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CBS News Denies Plans for Early Couric Exit

Apr 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

CBS News denies there are plans for “Evening News” anchor Katie Couric to exit the newscast before her contract expires.
A Wall Street Journal story posted at WSJ.com shortly before 8 p.m. Eastern Wednesday cited “record-low ratings” and anonymous CBS News executives and people close to Ms. Couric as the grounds for saying Ms. Couric “is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011—possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.”
“Evening News” remains in third place in the ratings 1½ years after she debuted as its $15 million-per-year anchor. The press report today is not the first time such a scenario has been floated.
“We are very proud of the ‘CBS Evening News,’ particularly our political coverage, and we have no plans for any changes regarding Katie or the broadcast,” CBS News said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a separately released statement in which Ms. Couric said: “I am working hard and having fun. My colleagues continue to impress me with their commitment to the newscast, and I am very proud of the show we put on every day.”
CBS News seems on the verge of firming up its first presidential debate for Ms. Couric to moderate, featuring Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for late April.
Ms. Couric made blaring headlines last year when she wondered aloud to New York Magazine whether she’s made a mistake leaving her powerful perch as co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show to become the first female solo anchor of a network flagship newscast.
However, people familiar with her had recently described her as being anxious to get “Evening News” executive producer Rick Kaplan back from his temporary assignment to “The Early Show.”
This is not the first time this week that CBS News has been the subject of rumors.
Two days ago, CBS News denied it had been negotiating to outsource newsgathering to CNN.
(Editor: Baumann)

18 Comments

  1. Maybe CBS will deduce that people want the real substantive news rather than style. Maybe they’ll wake up about delivering propaganda, oops – infotainment, in place of news. I don’t seem to recall there being this credibility problem when Cronkite was the boss, nor that he was particularly endowed with a Hollywood profile, nor that he made anything like 15 million per annum. Someone thought CBS Light would make more money by being less offensive and here they are. Cornered in fluff of their own making and purchase.

  2. Couric is doing a great job in the evening newscast. If you see her broadcast for the past months, it’s better than ABC or NBC. During the Super Tuesday Coverage, she’s the only anchor out of the Big Three to interview all the candidates. Her primary question series is also a great franchise. Her Minneapolis and California Wildfires is the best of the 3 networks. Her Iraq reporting also showcases her harn-news roots. I don’t see anything wrong about Couric, aside from the fact that she’s been so huge for the evening news and that people might see her as the Katie from Today Show. Give her a break.. she’s the best!! We love you Katie!!

  3. It’s time to put Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News out of its misery. This was a huge miscalculation on the part of CBS. Ms. Coric is actually a very good interviewer and reporter, but unfortunately not a credible news anchor.
    While she was very good on the Today Show, the CBD Evening News is simply the wrong format for her. Her reporting on 60 Minutes has been quite solid and I think this is where she will ultimately end up. I really think it is imperative that CBS act quickly to give her a gracious yet timely exit off of the Evening News.
    CBS should bring back Bob Schieffer. I think there is also potential with Harry Smith and Russ Mitchell.

  4. Two words: Stone Phillips.

  5. I agree with the above comments by Bob and James and it’s got nothing to do with Couric’s ability as an interviewer or infotainment host.
    It’s been a downhill slide for CBS News ever since they booted Dan Rather for having the guts and journalistic responsibility to strip the veneer off of the President’s dubious military service record.
    For a franchise that once boasted journalists of the caliber of Cronkite, Rather and Edward R. Murrow it never made any sense at all to bring the perky host of a popular morning talk show over, change the set, pay her $15 million a year and try to brand her as a serious television journalist.
    Respectfully I disagree with Lennon’s comments above – the ratings and vast majority of commentary I’ve read would put his rosy take on Couric’s tenure in the minority.
    She’s not a bad person or television personality, she just doesn’t come off as an authoritative television journalist – I’d watch it if Bob Schieffer came back, but for me right now it’s all about Brian Williams when I want to take a break from BBC News on public television or NPR.
    I just don’t go to CBS for any kind of network television news anymore; what they did to Rather was inexcusable. CBS needs to decide what they really want their 6:30pm news broadcast to be – putting a talk show host at the desk to reach a broader demographic and refresh the brand isn’t working.
    My take is that the powers that be and Katie probably already realize this and are desperately trying to figure out how everyone can save face without causing irreparable damage to the CBS News brand.
    Bring back Bob.

