Yo Katie, now zing the Amish!

2006 03 03 NBCT 01Here is a short update on that Today showdown between Katie Couric and Thomas Monaghan, the Domino’s Pizza founder who is now building Ave Maria University down in southwest Florida.

The tech team at the conservative Media Research Center have put up a commentary by L. Brent Bozell III that includes a video link to the crucial section of the actual interview, which included Paul Marinelli, the developer for the town that will be called Ave Maria, Fla. Watch the showdown for yourself and see what you think. Here is a key piece of Bozell’s commentary:

As NBC dutifully plastered the words “Catholic Town USA” on screen, Couric began pestering Monaghan about his hope that pharmacists would not sell contraceptives there. She asked about it four times. After four denials, she started dropping the bombs.

“Some people,” she claimed, think Catholic values might be “deemed wholesome, but in other ways, I think people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance.” Marinelli refused to take the bait, and instead calmly explained that this town was open to all people of all faiths with a “traditional family value perspective.” Couric was unconvinced and shot back, “Does that mean you would welcome Jewish residents?”

Here are two other great Couric moments, as she auditions for the Dan Rather Memorial Chair of Broadcasting:

“… (You) can understand how people would hear some of these things and be, like, wow, this is really infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech and right to privacy and all sorts of basic tenets this country was founded on. Right?”

And then her final zinger, delivered with a laugh:

“Well, we’ll probably be following this story, because I know the ACLU is too.”

jacob reitan equality rideBy the way, if GetReligion readers want to see a mainstream reporter working hard to be fair to people on both sides of a loaded, emotional story, check out reporter Michelle Boorstein’s feature story in the Washington Post about the Soulforce Equality Ride campaign and its impact on the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

I won’t have much to say on this particular story right now, since the CCCU is where I work. If I offer commentary on Equality Ride coverage later, I’ll make sure that GetReligion readers (or even my Scripps Howard News Service readers) know about that link. I’ve been covering the Rev. Mel White and his Soulforce projects for ages.

I hope reporters along the Equality Ride route read Boorstein’s story, and I think the Soulforce people would say the same.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Michael

    I’m glad you mentioned the Soulforce/CCCU story in the Post because not only was it balanced, but it also showed two groups trying to create an open dialogue.

    CCCU deserves credit for confronting the Soulforce Equality Ride in a positive way. While there may have been some attempt to “neutralize” it, it appears that the larger organization and some schools are taking the opporunity for a “teachable moment.” While no one really expects that minds will change dramatically, the move is a positive one.

  • Dirk Blaylock

    Katie Couric has stumbled through her entire career completely clueless (example: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030508.asp#4) and I find it amazing that she is taking seriously by anyone other than CBS–whose interest in her is completely consistent with their approach to journalism.

  • Herb

    TV people rarely get anything. As far as I can tell, they aren’t hired on that basis. They are hired because 1) they look good on TV; 2) they can communicate convincingly. That’s it.

  • dk

    Judging by the CT coverage of Soulforce, some schools, like Bethel and Wheaton (two of the more center-left CCCU institutions), are putting out the welcome mat on their backs as they lay down. Their sort of “generosity” is inconceivable in a reverse scenario–e.g., evangelicals busing into state university campuses to camp out and demonstrate against administrations trying to prohibit resident assistants from holding bible studies.

  • http://www.joe-perez.com Joe Perez

    I didn’t see the Couric interview, but the news coverage of “Catholic town” leaves me wondering about this question: Would town officials expel openly gay people? What are Florida’s non-discrimination laws like… presumably they don’t mention sexual orientation. This should be discussed. Monaghan’s response that his community will welcome traditional values people of all faiths really doesn’t answer the sticky questions. Has anyone seen an answer to this?

  • Chris

    I hardly call rearranging a chapel so as to limit the gathering of the entire student body and moving a scheduled prospective student weeekend as Wheaton “putting out the welcome mat on their backs as they lay down”. As an alum, I am proud to have graduated from a college which does not seek to demonize and antagonize a group with whom they have disagreements (I don’t find a lot of wiggle room here http://www.wheaton.edu/welcome/cov/comcov.html)

    I’m hopeful that many teaching moments will come out of this. I only wish I could have taken advantage of opportunities such as this when the “real world” visits the often unreal world of the Christian college.

  • http://theaccidentalanglican.typepad.com Deborah

    “Television’s talking heads discuss interminably what they don’t know, and seek to prove what they must ever doubt.”

    Nobody proves Malcolm Muggeridge’s point better than Katie Couric … over, and over, and over again.

  • Stephen A.

    Normally, I’d be critical of Couric’s lack of tact (or obvious talent) but in this case, the questions really ask themselves, and frankly, the question, “Who *can* or *cannot* live in this town, and will anyone be banned?” seem like obvious questions.

    The articles seem to be framed to imply that an entire town will be created JUST so pharmacies there won’t have to sell birth control.

    If that’s true, then these and many other questions are surely legitimate. Most states have over-55 only communities, and most have GATED communities, but an all-Catholic community would seem to run afoul of a few Constitutional freedoms.

  • http://none Deadeye Dick

    I wonder why the Equality Ride left off some prominent Christian colleges? Have they already “arrived” on the gay issue and thus do not need this episcopla visit.

  • Maureen

    Considering that America was primarily founded by little invitation-only groups going off to do their own little thing (particularly in religion), I find all the hoohah about Ave Maria particularly ironic. Especially since such communities were a big deal in American intellectual history, also, even if the big plans often didn’t manage to get off the ground. (Remember the Transcendentalists’ planned community? How about the community the French intellectuals wanted to found?)

    I also wonder whether the media would ask such pointed questions towards folks establishing, say, a new Oneida.