Space Ramblings

Katie Couric CBS Ratings Deathwatch Continues

Now Katie Couric has given an interview to the New York Times trying to paint the whole thing in upbeat colors. Hopelessly. Couric was paid a lot of money to step into an anchor job she had no real ability for and no place in. In a time when the country is already troubled, the last thing anyone wanted from a national network newscast is Barbie reading about soldiers blown up by IED’s in Iraq.

The article Is It the Woman Thing, or Is It Katie Couric? predictably goes the route of trying to play up Couric’s gender but that’s hardly the issue. Over on NBC Tom Brokaw’s successor, Brian Williams– who isn’t that much better than Couric is losing out to ABC too. It’s not a gender thing. It’s a credibility thing. Williams has more of that than Couric but not nearly enough to come off as a serious journalist. Bring in Billy Bush to do the CBS newscast and you’d have the same problem.

Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, acknowledged. “We are a distant third,” he said. “There is no way to sugarcoat that fact.”

Ms. Couric professed to be unfazed. “Honestly, I think we’re going to see ebbs and flows,” she said in a telephone interview the day after receiving the ratings news. “I don’t think it’s a doom-and-gloom scenario.”

Count on Katie Couric to try and sugarcoat the facts. Those ebbs and flows. Like ebbing and flowing to a distant third with no flow going the other way.

And a recent Gallup poll reinforced the notion that Ms. Couric had become a polarizing figure: 29 percent of respondents said that they did not like her, as opposed to 51 percent who said that they liked her. (Her competitors at ABC and NBC both had negative scores under 20 percent and positives around 60.)

Of course her competitors are basically inoffensive and essentially nondescript. As anchors are supposed to be. They can’t offend because they have no real content. They smile, they make sad faces and they read the news. When an anchor becomes the news– it becomes time for him to go– as Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather found out. Katie Couric came in like a celebrity and was ‘introduced’ to the nation– but she wasn’t hired to do a morning show and treating an anchor as a celebrity is a sure way to annoy people.

In an interview in her office overlooking the set, Ms. Couric sought to convey the message, backed up by CBS management, that she was not going anywhere. Not now, not after the 2008 election, not anytime encompassed by her initial five-year contract.

Nor does she want to go anywhere, she insists. “I have no regrets,” she said.

Yeah but after spending 25 million on her and her new set and the new promotion for the newscast– I bet CBS has some giant sized regrets. Then again CBS wasted money luring Bryant Gumbel to their broadcast with little to show for it. Now they lured in Katie Couric and brought utter disaster. I half expect them to pay Matt Lauer 100 million dollars to host something too. Morning show envy is an ugly thing.

Ms. Couric said, “I don’t think there was ever a vision to blow up the evening news, but to maybe make some changes that would recharacterize it.”

Uh yeah. Recharacterize it as fluffy and pointless.

Ms. Couric’s defenders ask whether a man taking the CBS job would have had his looks, hair, and clothes commented on in the same way as Ms. Couric’s

Anderson Cooper anyone? But I’m not sure he counts as a man. The issue with the newscast’s problems has never been her hair or clothes.

Or if a single male anchor’s social life would be almost daily fodder for the tabloids.

Anderson Cooper.

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