It says something – it says a lot – about the state of TV news that Katie Couric’s departure from Today makes for a more momentous headline than the fact that she’ll become television’s first solo female anchor at the CBS Evening News.
What do you think is more intriguing: (1) the thought of Katie sitting down in the chair that was once occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather to deliver the news under the august CBS eye? Or (2) wondering who’ll take her place alongside Matt Lauer amid the comfy chairs on NBC’s Today set? Of course, (2) is the one jumping up and down and waving its hands.
And I couldn’t be happier with reports that Meredith Vieira has been mulling over the job. Vieira, the soccer-mom deity from ABC’s The View! She’d be perfect: She has solid news credentials, and she has a presence that’s relaxed, very human, mildly sunny – she’s like a promising local forecast on the Weather Channel. The woman was born to sit in front of a camera at sunup with a hot beverage. And if Vieira moves to Today, what will happen with the ladies at The View? Many intensely dramatic scenarios, all of them involving co-host Star Jones Reynolds, dart through the mind.
This brings us back to question (1). Some commentators have suggested that Couric would be making a mistake by jumping to CBS, that she won t be at her best as an anchor staring into the camera and intoning the major developments of the day. Well that’s just crazy talk: This is Katie Couric, not Tori Spelling. Does Couric have any less gravitas than Matt Lauer? (She has more.) She’s incredibly skilled, she’s smart, she’s a face familiar to every American. There should be no doubt she can pull it off.
The bigger concern is with the evening news itself: Does the half-hour wrapup at sundown really matter anymore? In an age of infotainment, when the day can start off with Today (or Good Morning America) and end with Stephen Colbert, with instant internet updates on what s happening around the world, the evening news can feel like a bit of a buzzkill. Frankly, the next anchor at CBS should be Star Jones Reynolds.
But good luck, Katie Couric.