  6. I thought you might like the opinion of a retired female teacher. You are the only newscaster that I refuse to miss. The gentlemen in your audience seem to resent a woman in your position. It’s the gender thing.
    Hang in there and know that you have a great audience of silent women and many guys that are not blinded by the gender thing.
    When Katie Couric speaks I listen. I trust your reporting, and I appreciate your ability to report the news without stooping to sensationalism.
    I have followed you for the 12 years since my retirement and I highly respect and appreciate you.
    You go girl. We love you.
    Mary Lou

  7. I don’t think her problem is gender-specific. She just doesn’t come across as having the gravitas that the seat requires. Even Diane Sawyer, who like Couric does morning TV, has more credibility in the anchor chair. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Matt Lauer would win over viewers were he to become the evening-news anchor.

  8. ML
    Point well taken, but as a man (albeit not one in Ms. Couric’s audience…)I just want to repeat – my comments above have NOTHING to do with her being a woman at all.
    Judy Woodruf, Margaret Warner and Gwen Ifill are just a few of the television journalists I consider the best in the business – I’ve always like Andrea Mitchell too.
    In my opinion few can match Katie Couric’s ability to sit down and interview popular culture or entertainment figures in a one-on-one setting, but for hard news/journalism she’s just not in the same league as any of the four I mentioned above.
    Given CBS’s relationship with CNN, Larry King should pass the torch to Katie and she’d totally rock in that sort of role – she does well on 60 Minutes and would thrive with that type of magazine-news show too and clean up in ratings.
    Sadly the shift from what CBS News was under Andrew Heyward to it’s present incarnation /format was just to ‘jarring’ for CBS’s traditional news audience – but obviously they don’t really care.
    It’s got nothing to do with gender – if Margaret Warner from the Newshour with Jim Leher was given the CBS desk I’d watch her because she’s a serious journalist with a resume of hard-hitting interviews on a range of complex subject matter.
    I wouldn’t want Al Roker or Matt Lauer doing a 6:30pm network broadcast either – it’s just not their format. It’s not a ‘strike against female journalists’ by any means; it was a risk that just didn’t pan out.

  9. Katie is a wonderful, talented broadcaster who needs to leave the Anchor Desk. The idea was a mistake from the first thought. It is not her fault, but she needs to be better utilized elsewhere.
    Mr. “L” “M” has earned and deserves the black mark for this, (and other CBS woes). Lord knows his ego will not be able, or willing, to stand up and admit the error of his decision. Someone else will have to leave his/her head at the Black Rock alter…but CBS News has gone beyond the eleventh hour and needs to pluck a new anchor from among their ranks immediately.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out…but play out it must…NOW.
    Murrow and Paley must be spinning in their graves.
    Peter Bright

  10. It is so funny that Gender bias is “never” a viable reason when someone criticizes a woman who gets a first chance opportunity to the “Men’s Table.” If anybody mentions the possibility of bias it is always denied.
    But truth is (and even women who deny it truly know this) NO woman gets any kind of equal evaluation when actually pulling in the money while they are pulling up their chair to the banquet. Just doesn’t happen.
    That’s ok, these very talented women are up to the task and though I’m sure they are saddened to see how far we haven’t come, they must be true to themselves. The consequence of not going for it is far worse than what the disapproving hacks can dish out.
    Thank you Katie, I specifically started watching CBS News because of you and will continue to do so.

  11. What Katie Couric didn’t know about the Today Show or the Tonight show, it’s not about the personality, it’s the show. When Katie, like many journalists, showed her bias and emotions about the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case I lost what little respect I had for her as a serious journalist. I never would have given her $o.15,for her talent, because I never thought that she had any. She nor any of the prompter readers is worth the amount of money that they get.
    My moto is, “journalism is a profession and a true journalist has an obsession for the truth.”

  12. I feel in my heart that Katie is better suited in a different assignment. She does not have the believe ability as say, Diane Sawyer. Her quirkyness and sillyness shines through so I can’t seem to take her serious enough. If Leslie Moonves can stop counting his money for a minute and step back and analyze her contribution he’ll see that I’m right. Both Leslie and Katie are well overpaid for what they do. Are they developing a cure for Cancer or Diabetes or any other health robbing killer ? If not they deserve a pay cut.

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