Couric and the Edwardses

I was surprised by how negative a tone Katie Couric struck in her interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes about the decision to proceed with John’s presidential campaign despite Elizabeth’s cancer.

Edwardses with Couric

After some initial factual questions about Elizabeth’s condition, how they made the decision about the campaign, and what they told their kids, the inquisition began. Here are Couric’s questions challenging the decision to continue campaigning:

And I think some people wondered if you were in denial, if you were being realistic about what you were going to be facing here. …

Your decision to stay in this race has been analyzed, and quite frankly judged by a lot of people. And some say, what you’re doing is courageous, others say it’s callous. Some say, “Isn’t it wonderful they care for something greater than themselves?” And others say, “It’s a case of insatiable ambition.” You say? …

Here you’re staring at possible death…

And you’re thinking, “I don’t want to deprive the country of having my husband lead us.”  …

Some have suggested that you’re capitalizing on this.  …

Some people watching this would say, “I would put my family first always, and my job second.” And you’re doing the exact opposite. You’re putting your work first, and your family second.  …

I guess some people would say that there’s some middle ground. You don’t have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, and do nothing. But, if given a finite – a possibly finite period of time on the planet – being on the campaign trail, away from my children, a lot of time, and sort of pursuing this goal, is not, necessarily, what I’d do.  …

Even those who may be very empathetic to what you all are facing might question your ability to run the country at the same time you’re dealing with a major health crisis in your family. …

Can you understand their concern, though, Senator Edwards, that gosh, at a time when we’re living in a world that is so complicated and so dangerous that the president cannot be distracted by, rightly so, caring about his wife’s situation?  …

You said, this weekend, “I am definitely in the race for the duration.” If you want to give the honest answer, how can you say that, Senator Edwards, with such certainty? If, God forbid, Elizabeth doesn’t respond to whatever treatment is recommended, if her health deteriorates, would you really say that?  …

I’m not saying these aren’t fair questions by any means. What I am saying is that I was struck by how confrontational Couric was throughout the entire interview. Some of the comments posted to the CBS web site to the interview transcript are upset with Couric’s tone, as are the people commenting on this Daily Kos thread. It seems to me like Couric should’ve raised these issues in a less hostile way and also devoted time to more positive questions like Elizabeth’s plans to educate people about cancer, etc.

Some people on the Edwards blog weren’t so happy either. One notes that Couric “kept asking different versions of the same question over and over again: ‘Why continue when your wife could die from cancer.'” Someone else asks, “Did she give up her career when her husband was dying of colon cancer?” More reaction here and here and here.

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