CBS New anchor Katie Couric ordered staff to drop all references to “Governor” or “Gov.” from her interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. When a staff member pointed out that in other venues, Couric and CBS News had referred to Governor Palin’s opponent, Joe Biden, using his title of “Senator” or the abbreviation, Couric, according to a CBS News editorial aide, sought approval from CBS News management to drop the “Governor” reference during her broadcast interview with Palin that began on Wednesday night.
“It’s not true,” said another CBS News source. “We treat everyone the same.”
But, in fact, that’s not the case: as late as September 22, CBS News and Couric — even on the CBS website — used Biden’s honorific. Here is an excerpt from the transcript of a Couric interview with “Sen.” Biden:
Katie Couric: How is it preparing for the debates?
Sen. Joe Biden: Well, it’s kind of hard to prepare because I don’t know what she thinks. There’s been no — I don’t know a lot about her, so I have to assume for purposes of the debate that she agrees with John on everything.
Now compare that the transcript of the “Palin” interview:
Couric: Why do you say that? Why are they waiting for John McCain and not Barack Obama?
Palin: He’s got the track record of the leadership qualities and the pragmatism that’s needed at a crisis time like this.
In fact, at no point during the broadcast interview does Couric refer to the GOP vice presidential nominee as “Governor.”
Couric is not the only member of the broadcast news corps who has sought to diminish Palin’s professional position, though she may be the most high profile. Producers and editorial staff at both NBC and ABC report that fellow staffers have openly ridiculed Palin, her professional and personal background and her family during production meetings, in the editing bays during video editing for nightly news stories, and while covering Palin at political events.
Ultimately the higher ups at CBS News agreed, saying that wherever possible, the reference to “Governor” should be struck from graphics, scripts and published transcripts. In fact, based on perusal of the CBS website, between video and print, there is only one reference to Palin as Governor, and that is buried in a subhead on the splash page of the interview transcript.
Prowler Update (9/26/08; 9:49 a.m.): Check out “Paulson and Obama” at AmSpecBlog.