Well, if this thread doesn’t get 200 comments, it’s back to Anna Nicole Smith posts for the rest of the weekend.  Katie Couric won USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Walter Cronkite Award for her interview with Sarah Palin.  The school noted the impact the interview had on the election:

Evening News anchor Katie Couric was honored for her “extraordinary, persistent and detailed multi-part interviews with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin” which judges called a “defining moment in the 2008 presidential campaign.”

She was given the award for Special Achievement for National Impact on the 2008 Campaign.

The award was given by Reliable Resources, a group run out of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California. It’s mission statement says “Reliable Resources was created to help generate conversation and ideas on improving broadcast political coverage. Broadcast news, network and local, has declined significantly as a primary source for campaign news. Our project seeks to design and distribute tools which would make political news enlightening, informative and exciting to local and network broadcasters.”

For the conspiracy minded, some may remember that the man helped most by Couric’s gotcha moments worked for an Annenberg outfit at one time himself.  Barack Obama ran the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, his only executive experience and a complete flop at improving education.  Norman Lear also had an obvious political interest in seeing Couric torpedo Palin, as his “Born Again Americans” website proudly proclaims.

Did that have any impact on the decision to give Couric the award?  I doubt it, at least not directly, but it certainly provides some context for the mindset of this particular slice of Academia.

Clearly, though, Couric didn’t win the award for journalism.  Couric is busy defining “anchor” back to its original meaning.  She has pulled CBS news to the bottom of the ratings for broadcast news programs, far back from her two competitors.  All three networks have seen their audiences rapidly decline over the last 15 years, but Couric has made the trend line much worse for CBS since taking over in 2006, as this graph from TV By The Numbers shows:

Of course, quantitative analysis doesn’t address quality, which is the point of this award.  Qualitatively, though, CBS falls into the same position, according to this Pew Research poll.  CBS ranked dead last in both broadcast and cable news shows for informing their audiences.  Viewers apparently realize this and have fled CBS as a news source.  That’s what makes the name of the award so ironic; Cronkite was the most trusted name in broadcast news during his career and CBS the unquestioned king of the jungle.  Now they’re a joke, and while that may not be all Couric’s fault, she’s at least a major part of the problem.

None of this comes as a shock to John Ziegler, whose new documentary Media Malpractice dissects the Couric interview and criticizes its hostility and advocacy.  I’d send a copy to the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, but the advocacy is probably what they liked the most.

Update: I guess the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center never saw Katie’s crack journalistic work with Joe Biden. CBS crabbed at YouTube and got the video taken down, but the flavor remains:

Joe Biden’s denunciation of his own campaign’s ad to Katie Couric got so much attention last night that another odd note in the interview slipped by.

He was speaking about the role of the White House in a financial crisis.

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed,” Biden told Couric. “He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’”

FDR wasn’t President when the stock market crashed, and he didn’t get on TV until a decade later — but Couric never seems to notice either gaffe.  Why?  She wasn’t out to get Joe Biden.

Update II: Ed Driscoll found the video of the Biden interview and has more: