CNN Nixes ‘Reliable Sources’ Segment On Katie Couric Per Jeff Zucker’s Orders
Hell, even NPR butchered Yahoo!’s Katie Couric for misrepresenting the IQ levels of pro-Second Amendment activists in her anti-gun documentary Under The Gun.
Seems like the whole media landscape was weighing in on Couric’s slip this week. The usuals, of course. Washington Free Beacon, which broke the news. HotAir had already heavily critiqued the film as had The American Conservative. Other coverage came from: National Review. RedState. Breitbart News. The Blaze. Mediaite. The Daily Caller. And others. WaPo. HuffPost‘s media writer and brunch aficionado Jason Linkins wrote that the film features a scene that is “startling in its intellectual dishonesty.” He even offered a big tip for Katie for her next documentary: “Don’t delete arguments you solicit.”
Remarkably silent on the topic was CNN’s “Reliable Sources” hosted by Jeff Zucker‘s company lapdog Brian Stelter.
The Couric news was nowhere to be found on Sunday’s program.
And why is that?
Turns out that Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, ordered Stelter to not run any segment on Couric. After all, Zucker and Couric are old friends who worked together on NBC’s “TODAY Show.” Couric was a famed co-host and Zucker was executive producer. Zucker also produced Couric’s daytime talk show that tanked after two seasons.
It’s hard to blame Stelter for this one, but one would hope he at least pushed back.
“It’s easily the biggest media story of the week and Stelter does three Trump segments and a Rush Limbaugh-doesn’t-matter-anymore thing right out of Media Matters on his show today,” a media observer remarked to The Mirror.
Even some at CNN were beside themselves at the call, wondering how the network’s premier media program could omit even a mention of what Couric did.
An employee was told, “Jeff is close with Katie and we’re not about to give gun zealots any sympathy.”
But there are disputes that Zucker and Couric are even close anymore. NYP‘s “PageSix” reported that when Couric was married in 2014, her old NBC pals Matt Lauer and Zucker were not there.
The Mirror sought comment from a CNN publicist and Stelter.
This may be an incredible coincidence. But here are the facts: The Mirror sent Stelter an email request for comment about Zucker’s orders on Sunday night at 9:53 p.m. and a request to a publicist at 10:17 p.m. Stelter’s CNN Money newsletter published at 10:43 p.m. with Couric as the lede story. Couric had issued a statement saying she regretted editing the film with a pause and “took responsibility” for it (which really amounts to garbage since the damage is already done). As reported by Stelter, Katie declared, “I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.” Read her full statement here.
But this “news” wasn’t exactly hot off the presses — at least four days earlier, Couric and her posse had already expressed “regret” about the matter, although not yet formally in a statement. See TheWrap’s writeup here.
In his newsletter, Stelter pointed out that he first covered the story on May 25. He made no mention, however, about why the subject of Couric and the film were not included in his Sunday show.
The publicist helpfully directed me to the information in the newsletters.
All of those media reporters at CNN and the week’s biggest media story gets two lousy online writeups and nothing on CNN television.
UPDATE: CNN officially denies that Zucker ordered the show not to run anything on Couric. VP of Communications Matt Dornic told The Mirror, “The Reliable Sources team independently determines what topics and stories they cover for their weekly program. They were not under direction to exclude or spike a segment on Katie Couric’s documentary. Any assertion to the contrary is merely conspiracy theory or flat-out fiction.” The Mirror stands by the report above. (Full disclosure: I worked with Dornic at FishbowlDC. In fact, he hired me. We plan to argue this one out with a huge fight. Water balloons may or may not be involved.)