April 13, 2007

Couric's Obama podcast altered in web version

Katie Couric's April 11 podcast essay about whether the U.S. is ready for Barack Obama because he has prayed in a mosque has been significantly altered on the website version. The changes that were made are noted in bold. The text was edited by Greg Kandra, a seasoned writer and producer at CBS News who is now the editor of Couric & Co.

The controversial Obama essay aired the same day that the news was widely distributed that Katie Couric and her staff had plagiarized her April 4 notebook podcast.

Here is the piece as it now appears on the web. I have put the original text in orange. The orange text does not appear on the web.


Is America ready to elect a President whose connections with Islam were the subject of rumor and innuendo? who grew up praying in a mosque?

Barack Obama has arguably the most diverse religious background of any candidate, ever. He was raised in Indonesia by a Christian mother and Muslim stepfather, and attended a Catholic school, but while growing up, also studied Islam. That background sparked rumors that he had studied in a radical madrasa, or Koranic school – later disproved . Obama is now a practicing Christian. rumors that his campaign denied declaring that Obama is now a practicing Christian. l

Last month, the Los Angeles Times interviewed a person people who grew up with Obama. In the LA Times article he said, "We prayed in the mosque, but not seriously," noting that Obama also prayed with his Catholic schoolmates. In a later Chicago Tribune article, however, the source said he was not certain whether they prayed together. this sentence was not aired

It's too soon to know what America will decide about Barack Obama or his background.

But it's not too soon to wonder if America will see that background as an asset...or a liability.

Also note that the website is now handling the podcasts differently. Before April 4, the complete text of the podcast was posted. After that, the only podcast post that has the complete text is the one from April 11 with the corrections.

Is CBS scared that more people will check the text of Katie Couric's podcast with other materials? Kind of weird. This action seems to reflect the rather weak and defensive action CBS has taken throughout this problem.

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