Yesterday Katie Couric confirmed one of the worst kept secrets in the history of the news business when she announced that she was leaving the CBS Evening News when her contract expires at the end of May.
Couric also admitted that the anchor job was probably not the best fit for her skill set.
Couric: You know I think that I’m excited about the future and about doing something that’s just a little more in my wheelhouse. While it was a privilege to sit in that chair that once was occupied by Walter Cronkite. You know it’s a pretty confining venue. And I think I’m looking forward to doing what I think I do best which is interacting with people, interviewing people, having sort of more extended conversations.
Basically, more like what she did when she was at the Today Show before then-CBS News president Sean McManus decided that Couric would help right a ship left at sea in the aftermath of the Dan Rather- Bush National Guard controversy.
Instead, Couric proved right from the start how much the anchor chair was “out of her wheelhouse” as she struggled to adapt from the lighter, fluffier fare of the Today Show to the more serious buttoned-down tone of the Evening News.
Couric knew going in that the new job was not a good fit, but with CBS offering her $15 million per year and the opportunity to be the first solo female anchor on a network evening news program, it was just too much to resist.
Now, five years later, CBS and Couric are parting company and the network has little to show for its investment. They are still mired in third place in the evening news race, the audience for the news continues to shrink and they are only now beginning to recover from an advertising slump brought about by a deep recession.
CBS was blinded by the media hype that turned Couric into “America’s Sweetheart” while at NBC. Hopefully the executives at CBS have learned that they shouldn’t believe everything they read or see in the media.