Two days ago, journalist John Ziegler was arrested for trying to ask questions at an event where Katie Couric of CBS News received an award for her interview with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin last fall. The Couric/Palin interview is a central subject in Ziegler’s “Media Malpractice” documentary about the slanted coverage of the 2008 presidential race. He wanted to ask people why Couric won an award for a biased interview.
The journalism school at the University of Southern California would have none of that. They refused to let Ziegler practice journalism on their journalism campus. They handcuffed and manhandled him and forced him off the campus.
Ed Morrissey put the story in context yesterday at Hot Air: “Would Walter Cronkite have approved of police locking up reporters for merely covering an event and walking on property that is very obviously open to the public in doing so?” Quin Hillyer at AmSpecBlog said the incident “is quite literally the sort of thing that calls for a public rebuke from the highest levels of both journalism AND government.” He also wondered aloud what Couric thinks.
That’s a good question, and you can put it to her yourself on Twitter. Couric uses the mini-blog service and “tweeted” about her award Wednesday. Everyone who uses Twitter should let Couric know that Ziegler was unfairly prevented from doing the kind of work she does every day. Ziegler had a right to ask questions, and if Couric and the people trying to educate the next generation of journalists can’t appreciate that, none of them should be giving or getting awards.
Everyone needs to voice their outrage, and @katiecouric is a great place to do it. Even if she never reports the news of Ziegler’s mistreatment, searches of @katiecouric on Twitter will let everyone know that she chose to hide and stay silent about a breach of journalism ethics on the campus of one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism schools.
Some folks already have contacted Couric. Here are their tweets:
- Will you be covering John Ziegler’s scuffle outside your awards ceremony? He had a right to be there.
- Who is John Zeigler and why was he arrested?
- Katie, any comment on the John Ziegler handcuffing on the USC campus while you were getting a journalism award? Press freedom?
Others who are part of this tweet campaign include @godandculture, @CO2HOG, @djdunn and @rockinrandall. Join them. Go tweet Couric. And if you’re not already using Twitter, this is a good reason to start.