[This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.]
To heck with Sarah Palin — Katie Couric may have earned her keep in the morning-show battle after all.
On Friday, ABC's "Good Morning America" — the longtime No. 2 show in the mornings — pulled even with NBC's usual No. 1 "Today" in a ratings tie, averaging 4.7 million total viewers apiece, according to Nielsen. "GMA" had narrowly won on Wednesday as well, although "Today" still won the week, by an average of just more than 200,000 viewers.
But the close shaves were news because the "GMA" guest host last week was none other than Couric, the former "Today" show anchor. The stunt drew a lot of attention, partly because NBC was so "desperate" (in the words of former co-host Meredith Vieira) to blunt the Couric invasion that producers brought Sarah Palin aboard Tuesday as guest host.
Technically, NBC was still ahead for Friday, with 4.719 million viewers compared with ABC's 4.694 million. But The Times and many other publications typically round to the nearest tenth, so the ratings were essentially the same.
Overall, "GMA" has been closing the gap with "Today" this year. Season to date, "Today" has been winning by the smallest margins in 16 years.
What did you think of Couric on "GMA"?
[For the record, 3:19 p.m. April 9: An earlier version of this post misstated the Friday averages for "Today" and "Good Morning America" as the averages for the week, not just that day.]
—Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: Katie Couric with George Stephanopoulos, left, and Emeril Lagasse on "Good Morning America" last week. Credit: Ida Mae Astute/Associated Press.