Is Couric out at CBS? It’s About Time

Is Couric out at CBS?

Rick Moran
The biggest disaster in the history of news television.

That’s the only way to describe the Katie Couric fiasco at CBS News. The network that once set the standard for news broadcasting is mired so deep in ratings hell that they are thinking of getting rid of Couric after the November elections:

After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the “CBS Evening News” anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 — possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.

Ms. Couric isn’t even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.

Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Ms. Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult “Evening News” back into first place.

Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Ms. Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after “Evening News” anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service.

Couric followed in the footsteps of Scheiffer, Dan Rather, and Walter Cronkite – three journalists who made their bones and learned their craft in print newsrooms and had an abiding love of journalism as a calling and as a craft.

Couric began her career as a weather presenter on local news and never got a clue as to what a “journalist” was all about. It was painfully obvious from the beginning that she was so out of her league that CBS news became something of a laughingstock.

Can CBS News resurrect itself and once again become a force in the news business? Not unless they take at least part of that $15 million they were giving Couric and pour it into resources. They are already talking about teaming up with CNN for some reporting which is probably the wave of the future.

One thing is sure – the experiment involving Katie Couric will long be remembered as one of the biggest goofs in TV history.


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