With her overhyped CBS Evening News Show not yet three weeks old, perky Katic Couric is in a ratings free fall.
Writes John Friedman of Market Watch:
Katie Couric, at first, lived up to all the hype surrounding her move from NBC’s "Today" show to "The CBS Evening News." Couric’s show finished first in the much-followed television ratings on her first few nights after her ballyhooed debut on Sept. 5.But in a remarkably short time, even by American television standards, Couric has slipped and her program fell back to a position that CBS unhappily knows all too well — third place, trailing NBC and ABC.
You could trace her fall from grace to three primary reasons:
a) America clearly didn’t trust Katie during the biggest news story of the season, the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001;b) CBS’ hype for the new evening news performed much like laughing gas does on a dental patient, lasting for only a brief time before reality — and pain — sets in again;c) some of the innovations aren’t fulfilling their promise and seem to smack of making change for the sake of making change (and securing splashy headlines) and nothing else.It’s surprising, in a way, that the 49-year-old Couric didn’t get a better reception on the big 9/11 day. From my seat, I watched the networks show a resilient nation, one full of pride and strength, a contrast to other such remembrances when the nation still seemed to be overwhelmed by its collective grief. In a word, call it a welcomed spirit of optimism.Let’s face it. Does anyone on TV radiate optimism and cheeriness quite as profoundly as Katie Couric? That’s why it’s a little mystifying why the nation didn’t respond to her.But the real answer for that reversal may lie in CBS’ changes to the show and the way it marketed Couric. Releasing promotional pictures of an enhanced and much skinnier Katie could be dismissed as being fairly harmless but, nonetheless, struck me as a bad omen.CBS didn’t market Couric from the outset as a battle-hardened, serious newswoman and the logical successor in 2006 to her predecessor, Bob Schieffer. Instead, to me, the network seemed anxious (desperate? obsessed?) to present Couric as a Desperate Housewife meets Carrie Bradshaw (from "Sex in the City"). I think CBS and Couric would have been better off by betting that the nation could accept a competent, seasoned journalist perched on the anchor stool.This reinforced the viewers’ (as well as all of those pain-in-the-neck critics’) worst expectations, that a perky Katie would take over the show.