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Relationship between CBS and Couric ending with a whimper, not a bang

Katie Couric was chided by David Letterman this week for thinking of leaving her job as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

"It's not like it's a temp gig," Letterman told Couric, reminding her that other anchors "ride into the sunset."

COURIC For Couric, the sun apparently sets around 2 p.m. Don't blame her, though. That anchor seat has lost a lot of value since it was occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. In fact, a case could be made that Couric traded down when she left NBC's "Today" for CBS.

Now she wants to try daytime. What's interesting is that CBS does not appear to be making a big push to keep her in the anchor chair. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who was instrumental in wooing Couric away from NBC to CBS, is sitting back and letting the new leadership at CBS News -- Chairman Jeff Fager and President David Rhodes, call the shots, according to people familiar with the situation.

Moonves may not want to be seen publicly pursuing someone who clearly has their mind made up. Perhaps singing "Happy Birthday" to Couric for a video the network made for her in January was as far as he was willing to go.

That Couric is consulting with her former "Today" producer (and ex-NBC Universal CEO) Jeff Zucker probably hasn't helped her relationship with her current bosses at CBS. It will be interesting to see if CBS seriously considers going after a Couric talk show or passes.

PELLEY Inside CBS, attention is starting to focus on Scott Pelley as the leading candidate for Couric's job should she bolt, which seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Pelley, a "60 Minutes" correspondent, is close to Fager, who besides being chairman of CBS News continues to executive produce the newsmagazine.

Pelley has been with CBS for more than 21 years. If he is given the job, odds are the network won't have to worry about him eyeing his next big deal or wondering what else is on the horizon.

If Couric does leave, her stint at CBS will be one of the shortest for an evening news anchor. Cronkite did it for almost 20 years and Rather for more than two decades. ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Tom Brokaw also put in over 20 years anchoring. While ABC weathered some instability with the anchor slot after Jennings died, Diane Sawyer seems willing to take Letterman's advice and ride into the sunset. NBC's Brian Williams also seems entirely comfortable in his job.

There will be lots of analysis about Couric's run at CBS News. She did not boost ratings the way CBS would have liked. Her persona, perfect for the morning, ultimately did not work as well in the evenings. The media seemed more obsessed than viewers about her role as CBS News anchor. In daytime, she will be back in her comfort zone.

-- Joe Flint


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Photos: Top right: Katie Couric. Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images. Bottom left: Scott Pelley. Credit: John Filo/CBS.

Comments () | Archives (218)

CNN is no longer my viewing channel..blocked out! all black!!!! it is like BET channel. Plantation English, and Primitive mentally challenged reporting...... the men are girly types, the girls are butchie....it must be a black thing...Parsons being black, always had his rear end in the air for any passing trades.

It was the biased liberal reporting of Couric that drove me over to Fox News. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?

Paid too much, leading to expectations that couldn't be met, perfect setup for failure.

Two words. Connie Chung. Don't you remember how short her evening news career went. Katie has at least out-lived Connie's stay on the small screen news slot.

Never been a fan of Couric and I won't miss her. Nonetheless, the difficulty of the job must be recognized and Couric conducted herself admirably. I wouldn't wish the responsibility and concomitant criticism on anyone.

I stopped watching the Today Show after realizing that Katie was supporting Gore on that show. I never watched her CBS News Gig because I did not believe that a perky morning show host could manage that assignment while being pushed to the extreme left. What the Newspapers and big three programming wizards do not understand is that this country is in the Middle and your media should reflect that fact. The landscape will change significantly in the next 10 years and the news will come from the internet and not the big three. I can't wait for that to happen.

Network Evening News Newspapers on paper. Whatever Couric decides to do next, it certainly won't be as a part of either of these dying relics.

Won't be sorry to see Couric go but not sure Pelley is much of an improvement. What you need is a lot more insight and courage in your news department. Until you do, (not likely), I'm getting my news online.

Its about time they sacked her. She is not a news person. I've not watched CBS news since she was announced as anchor -- and will not until she is sacked!

Posted by: phoenixandrew | March 24, 2011 at 04:21 PM

"Bring back Dan Rather. He was the only newsman to speak the truth about Duhbya being AWOL when he was at the Texas Air National Guard."

You are joking right??? That story he did was a big LIE.
Rather was the biggest joke in media!!!

I wish Bob Shieffer was a few years younger so he could anchor CBS News from now on. I have nothing against Katie Couric and think she did a good job--but I feel Shieffer (and of course, Cronkite) had the gravitas to make me think I was receiving the plain, unvarnished truth not colored with opinions or bias.
I've trusted CBS for years and hope that trust is not now misplaced.

Reading these comments, I am not surprised to see so many people saying network news is dead, However, as far as I'm concerned, most of the cable news (and of course, FOX) is colored with opinions and bias more so than the network news. And for those of you who grew up with cable news--I'm sorry for you--you don't know what REAL truth in newscasting is.

I hope I never see Katie's face on TV again. I hardly watch tv, but am very tempted to cancel it since it's such a rip-off. They clearly make way too much money to pay an idiot like Katie mega bucks.

Why do people even watch network news anymore? I grew up on it and watched it every night until about 15 years ago when I started getting my news from the internet. I've tried to watch network news a couple of times since but its' so dumbed down and insulting that I had to turn it off.

I can read more news in 5 minutes than I can get in 30 on television and I won't even go into Fox News...

If Katie is only a reader, why the enormous salary?
Stop running her down. I love her. She reads the news with a straight face, thank God. Diane with her eternal sing-song smiles, no matter, what the news are, as if she were talking to her children, grates on my nerves.
So, the networks are biased? What else is new?
Watch BBC, Aljezeera, RT, Deutsche Welle, and the Israeli news, and you will see the "other side" of every problem.

I disagree that the anchor seat has lost a lot of value. For all the hype surrounding her crowning, she didn't deliver. This is simply the Peter Principle in action.

Anchors need some degree of gravitas and clearly Couric, while a fine broadcaster, did not have this quality.

KC is much too honest for u guys. u guys who only get ur news from blogs, which has no fact checking element involved. The network news has to be factual n matter what label you put on it liberal or conservative. For this reason I don't watch Fox. No Programs, news, etc because i can't support the foreigner Rupert Murdoch in his attempt to shape American public opinion. I love the NFL, but i won't watch Fox telecasts, including the Super Bowl.

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