Open Mic

What Katie Couric Should Do Next--First of All, She Should NOT Do a Daytime Talk Show, and Here's Why

Chuck Ross Posted April 5, 2011 at 2:44 AM

Let me ask you something. Is Katie Couric more in the mold of Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Meredith Vieira or Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Regis Philbin?

Clearly it’s the first trio.

So I believe that Couric would have a tough time making it as a daytime talk show host. There’s a certain lightness, a palatable joie de vive, a wink and a nod between audience and host that marks the best and most successful daytime talk show hosts. Oprah has gotten more serious-minded over the years, but she’s unmistakably got it as well.

It’s part of the Fred Astaire factor. It’s a silky smoothness in what one does that simultaneously gives one respectability and a connectivity to an audience that leads to popularity.

Couric actually has this factor as well, but it’s in the same sense that the women in the first trio I mention above have it.

So it seems clear to me what Couric should do after her contract to anchor CBS News’ flagship evening newscast ends in June.

One excellent choice for her would be a return to the “Today” show. It’s a milieu in which she shines. Reportedly, Vieira’s contract ends in September. “Been there, done that,” you say? I say “Fiddlesticks!” or, better yet, “Mugwump!”

A mugwump is what some of the supporters of Grover Cleveland were called. And Cleveland was the only president to serve a term as President of the United States, then, in a notoriously bad move, go to CBS to anchor its evening news telegraphcast, before becoming President of the United States again, four years later.

OK, I confess I don’t have a clue what Cleveland did in between his two non-consecutive terms as U.S. president, but the point is that "been there done that" is the position of trolls and not those with tigeress blood.

Lauer and Couric, together again. It’s worth watching and millions will. And, economically, it’ll be worth it to Comcast to pay Couric millions to once again wake up way too early.

Another organization to whom it would be well worth it to pay Couric millions is the CNN division of Time Warner.

The place is a mess and she’d be a good complement to Anderson Cooper. For one, she could replace the stultifyingly stupor-inducing Piers Morgan. Couric is one of the best interviewers around; Piers, er, um, less so.

In a forthcoming New York Times magazine piece that’s already been published online, Couric says that if she does a daytime talk show it would be known for “smart conversation.”

Oy yoy yoy. Another indication that Couric should stay out of the daytime talk show arena. Daytime talk shows are about silly talk, fun talk, exploitative talk, feel-good talk and in-your-face-Jerry-Springer-talk-show-type-talk. They are not about “smart conversation.”

Smart conversation is what one finds on ABC’s “The View,” and another possibility for Couric would be to host a show similar to that compelling and entertaining program. CNN could use a good one. So could NBC. And if Barbara Walters wants to take more time off or leave the original version entirely, Couric would be a great fit to replace her.

We close with some great responses Couric gave in her interview in the New York Times magazine:

Andrew Goldman of The New York Times: At your first job at CNN, the head of the network, Reese Schonfeld, famously said you just didn’t possess the gravitas to be in TV news.

Couric: Which I think is Latin for ‘testicles’ by the way. But to give this some perspective: I was 23 years old.

NY Times: For the 15 years you co-hosted “Today,” no one seemed capable of writing about you without using one particular descriptor. Tell me about your current relationship with the word ‘perky.’

Couric It used to bother me because I thought there was a sexist undertone to that word. It meant shallow and cute, but not somebody who had any depth. It did become a pejorative word, but listen, it’s better than ‘bitchy.’ #