For months now, a whole host of websites have been chattering about Katie Couric’s imminent departure from the Today show and her possible history-making post as lead anchor for the CBS Evening News, and perhaps an appearance or two on Sixty Minutes.
Matt Drudge (www.drudgereport.com) led the charge this past Sunday, with his report that Couric was indeed set to make history, no more speculation, a done deal. The New York Times quickly followed with its own report that Couric was “close to a deal.”
Mediabistro.com carried the The Washington Post’s announcement that Couric’s career change will be a “two-step announcement,” which will have Couric announcing her departure first from NBC, cutting the umbilical cord of Today show watchers who’ve come to trust “America’s First Family,” and the spunky Katie who never seems to grow old. NBC will give her a send-off before CBS News revamps Couric’s image to suit their beleaguered network.
Couric, most agree, will not just anchor the evening news. Such a post might be considered a bit of a step down in this age of news media hyphenates. Why, Couric has already been doing evening news programs, alongside her Today show gig, for years now. But to have the chance to say “I’m Katie Couric, these and other stories tonight on Sixty Minutes” is the stuff TV anchors’ dreams are made of. Somewhere Matt Lauer is banging his head against a wall.
Women don’t much dominate the evening news without a male by their side. We as a country can barely trust women to drive our school buses let alone report the national and world news to us. But what makes Katie different? How is it this one woman became desirable enough to go where no other female has gone before?
Perhaps it has less to do with Couric and more to do with CBS. As Bob Dylan once wrote, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Sure, they’ve done well with Bob Schieffer. Ratings are consistently on the high side and Dan Rather is but a distant, fading memory. But what would Couric do for the network?
In short, she will breathe life back into it. Can she return the legitimacy to the CBS Evening News? Magic 8-Ball says it’s too soon to tell. Couric will no doubt draw viewers, particularly since those evening shows have no real competition anymore. But her reputation hasn’t been made on being a hard-hitting reporter so much as being a likable TV personality, a fact she probably hates more than being called “perky.”
As Couric’s star rises, NBC will be hot on the trail for the next Katie on Today. Talk has been for The View’s Meredith Vieira, famous for being a relatable soccer mom who occasionally doesn’t wear underwear. She also did 60 Minutes in 1989. I’m not making this stuff up. But Vieira’s other job is hosting the game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which is such easy money Vieira would have to be more ambitious than Diane Sawyer to give it up.
Others up for the post include Campbell Brown, the former NBC White House Correspondent. Easy on the eyes, good at covering hard news, but lacking in the kind of bubbly personality a morning news show host requires, Brown could still be a nice compliment to Lauer.
Natalie Morales is another name being bandied about. Morales looks the part and has been seen anchoring on Today on a regular basis. And then there is always Ann Curry, who has been part of America’s First Family forever. In all likelihood, though, it won’t be the female on the Today show who shines from here on out. Perhaps Matt Lauer can finally step out from behind Katie’s radiant glare and shine in his own right.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As we went to press, it was announced Couric will become Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News beginning in September. Couric will also contribute to 60 Minutes and anchor CBS News primetime specials as well.
With the appointment, Couric becomes the first female solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast.