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Katie Couric

By RD Heldenfels Published: June 1, 2006

If you haven't read enough about Katie's farewell, you can find my column for today's Beacon Journal right here.

Because I had school carpool yesterday morning, as well as a deadline for my weekly mailbag column, I watched the ''special edition'' of ''Today'' in an odd fashion -- watching it live from about 7:45 to 9 a.m. while I was finishing the mailbag, then watching the 7-8 and 9-10 a.m. portions on Wednesday afternoon, from a recording I had made. (I also revisited some of the sections I had seen live.) As is often the case with recordings, this made it much easier to watch, since I could fast-forward through the ads, news and weather updates, closeups of Joan Rivers and parts of the (many) songs.

Some things I didn't get to in my column: Harvey Fierstein, whom I like, repeatedly saying ''only for you'' to Katie about his rising so early to pay tribute; the real affection she felt for Gene Shalit and the signs of strain in her dealings with Willard Scott (who was apparently not Katie's biggest fan); the blandness of Katie's musical taste based on what we heard -- although Tony Bennett's timeless, and seemingly unfazed by singing outside in the morning; the way that, for all the talk about Katie's hair, she seems to have had numerous lipstick issues over the years, too. Or is it lip gloss? Beats me. Women's cosmetics are a mystery.

But, as should have been clear in the column, there's no mystery about why so many people love Katie, and why she could really turn ''The CBS Evening News'' into something interesting. She just doesn't dare become a news reader, or a too somber field reporter. Instead, she needs to react to the news the way she has reacted to stories on ''Today'' over the years -- through real emotion bonded to a certain coolness of delivery.

I know, some of you are muttering about the resulting decline in TV news. Come on, folks, that fight's been over for years. (Paddy Chayefsky insisted that ''Network'' was NOT satire.) A newscast built around Katie won't send anyone another few yards down the slippery slope. She may even prove to be a protector of news, using her personality to bring people information they would not seek out otherwise. 

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