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Couric Accepts duPont Award for Palin Interviews: ‘I Did the Job That I Was Supposed to Do’

katiecouric1-22.jpgLast night, TVNewser attended the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University awards in Broadcast News, where CBS News and Katie Couric book-ended the evening among the year’s winners.

CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus was on hand to accept an award for the “CBS Reports: Children of the Recession” series with a number of CBS News EPs including Rick Kaplan from the “Evening News” and Rand Morrison of “Sunday Morning.”

Couric recieved an award for what ceremony host Gwen Ifill described as “apt and determined questioning of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin [that] prompted the most revealing remarks and had the greatest impact on the presidential campaign. And on late night comedy.”

In her acceptance speech, Couric admitted watching the interviews, even “for the 78th time,” makes her “kind of uncomfortable.” She described them as “certainly the most talked about interviews that I have ever done” and said, “cab drivers in New York and fellow travelers at the airport still comment on these interviews — some say thank you, some don’t — even though it’s been well over a year since they aired.”

Couric said her “only agenda” was to “find out where Governor Palin stood on a variety of critically important issues and help her communicate those positions to the American people.” She also said, “I feel I did the job that I was supposed to do.

To a room that included a number of journalism students and faculty, Couric said, “I think this series of interviews proves that followup questions are absolutely critical in an era where, all too often, non-answer answers are given and too-readily accepted.”

In her thank-yous, she singled out Brian Goldsmith, the associate producer who helped her research and craft questions for hours. “Who knew that an off-the-cuff one about magazines and newspapers would get so much attention,” she said.

An excerpt from Couric’s remarks after the jump:

When I was told that I would have an opportunity to interview governor Sarah Palin, my goal was a simple one. Since there had been few opportunities to introduce her to the voting public in an unscripted setting, I wanted to find out where Governor Palin stood on a variety of critically important issues and help her communicate those positions to the American people. That was my only agenda.

The much derided MSM — main stream media — clearly still has a role in these increasingly partisan times. Had I been a journalist who unabashedly expresses his or her political point of view, be it on the left or the right, I believe the impact of these interviews would have been seriously diminished.

While Governor Palin has complained about the way in which these interviews were conducted and my intentions, I feel I did the job that I was supposed to do.

I also felt vindicated by Senator McCain who, after the interview I conducted with the two of them that we just watched, said to me, with the cameras rolling, ‘I just want to say thank you very much for the in depth interviews that you’ve done with me and with Governor Palin. I think it’s helped inform the American people. You’re very tough, but I think you’re very fair.’

I once got a Peabody award for the on-air colonoscopy I did on the ‘Today’ show, and to be honest, though it was quite bittersweet for personal reasons, it was a thrill. But to be given this award really, as a validation of pure journalism and as a validation of my ability to be a practitioner of that, is just enormously exciting.

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