On Reliable Sources this morning, I had a moment with Erik Sorenson, former executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and a former MSNBC exec. Howard Kurtz asked about new Today show cohost Meredith Viera having opinions:
KURTZ: Erik Sorenson, Meredith Vieira marched in the anti-war demonstration a couple years ago, and she said on “The View” that the war was built on lies. Does that create a credibility problem for her when she’s interviewing guest on “The Today Show” about Iraq?
SORENSON: I think it’s going to be a challenge. She she talked about it herself. She used, you know, a funnier analogy [this followed a clip of Viera saying she’d spent recent years on The View talking orgasms], but she has been out there with her opinions. And that’s not going to be considered appropriate on “The Today Show”. And she will have to modify that and modulate that voice.
KURTZ: Vieira told me she was not ashamed of what she had said, but that the job of a journalist is to put your biases aside, when you’re in a news role, which she will be….
KURTZ: Jeff Jarvis, you were shaking your head a moment ago.
JARVIS: I disagree with Erik about her having opinions. I think that’s exactly the wrong thing to do, to say, “OK, tamp down those opinions and don’t have them any more, Meredith.”
The truth is we all have opinions. The problem in big news is, we kind of lie by omission. Our agendas are all hidden. Dan Rather would have been better off if he said, “You know what? I don’t like George Bush, but now judge me on what I report.”
Meredith Vieira should go ahead and say, “Yes, I was against the war, but now judge the substance and the fairness and the interviews and the work I do.”
It is time for to us get over this idea that we’re objective and don’t have opinions.
SORENSON: Jeff, you’d have a field day if she did that, wouldn’t you? …
JARVIS: No, I would have a field day of complimenting her on finally having an honest voice on TV and not acting like we’re plastic people with no opinions. You know I would have a field day praising her for finally having the courage to break the old, dull ways of TV news.
More on the transcript.