Embarrassing. Last night, Ms. Couric interviewed Hillary Clinton for “60 Minutes.” Given the level of access and deference that show receives, both Couric’s Clinton interview and the preceding Steve Kroft interview with Barack Obama were up to the minute and might have turned out to be enlightening and news-making interviews. Instead, Couric shamed herself with a vapid and childish series of questions to the potential Commander-in-Chief.
Among the tidbits we learned: Clinton drinks tea not coffee, that she’s given up diet sodas because “they give you a jolt but it doesn’t last,” that she washes her hands or uses Purell to stay healthy and that were she to lose her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, she’ll be happy to return to being a simple senator from New York. Is any of this information relevant when she’s facing the mother of all nomination battles?
Early on, Couric couldn’t seem to let go of one really nagging question: Doesn’t Mrs. Clinton get down? In her deepest darkest moments, doesn’t she think about losing? Thankfully, Clinton didn’t lower herself to the bait. She smiled and when Couric finally stopped blathering, replied that she didn’t let herself think that way.
Even when the interview got to substantive issues, Couric didn’t listen to her subject and failed to ask any challenging – or really any – follow-up questions. Clinton attacked John McCain for saying he’d be OK with the U.S. staying in Iraq for 50 or 100 years, saying she wold never let that happen. But we’ve been in Germany for over 60 years and we’re still in Korea and Vietnam, does Clinton want to get us out of those commitments, as quickly as she seems intent on getting out of Iraq? Couric didn’t care to find out. (Steve Kroft didn’t see fit to follow up on Obama’s similar attack on McCain, either.)
At the time, there was a lot of discussion about Couric moving from fluffy “Today” into hard news and becoming the first woman news anchor. Whether she can indeed deliver a serious news broadcast every evening is not at issue here. What is at issue is her ability to sit down with serious people, who are engaged in serious endeavors and talk to them at their level. Her performance last night proves that she really should just stay behind the desk and deliver the lines scrolling on the teleprompter.