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The hype surrounding the impending departure of Katie Couric from NBC's Today reached a new low this morning -- particularly for Denver-area viewers.

Today's 7:30 a.m. segment led with a clip of Couric interviewing two locals who'd just lost a loved one in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings: Craig Scott, whose sister Rachel was slain, and Michael Shoels, stepfather of victim Isaiah Shoels. As noted in the first Message column, which dealt with students returning to a re-opened Columbine months after the slayings, this footage was genuinely emotional when it originally appeared -- a fact that made its re-airing under the banner "KATIE'S MEMORABLE MOMENTS" doubly nauseating. Afterward, Couric talked about the Columbine conversation in sincere terms that might have blunted negative impressions if she hadn't then plugged an upcoming appearance by Scott, who's undoubtedly been booked to bring tragic gravitas to the goodbye hoopla.

The marketing of sensitivity is standard operating procedure for network television news these days. Nevertheless, those of us for whom Columbine was a very real part of our lives, rather than a momentary TV diversion, can never look at it as the equivalent of entertainment programming -- let alone as one of Katie Couric's greatest hits. -- Michael Roberts

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