Stephen M. Silverman
August 01, 2005 08:00 AM

As the ratings gap between the two network morning powerhouses Today and Good Morning America narrows, and then widens, and then narrows again, NBC host Katie Couric’s $13-million a year contract is due to expire next spring.

Amid wild speculation about her next step, the New Yorker magazine reports that the Today anchor could jump ship to take over Dan Rather’s vacated evening news position at CBS.

With 14 years of Today under her belt, Couric, 48, tells that magazine that she has twice met with CBS boss Les Moonves. But she declines to say what her final plans would be.

“I have, when it’s operating on all four cylinders, one of the best jobs in television,” she said. “At the same time, everybody needs recharging.”

Once America’s sweetheart, Couric has lately faced criticism about her reputed backstage behavior, with some critics also carping that she rides roughshod over her cohost, Matt Lauer.

“I feel like a human pinata,” she states in the profile. “The disappointing thing is, no candy is going to spill out.”

In a separate article posted on the New Yorker’s Web site, the magazine’s media writer Ken Auletta addresses some of the public perceptions and attitudes about one-time girl-next-door Couric.

“Does Couric – like most people who are paid a lot of money and enjoy fame and are surrounded by courtiers – sometimes exhibit diva-like behavior?” posits Auletta, who then quickly answers: “Yes. But she can also conduct a brilliant interview, and is a great mom, and has both humor and charm.”

As for a double standard when it comes to criticizing TV personalities, Auletta admits that one exists, saying: “When was the last time a commentator wrote about Matt Lauer’s loud suits in the way they write about Couric’s ‘sexy’ dresses or shapely legs?”

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