Tuesday, December 13, 2005

KATIE COURIC: TABLOID ARTIST?

It seems now that Katie Couric's decision on whether to leave the winning, first-place-for-ten-years Today Show for the CBS Evening News anchor job (at the last-place-in-news network) may not come until the new year. I read elsewhere there may be something in the NBC contract that locks her into NBC in the short term and prevents her from signing elsewhere at the moment. There's also rumblings that CBS might throw a slot on 60 Minutes into the mix, too, which would make sense.

Still, there has been a flurry of press statements and pronouncements about this. There's a lot of people who think Katie shouldn't go to the CBS Evening News, that she's not up to the job. They think she's too perky and hate her apparent appetite for sensational tabloid junk, like the "runaway bride" story and other stuff she had to cover on the Today Show. So Katie has been getting a lot of bad press from these serious news critics.

To which Neil Cavuto, over at FOX News, says: "get over yourselves." Cavuto thinks it's OK for anchors to laugh and joke and basically not take themselves too seriously, and thinks it's great that Katie is about to cash in and make even more serious dough. I agree with Cavuto all the way and also know from the few times I actually watched his show (back when it was streamed over the Internet) that he doesn't take himself too seriously, either. In fact, the thing I notice about these high-brow critics is that they are very consistent in their attitudes. They hate everyone at Fox News (including Neil Cavuto, by the way), and they hate Geraldo Rivera, Jerry Springer and all the syndicated shows, and they really, really hate Katie Couric. They think she's lumped in with the tabloid crowd and think she's going to turn the CBS Evening News into some sort of trash news show with lots of runaway bride stories. It's a knee-jerk typical response from these folks, that you have to be serious and dignified to do the news and be above doing these sorts of stories.

But they forget, maybe Katie is tired of doing these crap "runaway bride" stories. Maybe she wants to be taken seriously for a change, and that will never happen at the Today Show, which covers a heap of junk news stories all the time. Plus, the hours at the Today Show are just terrible. You realize how bad it is getting up so early in the morning?! I would be quite fed up with it. If I were her I'd take the CBS Evening News job and use it to reinvent myself and my career. She got a boost this week when distinguished interim anchor and real newsman Bob Schieffer said he hopes Katie comes to CBS and basically gave her his endorsement. Of course, Bob is hoping to eventually retire sometime in the near future. If Katie doesn't come over to CBS Bob could be stuck at the anchor desk for the next 20 years, and he'll never get replaced. But I digress.

I think Bob Schieffer's pronouncement on Katie this week is very significant. They are really trying to roll out the welcome mat over there. The one stumbling block Katie has to consider is the real concern that she could end up on the same scrapheap as Connie Chung. Connie was elevated to the anchor desk and got her own magazine show, too, in prime time, but she couldn't fit in with the culture of hard-news uptights over there at the CBS Evening News, and was trashed as a tabloid artist and so on. And Connie ended up being fired, and she went to CNN and got fired from there, and now she's going to host some sure-fire flop weekend talk show with Maury Povich on MSNBC. A terrible, terrible fate. But I think this is different with Katie. CBS News is a complete mess and they need someone who can bring in big ratings, fast, so that the rest of the staff can save their own jobs and not get tossed out on the street. They also need some young star power in a big way, the news staff is really getting old. The only real rising star they really have is Lara Logan, that dashing South African international correspondent babe who dodges bullets in Iraq all the time, but she's not really anchor material- she needs to be in the field. And Katie isn't as bad a tabloid artist as Connie Chung ever was. Besides, CBS News has been eating humble pie ever since Memogate. They can't afford to have an arrogant attitude about these sorts of things.

TODAY SHOW SUCCESSION CRISIS

With the real prospect that the CBS Evening News might grab Katie, the Today Show has a serious issue on its hands on who will replace her. One rumor floating around is that they will bring in Campbell Brown from the weekend Today Show. (You know, that show that runs in the timeslot that NBC used to devote to showing endless cartoons. I don't watch the show, either.) There were also a lot of rumors earlier surrounding former Wall Street trader-turned-anchor Alexis Glick, who hosts on the show from time to time, but those rumors have cooled off. I'm guessing what they might do is put Glick on the weekend show to replace Campbell Brown when she leaves for Today. I guess there are a lot of possibilities out there, the problem is that everyone is under contract. That's why these news jobs are so slow to get filled.

Anyway, that's an issue the show has to face now: who replaces Katie. And she hasn't even left yet.

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