Katie Couric was off last week, so on one level it’s not fair to blame her for the fact that the CBS flagship newscast lost ten percent of its viewership last week, knocking it down below 4.9 million viewers, or half a million fewer than its all-time historical low.
On the other hand, Couric had already brought it down to that historic low the last two weeks.
Hitsville’s beef, remember, isn’t with Couric, though, as a skanky infotainment specialist she is about as qualified to sit in the anchor’s chair as Julie Chen, or Jeff Probst, for that matter.
It is with her tongue-bathing courtiers in the media news racket, who have been working overtime to tell us every little bit of positive Couric news but asleep at the switch when it comes to doing open-eyed reporting on either a) her astonishing ratings plunge or b) the discussions inevitably underway in Les Moonves’s office about what to do next.
Hitsville’s candidate, incidentally, is Probst, who can’t do any worse ratings-wise and will cost the company about $14 million less annually than Couric.
Ideally, CBS News would use that money to hire 100 full-time reporters, though it’s hard to see Mr. Julie Chen devoting money to improving the quality of the product; he could have done that instead of hiring Couric in the first place.
Couric, as I have suggested before, can do a nightly infotainment show, up against Leno; even with her insane salary it should be able to do OK in the 10 p.m. slot.
I wish Howard Kurtz and his fellows were inquiring inside CBS what the networks long-term idea for the Evening News is.
NBC now has an audience more than half again as big as CBS’s, and more than that in the demo; its command of network news is buttressed by two powerful growing forces.
The economics of MSNBC helps keep a large news staff and stars like Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd gainfully employed and busy; CBS, by contrast, has to maintain an international news organization for a tiny half-hour nightly broadcast, “60 Minutes” and not much else. Short of buying CNN, there’s no way it can compete.
And now NBC is plainly the new administration’s go-to network; not for nothing did Obama pepper his Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner speech with references to Chuck Todd, Mika Brzezinski, and Williams. It’s particularly ironic that the celeb-friendly Couric was outflanked in this way at the dawn of the most glamorous White House in nearly fifty years.
Now, NBC has some own problems, too, particularly MSNBC: Keith Olbermann has turned, seemingly permanently, into a pompous blowhard; Rachel Maddow does not have the gravitas to be a serous force; and as for Ed … I don’t really understand Ed.
Still, for NBC News, both of those forces will have the momentum of critical mass behind them
In other words, CBS News has no ratings; a tarnished, out-of-place star; and no bench. Its management has no ideas, and when faced with problems turns not to change but PR assaults. That has done nothing but mask deepening wounds inside.
What can it do now but jettison its news division?
Previously in Hitsville:
Couric’s ratings: It gets worse
Confidential to Tom Shales and Howard Kurtz: Katie Couric’s ratings are in the tank again!
Couric Watch: Ratings plummet!
Paging Katie Couric!
Dear Tom Shales
Katie Couricâ€”Where America Turns When the News Is Overâ„¢
Katie Couric, the News Anchor That Nobody Watchesâ„¢
Couric and CBS, lying
Should CBS jettison its news division?
Katie Couricâ€™s ratings hit a new low
Howie hearts Katie
Kurtz the lame
Couric, the debate, and the vaporization of CBS News
Katie Couric, a year laterÂ