Katie Couric’s tailspin

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.

34 Responses to "Katie Couric’s tailspin"

  1. timr  September 18, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    she is also the editor of the program, the few nights that I watched, it seemed more like a morning lifestyles and good news program rather than just a 22 min program where we hear what should be news.
    Thank god for the BBC, you can at least get news from around the world-and have a news reader reading it, not a “superstar” who has to go where the big story is. The big 3 networks have turned news reporting into entertainment.
    Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s program Countdown, is an exception to the rule. He explains the news behind the headlines, and to hell with the “celebrity” part of other news programs. Murrow,Walter, and Huntley-Brinkley should be totally embarassed, or rolling in their graves, at what has happened to what were once real news programs

  2. Cathy  September 18, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    I worked for CBS Network Radio News in the Cronkite days and how anyone could think that Katie could replace Walter is beyond me. I have not seen the show, because I have no television (my choice, for over 30 years) but have been following the “free-fall” information. I am not surprised.

  3. Frenchy  September 18, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    I fail to understand how it makes any difference whether Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Barney the Dinosaur or the corpse of Peter Jennings delivers the news. Since the mainstream media can’t be trusted with *any* news, who cares which talking head they pay?

  4. Wanda Cummings  September 18, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    I watched Katie only one time. When she said Rush L. would be on her show the next night then that was it for me! If I want to listen to Rush then I will tune into his show which of course I WON’T! I want to simply hear and watch the news, no fluff, just the news. I watch Brian Williams and will continue to do so.

  5. Herb  September 18, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    I watch the BBC news, I know I will get what is “really” going on in the world. I also watch Lou Dobbs on CNN, I learn a heck of a lot from watching his show.

  6. Mister Baddass  September 18, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Let’s face it.

    Lester Holt should have been hired for the CBS News anchor.

    It would have been a bold move having the first African-American as anchor on network television.

    Not only is he qualified, he is believable.

    After Holt was passed over Brian Williams I was sure CBS would sign him up.

    But, it is more about glamour, styling and, profiling than news.

  7. udo  September 18, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    It all began to go bad when the networks redefined news as entertainment. (It can be entertaining–legitimately–but that’s not the same thing.) My preference is for the BBC world news, and even they’re a far cry today from the gold standard they established in the ’60s. All U.S. newsbroadcasting, including the all-news cable programs, has become little more than establishment propaganda. Dr. Goebbels may have died in 1945, but his legacy lives on.

  8. Kitty  September 18, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Who cares who read the news at CBS, or non-news as the case may be. Seems to me that there are a lot of Katie haters out here, and if you’re not a Katie hater, then the issue is that you want an experienced MAN to read the news for you. Good grief.

  9. Fran  September 18, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    CBS made it’s biggest blunder when they sacked Dan Rather. He is a newsman ,of which there are very few.

  10. Lynne E. Wexelma  September 19, 2006 at 12:43 am

    Maybe CBS should have President Bush read the news, so he could know what is going on in the world!

  11. Lynne E. Wexelma  September 19, 2006 at 12:44 am

    Maybe CBS should have President Bush read the news, so he could know what is going on in the world!

  12. liz  September 19, 2006 at 3:36 am

    Hey, Kutie Couric:

    “Navy Seals rock!” But your cheerleader reporting style does not.

  13. Irwin Moss  September 19, 2006 at 4:56 am

    I don’t think Ms. Couric is to be faulted for a cause, i.e. instead of a symptom. She is merely the ultimate sign of diminishing news departments after they became “profit centers” and began bleeding news and entertainment. She has become the focus. My view is that she and CBS should have known better. These are really smart people, I don’t kid you. But they do kid themselves. 22″ of nightly network “news” is both a joke and oxymoron. “News” is available 24/7 on tv, cable and radio. We don’t need the evening news. And local news on tv is a blight and insult to a cognitive mind. I offer no solution much as I would like to. All I can offer is one man’s opinion: Start putting on real hard news, not entertainment, with a couple of gutsy commentators and then let the public learn something, become informed, and make the ultimate decision. Of this I am sure: “copycatism” gives you one success while all the others are failures.

