Time running out for Couric at CBS? Posted by: Billy Hollis
on Monday, April 23, 2007
When I saw that CBS had picked Katie Couric as anchor, I was mystified. Coming out of the Rathergate debacle, Bob Schieffer was understood to be a placeholder, and Couric was to be the long term replacement. But why? As I said in comments here a while back, CBS needed sober and objective. Instead, they picked perky and liberal.
Now it appears that the viewers are just as mystified, as CBS languishes in third place in the network news, and the rumblings in favor of dumping Couric are beginning to grow:
CBS executives deny it, but there's a growing feeling within the network that Katie Couric is an expensive, unfixable mistake.
"It's a disaster. Everybody knows it's not working. CBS may not cut her loose, but I guarantee you, somebody's thinking about it. We're all hunkered down, waiting for the other shoe to drop."
The CBS suits disagree, of course:
Couric "is the current anchor and the anchor of the future," [CBS News president Sean] McManus says. "Everyone at the network, from my boss [CBS Corp. president and chief executive Leslie Moonves] on down, is 100 percent behind her."
"Katie is the anchor until she decides to ride off into the sunset and do something else," says [Rick] Kaplan, named e.p. March 8. "There is no one, no one, wringing their hands around here."
OK, guys, if you say so. But just how long are you willing to put up with sinking ratings? And disaffected staffers:
She arrived at CBS with her own group of producers, bookers and assistants, which didn't sit well with the staff.
"She sees herself as a star and thinks the whole news department is here to serve her," says a longtime CBS correspondent.
Former anchors Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Schieffer "saw themselves as leaders of the journalistic team," the correspondent says. "We felt we were part of something bigger than we were."
And of course, there was her recent ghostwriting/plagarism scandal. Anything that exposes a network anchor as merely a talking head detracts from the "suspension of disbelief" many viewers need to take them seriously. Of course, they're all talking heads to some extent, but rubbing the fact in the noses of the viewers can't be good for her.