Just Fire Katie Couric Already

Personally, I don’t get my news from the Big 3 because the news they dole out is incredibly slow, incomplete, and dull compared to the info you can get from the internet. However, the inordinate amount of hand wringing about Katie Couric bombing in the ratings has caught my eye,

The numbers are stark. Eight months into Katie Couric’s job as the first woman to anchor a network newscast on her own, her “CBS Evening News” has not only settled back into its long-held position of last among the evening news broadcasts, but also regularly falls short of the newscast that Ms. Couric replaced.

In the latest week’s ratings, “CBS Evening News” had its worst performance since the Nielsen company installed its “people meter” ratings system 20 years ago…..as Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, acknowledged. “We are a distant third,” he said. “There is no way to sugarcoat that fact.”

…There has been a cascade of hostile comments in the press. Members of the news staff were quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer as suggesting that Ms. Couric might stay only through the 2008 election. And a recent Gallup poll reinforced the notion that Ms. Couric had become a polarizing figure: 29 percent of respondents said that they did not like her, as opposed to 51 percent who said that they liked her. (Her competitors at ABC and NBC both had negative scores under 20 percent and positives around 60.)

…Despite the low ratings and the reports of sniping from colleagues, the mood inside CBS News remains unshakably upbeat. In an interview in her office overlooking the set, Ms. Couric sought to convey the message, backed up by CBS management, that she was not going anywhere. Not now, not after the 2008 election, not anytime encompassed by her initial five-year contract.

Nor does she want to go anywhere, she insists. “I have no regrets,” she said.

…Ms. Couric’s defenders ask whether a man taking the CBS job would have had his looks, hair, and clothes commented on in the same way as Ms. Couric’s. Or if a single male anchor’s social life would be almost daily fodder for the tabloids.

“Maybe we underestimate the huge shift this represented,” Mr. McManus said. “It was almost a watershed event to have a woman in that chair.” He added, “There is a percentage of people out there that probably prefers not to get their news from a woman.”

The excerpt you just read, which was in the New York Times by the way, is from a piece titled, “Is It the Woman Thing, or Is It Katie Couric?” Wouldn’t a better question be, “If she were a man, wouldn’t she have already been fired?”

Here’s the bottom line: Katie Couric is a talking head who was brought in to read lines off a teleprompter. For whatever reason, people don’t seem to like watching Katie read her lines off a teleprompter as much as they like watching other people on other networks read their lines off a teleprompter.

That’s why the simple solution is just to dump Katie Couric and find a new CBS anchor that people do want to watch. If a man were bombing this badly, that’s what they’d do, isn’t it? So, why should Katie Couric get a free pass on not measuring up just because she’s a woman?

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