely hit her on a lot of levels (motherhood, sexism, being widowed, etc).

    Howard Kurtz: I told her that a couple of women had questioned whether she was putting her ambition ahead of the welfare of her daughters, for whom she is the sole surviving parent, and whether this was a desperate attempt at boosting ratings. (Never mind that reporting from a depressing war zone isnot exactly a ratings-grabber these days.) Couric basically brushed it off and said she had made the decision for professional reasons, that it was important for her to report on the war firsthand, and that she had discussed it with her family afterward. This reminds me a bit of the criticism that Elizabeth Edwards got for remaining on the campaign trail after her cancer diagnosis. It seems to me that Katie Couric is capable of weighing the family and journalistic concerns involved, as does any anchor or reporter who risks going to Iraq, and that she gets to make that decision, not the pundits and second-guessers.

    Herndon, Va.: On the front page of today’s business section there is a chart called “Who’s Earning What” in Washington. The highest salary is for a chief executive who makes just under $163,000 a year, and the lowest is of a Home Health Aide who makes $20,900 annually. I’m pointing this out because I feel that Tony Snow’s claim of needing more money when he makes $168,000 a year with loads of perks at the White House is emblematic of just how tone-deaf and out of touch people in the White House are. Further, didn’t he make nearly seven figures a year for a decade at Fox News, and yet he now says he had to borrow money to take the job of press secretary with the administration? At the very least Snow should get a new accountant, don’t ya think?

    Howard Kurtz: I don’t think Tony Snow is arguing that $168,000 is an inadequate salary. After all, he knew he was taking a huge pay cut from his Fox News days when he took the White House job last year. What you’re missing here, although Snow has declined to draw the link, is that he’s battling a very serious cancer diagnosis. He’s got kids he needs to send to college. It’s hard for me to believe that his desire to make more money now is not connected to questions about how long he might be around. So I think we ought to show some compassion if Tony decides that leaving an incredibly demanding job while fighting cancer is the best decision for his family.

    Columbia, Mo.: Just a comment today. Living here in the “flyover country” I tire of hearing the “talking heads” comment about how various D.C. scandals “don’t matter outside the beltway” — as if we in the hinterlands don’t concern ourselves with these issues. I’ve heard this said about the Valerie Plame case and the Justice Department scandals, and am tired of it. We are paying attention. We do care about what our elected and appointed officials are doing. Please pass along the word that we are not so involved in our own lives that we are ignorant of these scandals. Believe it or not, we are following them very closely. Nothing is only “inside the beltway” anymore…

    Howard Kurtz: Well, some people are paying attention. Clearly, the average person didn’t follow all the complicated twists and turns of the Valerie Plame case, which received such heavy coverage here inside–in the nation’s capital. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. People are busy, they have lives, and they take what they think they need to know from these ongoing political melodramas. Certainly the information is readily available for anyone who wants to digest all the details.