Katie Couric Takes ‘Evening News’ to Iraq

Aug 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Katie Couric will mark her first anniversary as anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News” with a 12-day trip to Iraq and Syria, in advance of the status report by Gen. David Petraeus that will be used by President Bush to determine the future conduct of the war in Iraq.
Ms. Couric will anchor “Evening News” from the region Sept. 4-7. Harry Smith, co-host of “The Early Show” and sometime Couric fill-in, will anchor domestic news segments from New York on those days.
Chief international correspondent Lara Logan and the CBS News bureau in Baghdad will contribute significantly to the broadcasts and the reporting.
Ms. Couric and “Evening News” executive producer Rick Kaplan will depart Wednesday night after she anchors “Evening News” from New York, to begin her reporting in preparation for the broadcasts starting next Tuesday.
Mr. Kaplan spoke to TelevisionWeek, which had heard rumors about the trip, late last week under the condition that nothing about the trip be published prior to the lifting of an embargo. The embargo, he said, was for security reasons and at the request of the military. “Nobody would like to talk about this more than us. But we can’t,” he said at the time.
Mr. Kaplan brushed aside any suggestion that some might see the trip as a way to escape any fallout from the deep-dish biography “Katie: The Real Story” by Edward Klein, which hit bookshelves Tuesday.
“This is such a simple answer,” Mr. Kaplan said. “What’s happening on Sept. 14? The [Petraeus] report. If you’re going to go there, wouldn’t you go there before the report? You don’t have a choice. This is all about the report.”
Nor would Mr. Kaplan, who returned to CBS News in March after a long stay at ABC News and stints as the leader of CNN/U.S. and MSNBC, talk about what interview commitments Ms. Couric might have with Iraqi and Syrian officials.
“Great coverage trips are not based on interviews,” he said. “There may be great interviews, and I can’t imagine taking a trip that didn’t have great interviews, but that’s not how you gauge a trip.
“When somebody goes over and interviews the head of a country or whatever, that’s wonderful. But that’s just not a lasting accomplishment, and that’s not what we think will benefit this program, this network or Katie,” he continued. “If you’re overseas, you want to get extraordinary interviews, but what you will find is going to distinguish the trip is the caliber and content of the stories that we do: where we go, the stories we choose to tell, the situations we describe, the situations we get into.
“It’s the old ‘Nightline’ in me. When we go somewhere, we want to come back and we want you to understand where we’ve been. That’s what makes a great trip. That’s the take-away for the ‘CBS Evening News.’ You will find the content on this program improving and increasing.”
Mr. Kaplan needed no coaxing to sing the praises of Ms. Couric, who debuted Sept. 5, 2006, to an audience of more than 13 million, only to drop steadily back into a distant third place since. According to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday for the week of Aug. 20, “Evening News” averaged 6.1 million viewers, 1.8 million of them in the 25- to 54-year-old demo CBS News expected to be Ms. Couric’s strong suit. Season-to-date, “Evening News” is down 8 percent year-to-year.
“No bulls—,” Mr. Kaplan said. “I have a great anchor. I have a terrific journalist in Katie Couric. I am enjoying the hell out of working with her. She is really talented. She has a great touch and a great understanding and she cares deeply about the stories she covers, and you’re going to see that on any trip we take. You’re going to see that depth and that writing and that reporting and that curiosity and the proper skepticism come through in any thing that lady does. That’s what ultimately makes this program go forward and grow, and that’s why I like our chances in the coming years.”
Ms. Couric made two trips to the region during the Persian Gulf war, but this will be her first trip inside Iraq.
The days before she reappears on “Evening News” on Tuesday will be long ones spent reporting, “You can imagine how much reading is going on now,” Mr. Kaplan said. “You spend a whole lot of time studying and a whole lot of time reporting. It’s not that you get off the plane and become an instant expert. It’s fraud, if that’s the case.”
(Editor: Horowitz)


  1. I agree with Mr.Kaplan concerning Ms.Couric. She is a pro talent and if she wasn’t she won’t be in her current job. Her credentials speaks for themselves. I watch her program often switching between her’s and ABC with Charles Gibson. The move ABC made putting him in the anchorchair was brillant. I didn’t watch that broadcast much after the late great Peter Jennings. I don’t watch or like NBC with Brian Williams so Katie is fine give her a fair chance. Don’t hate cause she is a woman or cause of her salary.Be fair Be objective her broadcast with Rick Kaplan as EP has improve 110percent.As a african american professional male from Philadelphia her broadcast along with ABC is fair, balance, very good.

  2. It won’t do any good. Nobody is going to think they are watching a real NEWS professional; just a $15M fairly pretty face. Where is Lowell Thomas when we need him?

  3. Really, what difference will it mmake? Whether the anchor (in this case Couric) is in Baghdad or
    Philadelphia. Any interview that comes fom her visit could just as well have been handled by the reporter or bureau chief who is there full time. No matter what pr bul**** come from the CBS Production gang or PR staff. It realy is all about ratings which as we all knmows translate into $$. So what’s new?

  4. I Don’t care for her style of reporting but I do think she’ll try to do anything for raitings becouse her’s are so low,& Ipersonaly think she is a nut for doing this if she should at least wait to it counts during Sweeps. I still don’t think it would help her any way &what happened To Bob Wodruft from ABC or worse could happen- good luck,won’t be watching I’ll stick with ABC,CBS is realy dropping the ball on this one

  5. would it be easier to fire her then send her in a warzone haha

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