The Importance of Katie Couric's Decision on National Security
NEW YORK, April 1st - With Spring in the air, we found ourselves doing the traditional clean-up chores and came across a lost copy of The New Yorker where we found Daniel Cappello's interview of Ken Auletta on the media. They spoke at length about Katie Couric. As America's sweetheart and national security lynch pin, she is under immense pressure these days dealing with the difficult choice of whether to stay at NBC, or cross over to enemy territory at CBS, two long and lonely blocks away. The reason of course is that the fate of the country depends upon her decision.
We found Auletta's chat with Capello fascinating and were impressed by their knowledge of morning news protocol. Both agreed that how Katie deals with this issue is very important. However, their discussion became much more interesting when Auletta got more specific, "Remember that the audience is almost seventy per cent women. There are lots of other restrictions-don't flirt, don't do too much sports, don't be long-winded..."
"The rules are unwritten..." We checked to see if there were other rules unwritten or not, such as "no spitting" or "no hitting below the belt". Yet, given the profits that go along with Morning TV "News," other than restricting flirting--or too much sports talk--anything goes. Katie has to be thinking about this as she determines her's and the country's future.
But that's nothing compared to the paradoxical "unwritten rules." Mr. Auletta further shared with Cappello: "Every morning, the anchors are dancing with this devil. They are gifted dancers, but they are expected to show some leg, to be likable."
Let's see, Don't flirt, but show more leg. Hmmm...
We thought maybe it's actually secret code, like in WW2. One can only imagine during the locker-room pep-talk Diane and Katie receive each day from their etiquette-ethicist trainer/producer/national security advisors how to tight-rope walk these unwritten rules. For example, would it be uncouth for Diane to make a suggestive smile to her husband Mike Nichols while interviewing him about his latest film, or for Katie to kick it up with the Rockettes, the world’s most famous chorus line, just spitting distance from NBC headquarters. No wonder these anchors make the big bucks. They deserve every million they earn.
Since Matt Laurer, Charles Gibson or Al Roker rarely lift their suit pants attire above the ankle, it's questionable if these three anchors are exempt from the "leg rule". And when they do, their ankles are often covered up by socks.
We looked into the specific medical definitions to understand where the ankle ends and leg begins. It seems that the leg and the ankle are indeed separate, connected by "the shank," as detailed below:
shank (shngk) n.
1. a. The part of the human leg between the knee and ankle.
b. A corresponding part in other vertebrates.
2. a. The whole leg of a human.
b. A leg or leglike part.
In news circles, the expression "this story has legs" could be a literal translation to what hub-bub that follows Auletta's interview to this day. One has to wonder, if whether Auletta's rule-book is actually a subtle way of warning America's morning anchors that "they are being watched?"
Rumor has it that Ralph Lauren may be launching a new suit following in the path of the once-fashionable Bay City Rollers, who very provocatively expose their ankles for all to see.
With much made about "unwritten rules," considering the New York Magazine "Celebrity Psychos" article which covered Tom Cruise' shenagins last year, has Lauer, Gibson or Roker had to deal other rules, only this time, written into their contracts. Has a "shank rule" emerged since then? Or worse, will our morning TV journalists be forced to perform stunt-related gimmicks like Robert Novak of CNN did that took the attention off the story and thus became the story himself.
According to Steven Spielberg, there's more here than meets the eye, "The media and the movie industry don't always agree with each other, but they're both out to entertain. People should not be fooled." But if that were true, why is Katie's decision a matter of life or death?
Charles Figley, a professor at Florida State University, who covers the media said, "The gossip keeps pouring in as we simultaneously honor and revile our celebrities in a more intimate manner than ever before..."
Professor Figley claims that it is we - society - to blame, as we simultaneously honor and revile our celebrities. Since Katie and Diane are TV Journalists, which are technically not celebrities, perhaps they are casualties of being inadvertently swept into the limelight of celebrity-hood, as they interview celebs of one sort or another, painstakingly on a daily basis.
Could it rub off on them and thus fall victim to the same pressures, say, as Paris Hilton, or Reese Witherspoon are burdened with? Sad as it is, that may be true.
Considering this, perhaps Auletta's view is not so contradictory after all. Surely the embarrassment and frustration Matt Lauer felt with all the unnecessary media attention when Esquire Magazine accused Lauer as being one of the "best dressed men in the world." Sources indicated this left Lauer "fumming." Esquire Associate Editor Chris Berend heightened the controversy with the statement, "We call him our best dressed wake-up call," said Berend. "Essentially he is the best dressed cup of coffee in the morning." NBC refused to comment.
Another example of a news reporter's physical appearance taking the attention off the story and on to them happened on CNN last year when James Carville called attention to Robert Novak's spinal cord, "He's got to show the right-wingers that he's got backbone, said Carville, a Democrat.
To further irritate his political rival, Carville then suggested that another news media vehicle might find Novak's physique attractive with the shocking, "Go ahead, the Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching. Show them you're tough." Does Carville know something we don't know? Is the Journal planning a muscle fitness issue similar in scope to Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue? Only time will tell.
Now we come to national security. In essence, our morning anchors are now subject to excessive media attention. We can only hope that their leg-based pressure will not distract them from their "all news all the time" TV journalist responsibilities. If so, the ramifications on the over-emphasis of their appearance and personality could send a different message to college-bound students majoring in chemical, hydraulic and electrical engineering.
What if the allure that Katie, Matt, Al and Diane generate amongst college students may cause them to model themselves after our morning role models. Will this then motivate students to change their commitment from rocket science to the fashion, beauty and cosmetology sciences?
The fear of course is that this newly identified pressure will fall once our morning TV journalists; social figures of stature in the most important sense for 21st century youth. Could they unwittingly influence kids to reverse their direction, to throw away those thick glasses, pocket protectors and uncuffed trousers for scissors, makeup and eye shadow applicators?
By doing so, wouldn't this decrease our ability to increase our much needed hydrogen and nuclear bomb inventory, whose current ratio only projects our ability to obliterate the total global population by a factor of 6,430 times over what's needed?
It gets even worse. It raises the question whether The Today Show may ultimately cause the country to fall into an "obliteration gap", where our "Dynamic Obliteration Archive" (DOA) is exceeded by our global enemies, causing them "to get a leg up on us?"
Now, with everything else she's given us of herself, the decision Katie must make is whether NBC or CBS will give the world a bigger "peace of (her) mind". Katie, our prayers are with you.