When Katie Couric read a page from her "notebook" back in June, highlighting sexist media coverage of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, we wondered if maybe she wasn't also talking about herself. Couric was, after all, facing record-low ratings, and her bosses said sexism was partly responsible for viewer apathy. Well, Couric put to rest any doubts she identifies with Clinton in an interview with Haaretz newspaper in Israel, where she is traveling on vacation. In it, she argues that sexism is more common than racism in America, and that she has felt its effects — just like Hillary:
Unfortunately I have found out that many viewers are afraid of change. The glory days of TV news are over, and the media landscape has been dramatically changed. News is available now for everyone, everywhere, all the time, and everybody fights for the last pieces of the shrinking pie. The corporate pressure and the ratings terror are intensifying all the time, and the situation is not simple. I find myself in the last bastion of male dominance, and realizing what Hillary Clinton might have realized not long ago: that sexism in the American society is more common than racism, and certainly more acceptable or forgivable. In any case, I think my post and Hillary's race are important steps in the right direction."
It is virtually impossible to argue against the notion that both Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric faced repeated, institutionalized instances of sexism. But it's puzzling that Couric brings this up in the context of race — jumping into the argument over whether women or minorities are more aggrieved in America.
How has Couric's own professional experience taught her anything about the prevalence of racism versus the prevalence of sexism? It's all too easy to leap to the conclusion that she's talking in this case not so much about herself as about the Democratic primary — about Barack Obama, and about how he, as some Clinton supporters like Geraldine Ferraro argued, faced fewer obstacles as a black man than Clinton did as a white woman.
Is that really a debate in which Couric wants to take sides? Because it's hard to see how it would be particularly wise for her, as a network evening news anchor, to do so. Unless she's angling for Keith Olbermann's job..