  14. DA*MAN  September 19, 2006 at 7:39 am

    Posted by: Mister Baddass | September 18, 2006 2:11 PM

    Lester Holt would have been #2, after Max Robinson of ABC’s World News Tonight. If you count cable, then he would be #3 behind CNN’s Bernard Shaw.

  15. DA*MAN  September 19, 2006 at 7:40 am

    Posted by: Mister Baddass | September 18, 2006 2:11 PM

    Lester Holt would have been #2, after Max Robinson of ABC’s World News Tonight. If you count cable, then he would be #3 behind CNN’s Bernard Shaw.

  16. A Nuffer  September 19, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Miss gummy smile, miss perky, Miss absolutely sickening.Never watched her, over rated for sure!
    Free speech? My ass!!!!

  17. Dick Murphy  September 19, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    Couric is cute, but not a newsperson. She should have known better than to make that change. Maybe she will return to Today!

    Both “timr” and “Frenchy” have made valid points. The Big 3 Networks have turned the news into entertainment. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC is the only real news program on TV.

    And, since the mainstream media can’t be trusted with any news they purvey, it makes no difference which talking head they use. They only spout what their masters permit them to tell us.

    There have been other good points made (ex: the shabby treatment CBS gave to Dan Rather), but those stand out as the brightest.

  18. Florence Murphy  September 19, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Poor Katie…she’s no Amy Goodman and couldn’t be since she’s only been a pretty, perky little girl for 16 years.

  19. ygbluig  September 20, 2006 at 3:45 am

    That’s an idea. They should have hired Amy Goodman as managing editor/anchor.
    She got way length, width and depth – much more depth – than Katie could ever hope for.
    Besides the White House still hates CBS and the ratings are in the toilet.
    What would the harm be?

  20. daryl  September 20, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    My feeling is Katie is an always be phoney,she is struggling to fit in with anyboby.Personally I don’t trust any news on TV never did,I research all my news on internet.The only way to the truth infowars.com calltodecision.com only a couple from the stack out there,A CFR member that never tells the truth will go down with the neocons she has no fredom of speech nor does she care!

  21. bluegal  September 20, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    When I heard Katie (WCBS Couric’s Notebook: White House)on the radio last week describing her awesome interview of Dubya and extolling his Texas swagger (which means competence to his supporters -cockiness to the rest of the world), I almost drove off the highway into a ditch. Oh, didn’t you know that he has the hardest job? She’s steering the CBS network right into the ditch – go, Katie, go!

  22. okiedokie  September 22, 2006 at 5:22 am

    Gee, I hate to tell you but latest news has Katie pretty much holding her own. Hmmmm.

  23. zeno  September 23, 2006 at 12:34 am

    I think most of the comments are beside the point–no one refers to the editorial content/slant of CBS. Let’s face facts–like it or not, the US is a center-right country, like France is a center-left country. Katie and CBS are known to be center-left, and they acknowledge this. Everyone acknowledges this. And Katie and CBS think they can package center-left and that center-right should like it. Even with A. Cooper at the helm, O’Reilly kills CNN–and it’s not because of O’Reilly’s personal charisma or his skills as a “news man.” It’s that Fox acknowledges was everyone left and right knows and sells to a center-right US audience–but CBS keeps thinking they can somehow change their market, instead of selling to the one that exists. Completely stupid, if you’re running a business. If you’re on a political mission, fine.

  24. Zeno  September 23, 2006 at 12:45 am

    It’s not looks or wardrobe–Greta does fine.
    It’s not her experience–O’Reilly kills A Cooper nightly, though it’s perfectly clear who is the news man of the two.
    It’t not format, or investment in news departments . . .

