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Kersplattery Will Get You Nowhere

katie_couric.jpgIt seems that CBS had its nose even more out of joint than we originally thought about the criticism of Katie Couric’s puffery from Iraq.   From Jason Lee Miller at WebProNews:

…Regardless, WebProNews becomes involved because someone at CBS allegedly (a CBS spokeswoman was quite adamant about the “allegedly” part) insulted viewers who complained about Couric’s “softball” reporting from Iraq and mocked them for getting their information from blogs.

Oh, and Katie Couric’s publicist threatened to sue us, which also gets us involved in a much bigger way, and makes this story, much, much more newsworthy, but we’ll get to that later….

When asked about the comments in the email, CBS Evening News Communications Manager Jennifer Farley (Couric’s publicist) said, “It’s very easy to make it look like it came from us,” and would not confirm that the email came from CBS News, despite the email address….

…My understanding: CBS denies sending the email, cannot confirm that it came from there.

A few minutes later, Ms. Farley, by telephone, insists that everything that was said yesterday was off the record, that CBS didn’t even have a “no comment” because there was nothing to comment on, and if I printed that I could expect to hear from CBS’s legal department. Very suddenly, then, she has turned my puff piece into a major story about a major network trying to bully a Web-publication with the threat of a SLAPP suit. And I am stunned by how she has transformed something routine into something newsworthy.

I’m also aware (because she told me) that Ms. Farley graduated top of her class from Columbia Journalism School, and was quite willing to let me know how much I had to learn about journalism, but she should be at least vaguely familiar with the First Amendment, and that a source can’t just give information and say it’s “off the record” with any type of viable legal grounds. It’s a professional courtesy, not a legal mandate, and that courtesy sort of flies out the window when lawsuits are threatened.

But enough about me and Ms. Farley. Let’s get back to the email.

MoveOn traced the IP address of the email addressed from Evening@cbsnews.com, the one that would be very easy to make look like came from CBS to 170.20.0.80, which resolves to a mail server at CBS Inc., 524 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.

Adam Green, Civics Communications Director for MoveOn.org, says, “It’s a real problem when big media corporations like CBS refuse to ask tough questions challenging President Bush’s lies about Iraq, yet feel fine threatening little-guy online news sites for daring to hold CBS accountable.”

Over-reaction, much?  Seems awfully thin-skinned for a major network news anchor, her professional Executive Producers and an entire television network news apparatus to freak out over a few questions of substance and accountability, doesn’t it?  Is it me, or did the questions about Katie’s puff pieces hit a big ole nerve?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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