Katie Couric is a bonehead

Katie Couric is a bonehead

Katie Couric is a bonehead

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 18 2006 9:36 PM

Katie Couric is a bonehead

Sigh. Another clueless talking head opens her mouth and jabbers on a topic about which she has no idea.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Katie Couric opines on NASA. After a basically fluffy intro (where she says we've orbited the Earth "dozens of times"-- um, Katie, that takes about two days worth of orbiting, and we've had people in orbit for years), she wonders if the NASA budget is money well spent.

No argument there, as I've said the same thing, though our details may differ. What kills me is this line:

It's been wondrous, but has it really been worth it? NASA's requested budget for 2007 is nearly 17 billion dollars. There are some who argue that money would be better spent on solid ground for medical research, social programs, and in finding solutions to poverty, hunger, and homelessnees... I can't help but wonder what all the money could do for people right here on planet Earth.

I wonder: does she think we ship payload-bays full of twenty dollar bills on the Shuttle and release them into space? That might be an apt metaphor for the Shuttle, but the money is in fact spent right here on Earth. It goes to factories, manufacturers, engineers, and all the support lines to keep NASA running.

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Also, I have heard the this argument that NASA money should be diverted to social programs a million times, and it's wrong every time. First, 17 billion bucks sounds like a lot, but on the scale of the US government it really isn't. NASA is the smallest of the government agencies, and the budget is not very big compared to others. Did you know we are spending 11 million dollars per hour on Iraq? That's nearly 2 billion dollars every week! Now does NASA's budget sound so big?

The money spent on space has direct results here on Earth as well. The irony is that the ability of Katie to appear to millions of people (well, fewer every day according to her ratings -- oh, snap!) is due to the space program. Or does the term "satellite TV" mean something I'm missing? Maybe she could ask whoever the weatherman is on her show if (s)he thinks the space program is a waste of money. Does she think about all the instruments and the designs of the planes she flies on which owe their existence to the first "A" in NASA's name?

Look, I know a lot of people don't know this stuff. I know, too, that NASA could do a better job of talking about this kind of stuff. I also know Ms. Couric is not a journalist, but c'mon, she plays one on TV. It's simplicity itself to actually, y'know, do some research.

I had little respect for her before, but even that modicum has quickly evaporated.

For more, check out the comments posted on the CBS site about her views. They're priceless. Too bad they shut down commenting after 72 hours.