Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Well, it's a big 24 hours for the TV news business.

Tonight is the triumphant return (?) (!) of Dan Rather with Dan Rather Reports, on HDNet. Last week he spent Election Night doing Ratherisms on Comedy Central. I'll bet he's glad to be back on the air doing serious stuff instead of comedy routines with Jon Stewart.

Another channel that nobody watches goes on the air tomorrow. Al Jazeera.

Their long-delayed English service is FINALLY going to launch after taking forever and ever to launch. The big problem for Al Jazeera is that too many Americans look at this channel and automatically think bin Laden. They think these guys are a bunch of America-haters, which is why this channel can't get distributed in the USA. No one will be able to watch in the USA--- but there is an Internet stream available so apparently people will be able to watch that.

Finally, read in the National Enquirer that Katie Couric has been fired as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Wait a minute-- she's still there! Anyway, the tabloid rag claims that network brass have been meeting behind closed doors and have decided to banish Couric to the mornings if her evening ratings continue to be no good.

I still contend that it's the SHOW that's no good, not Couric herself. It's the producers whose scalps really ought to be on the line. But the producers and executives don't want to be fired either, so better to shift the blame. Besides, it looks like people have stopped grouching about the lousy show now, and are now griping about the ratings, and Couric is all alone there on that one. That was supposed to be what she was there for, to help CBS win. And she isn't doing it.

It is obvious that Couric is no big draw for CBS as far as I'm concerned. The truth hurts, but the truth is maybe a lot of people watched the Today show not because of Katie, but because it was the Today Show. It was the same problem Bryant Gumbel had, he found out the hard way that people tuned into that broadcast to watch the show, not him. Katie Couric was successful there because it was a great fit for her talents and she didn't repel people; it wasn't because she was such a big draw herself. But CBS thought she was such a great ratings draw, that's why they lured her and gave her 15 million dollars! The only reason she's on the CBS Evening News is to try and grab ratings. She's not there because it's so great a fit for her talents. Or because she's a serious newswoman. In fact, she looks uncomfortable and ill at ease up there, trying to be dead serious reading the news. And when she isn't being dead serious, she looks like a fool (ie. this "signoff" business). This is no great fit for her, this job. She's only there to pump up the ratings and, get this, attract younger viewers! Ha ha ha.

My big question is, if these jokers at CBS News really are going to embarrass themselves and fire Katie, well, who will they replace her with? Scott Pelley? Russ Mitchell? Lesley Stahl? Trish Regan!! Or maybe they'll swap Harry Smith with Katie. Who knows. Anyway, it doesn't matter what they do, CBS News is screwed. Let's face it, they have nobody in house--- nobody any better, anyway. Maybe they have big plans to lure Diane Sawyer. Or the royally-browned-off Elizabeth Vargas, who's still mad about leaving the ABC anchor chair to have a baby. As if those folks will really help any.

Hey, how's this for an idea. Instead of firing Katie, bring on board someone who could complement her on the political and international stories that the evening news junkies love. BOB SCHIEFFER!!!! Anyway, they should just fix the broadcast and get rid of Free Speech, and make it newsier and be done with it already. Then maybe the crummy ratings will go back up.

Or maybe what Katie needs to do is recite Howard Beale's "Im mad as hell" speech on the air. Or something.

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