    Most of the comments above are completely beside the point. Face facts. The US is a center-right country, like France is a center-left country. You may not like it, but so it is. Deal with facts. CBS sells a center-left product. CBS, like much of the center-left, keeps thinking that if you dress up center-left the stupid bumkins center-right will buy it. Center-right didn’t buy Kerry in a ridiculous hunting outfit, and his ridiculous “I’m reporting for duty” salute at the convention, and they aren’t going to buy CBS news or Katie, and having a segment of Rush or anyone else won’t help. Plain fact is, people know the editorial slant of CBS and of Katie, and have known them for years. They are selling products that any fool should know are not well tailored to their audience.

  25. James Martin  October 12, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I don’t think Katie has done that bad of a job myself, and I am grateful for the “Free Speech” part of the program too. I mean, it’s about time we got to hear more than just the left wing side of things. It was good to see Rush L. on the air for sure!

  26. lylene  September 18, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    i hate to say this, but… told you so!

  27. Sharon King  September 18, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    I totally agree. I am a 55 year old professional woman and I’m not impressed with Katie. I’m not interested in getting the news from a model-type superstar person. I immediately switched to ABC with Charles Gibson. He’s a seasoned, knowledgeable news person. He’s someone I can trust with the news.

  28. TRUTH 101  September 18, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    I thought this might happen as well but I also think I know the reason why katie is rapidly becoming the fallen angel of the Evening News.

    FIRST: She is just TOO perky and TOO nice and smiles TOO much and AFTER ALL this is the NEWS and the NEWS these days is NOT GOOD on ANY night.

    SECOND: The NEWS is not like a party where everyone smiles and shakes hands and gives the “glad to see ya’s “even if they aren’t.

    THIRD: The news on any given night has more reminders of DEATH, DESTRUCTION, ILLEGAL ACTIONS and ACTIVITIES of our OWN GOVERNMENT, that a person even like Katie with a very beautiful smile and on camera friendliness second to none cannot succeed in putting a happy face on any newscast.

    There is the problem in a nutshell.

    Katie, unfortunatley has been typcast as they say as a nice person with talent….and NOT seen as a serious NEWSPERSON.

  29. LesserFool  September 18, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    Why does everything in America have to be “dressed up” and “flashy” to succeed? Are Americans that shallow? What ever happened to treating us like adults? Just give us the news. If I want to hear the likes of Limbaugh or Maher, I’ll tune in to their shows.

  30. CR  September 18, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    She’s like New Coke, this should be in the top ten list of corp. blunders

  31. california rick  September 18, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    …put Katie back on the ‘Today Show’ and Merideth back on ‘The View’ and get rid of Rosie – she’s ruining ‘The View’!!

  32. liz  September 18, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    she did not “do the news” … she had a show

  33. R. Benderall  September 18, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    ms Katie Couric is incompetent to “anchor” the “world-news”.
    A: it is obvious that she is not a journalist.
    B: it is obvious that she is full of herself.

    Give me a guy (who has some decades as a journalist/reporter) under his belt.

    And: ms Couric needs a fashion-(and make-up-)consultant. She looks as if she grabs the lousiest and oldest rags out of her closet.
    Look at the garb she was wearing on 11 September 2006.
    And look at her tasteless combination of a few evenings ago: red top, black skirt, and black-and-white shoes.

    All in all she does not strike me as a news-woman. She comes across as (not all that pretty) a face, which should run some entertainment-show.

    I am certain that CBS is pulling its hair out, and is trying to find a way to dump her.
    If I were the “topdog” of CBS I certainly would…

  34. anthny  September 18, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    Right on to Rick, the thing is they should put Merideth on CBS news.
    I saw the today show this morning and thought that Merideth would do a professional job reading the news and is very serious when need be.
    I think Katie is perfect for the morning show and that CBS should have left her at what she does best.
    The free speach segment sucks, I thought they were going to let everyday regular people speak, Linbaugh sucked and being the first to do the segment gave me and most likly everybody else a negitive attitude!
    I feel bad for Katie because she was hustled by CBS to leave her good job.

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