April 10, 2006

The Sun Interviews News Anchor Snow '91

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Good Morning America Weekend Edition anchor Kate Snow ’91 was on campus last Thursday and sat down with The Sun to share her feelings on the some of the news about the news. Snow majored in Communication at Cornell before getting a Masters in International Relations from Georgetown. She has also served as a White House correspondent for CNN.

The Sun: So according to The New York Times, John Green, the Executive Producer of Good Morning America Weekend Edition, just got suspended for a month for expressing opinions on President Bush in some e-mails that he sent to a colleague. What are your feelings on that?

Snow: John Green is an excellent executive producer. He’s been doing this for a long time, he is excellent at it, and we look forward to having him back in about 27 days.

The Sun: More abstractly then, do you feel that reporters should be entitled to have an opinion, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work?

Snow: I think we all have backgrounds. We all grew up somewhere; we all have certain kinds of parents. We all have certain kinds of friends, and we’re all a certain religion. I happen to be a white woman with blonde hair, so that obviously is going to impact my way of viewing the world.

But as a reporter, I don’t think it’s my role to preach to anyone, to share my thoughts or my opinions about a story. I just don’t think that’s my role as a journalist. As a journalist, my role is to objectively cover the news and to put out a story that hopefully makes sense and informs and educates and lets people make their own decisions. Particularly if you’re talking about political persuasion, it doesn’t matter what I think about President Bush’s energy plan or what I think about John Kerry’s proposals on health care. What matters is what they are and whether they work, that sort of thing.

I’m very traditional, I guess, in the way I view journalism.

The Sun: But do you think it should be permitted for you to be punished if you were to express your feelings (that, as you say, are simply a product of your upbringing and who you are as a person) to a colleague?

Snow: That’s a personnel issue, so I can’t really talk about it. Sorry.

The Sun: An AP Poll came out today in conjunction with TV Guide. It said that 49 percent of viewers who had seen Katie Couric as both a nighttime personality and a daytime personality preferred her in the morning.

Snow: I haven’t seen the poll, but I’ll take your word for it.

The Sun: Do you think she’s got the gravitas for the job?

Snow: Katie Couric – I have the utmost respect for Katie Couric. First of all, I think it’s great that a woman is getting the job [of hosting the CBS Evening News] because it’s about time for a woman to anchor the evening news. I don’t know why it’s taken us as long as it has. Katie Couric in particular, I have enormous respect for her. I think she’s a great journalist. She’s shown her versatility over the years, she can do everything. I wish her all the best on that show, and I think all of my colleagues feel that way.

This is a small core of people that do the kind of thing that we do, especially morning television. There aren’t that many morning TV anchors – there are about 15 of us altogether, on a national level. So we feel a certain sense of camaraderie with each other. I mean I’ve met her, she’s not a friend of mine, I’ve just met her a couple of times. People respect her and I’m glad for her.

The Sun: Do you think that the lighter pieces that a morning show might cover – you made reference to a piece you had done on bathing suits earlier today – would undermine her or you as source for the hard news she will have to deliver on the evening news?

Snow: Let me answer it this way: I think that morning television requires a lot more than what you see on TV. What you see on TV is me interviewing – yesterday morning, for example – Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. I filled in at the news desk for Robin Roberts and I had a sound bite from McKinney in the newscast. That sound bite came from an interview I did with her at 6:30 a.m. before the broadcast went on the air. The interview was about 15 or 20 minutes long in order to get that sound bite. To prepare for that interview took me an hour and a half at least, of reading and preparing and knowing where the story stood. Had she commented yet on what happened with the guards? No. Had she addressed whether there was a racial issue to it? No. I had to spend an hour and a half preparing, and all you saw was a sound bite. I think that for any one of us who does morning television, that first half hour particularly from 7 – 7:30 a.m. is full of hard news and newsmaker interviews. Those are hard stories to do. So I wouldn’t sell short anyone who has been doing that job for a while.

The Sun: Do you think that someone like Jon Stewart could be seen in the appropriate light to deliver the nightly news?

Snow: I’m a huge fan of Jon Stewart’s, first of all. But I think a lot of what Jon Stewart does is a lot different than what I do. Jon Stewart is not a journalist and says that all the time, and that’s not what he wants to be. He does a funny show that contains commentary and contains jokes that are clearly not objective. So I think I see him as quite distinct from what traditional journalists do, but I think there’s room in this world for both.

The Sun: One more topic I’d like to hit on: Today it came out that President Bush gave Scooter Libby the go-ahead to leak information in the Valerie Plame/CIA Leak case. When you were working at the White House, did you ever feel like you were being manipulated to convey the administration’s message?

Snow: I don’t think I’d use the word manipulated. I think that this White House is incredibly effective at controlling information. I think all White Houses, to some extent, try to control information. I think it’s apparent that being the leader of the free world, and trying to push an agenda through Congress, and trying to keep your foreign relations strong, and trying to manage everything you have to manage as president of the United States that you’re going to want a unified message coming out of the White House. You’re not going to want seven different people saying different things about what your foreign policy toward Cuba is. So I think that any White House tries to control information; I think that this White House is particularly good at it.

I know that this President does not appreciate leakers.

Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun Editor in Chief