Katie Couric Is Engaging

This Howard Kurtz piece on the totally amazing and serious Katie Couric is getting some attention for this unfortunate passage:

. . . Couric has spent recent weeks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is touring what she calls “this great unwashed middle of the country” in an effort to divine the mood of the midterms.

Therein lies a key reason why Couric has sometimes struggled in her current job. She’s always seemed constrained by the rigid, 22-minute format, a far cry from her freewheeling Today performances over a decade and a half. So she has devised ways to slip out of her $15 million-a-year prison—launching a Web show, engaging on Twitter, and getting out in the field.

Well. If you can name the crime that will get me committed to a $15-million-a-year-prison, I will endeavor to commit it posthaste. But perhaps the reason she’s struggled is contained in her quote: the middle of the country suspects she regards them as hobnailed dirt-smeared dullards. It fits with the idea that real America – smart, credentialed, urban, sophisticated – exists in a thin crust on either coast, with the rest of the country a parenthetical insert in the national narrative. Unwashed. Criminey.

No, amend that. “Real America,” according to the coastal cultural viziers, is middle America, and that’s the problem. “Better America” is what you get in New York. But only between certain cross-streets.

(By the way, the line “the great unwashed” came from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the Victorian writer who also gave us the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night.”)