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Katie, Katie, Katie

By RD Heldenfels Published: April 5, 2006

In case you missed it, here's the transcript of Katie Couric's farewell announcement on ''Today'' this morning: Katie's news.

And here are statements from various NBC folks about her departure: Bye, bye.

And, just to give you an idea of what she's going to get more of in her new job, here's the conservative Media Research Center's take on Couric: ''Liberal Tilt.'' (There's a link there to about 15 pages of Couric comments MRC did not like.) I also asked Media Matters, a group that monitors what it considers conservative bias in the news, about Couric. A list of some of their concerns about her is at the end of this post.

I have pasted CBS's official announcement about Couric after my remarks, since I don't have an online link at the moment.

Now, a comment: Is Katie Couric out of her mind?

I know the morning shift can be a tough one. I know that she has done all she can in the morning, and that the longer she stays at ''Today,'' the greater the risk of declining audience, even if that decline is not her fault. (NBC's troubles in other parts of the day, for example, damage the promotional base for ''Today.'')

But in going to CBS evening news -- as well as ''60 Minutes'' and her own prime-time specials -- she is giving up a great pulpit for a smaller one.

In the mornings, she had hours to show different aspects of her ability as a journalist and her charm as a personality. (When thinking about Couric as an interviewer not long ago, I kept re-hearing ''Mack the Knife'' in my head -- thinking of Couric as one with pretty teeth that know how to bite.) She could make tonal shifts. And she was not always bound by a need to deliver the news of the day.

To be sure, the new CBS newscast may be more personality-driven under Couric, who will also have the title of managing editor of the program. But it's still just over 20 minutes a night, barely enough time to say hello, let alone to let people know you.

I do like Katie on the air, most of the time. I've interviewed her, and enjoyed that, too. And if her move to CBS revives its evening newscast, she'll have done something remarkable -- not only breaking new ground, but succeeding at it. But I'm not sure that she can fill this job and still be the Katie who connected with viewers so well on ''Today.''

Now, here's the boilerplate from CBS:
Katie Couric, one of broadcasting’s most respected and popular journalists, is joining CBS News, it was announced today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation, and Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports.

As part of the multi-year agreement, Couric will become Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC beginning in September.  Couric also will contribute to 60 MINUTES, the most successful program in television history and its most respected news magazine, and will anchor CBS News primetime specials as well.

With the appointment, Couric becomes the first female solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast.

            “It has been a great privilege to be one of the caretakers of a television institution like the ‘Today’ show for 15 years,” said Couric.  “Joining CBS is a unique opportunity that came at the right time for me.  I’m thrilled to become part of the rich tradition of CBS News and look forward to working with the many extraordinarily talented people there.”

            “I’m personally so excited that Katie Couric is coming to the CBS News family,” said Moonves.  “With this move, our News Division takes yet another giant leap forward.  Katie is simply one of the best in the business and represents a tremendous addition to CBS News, which continues to grow and improve every day under Sean’s leadership.  Seasoned broadcasters who are at once respected, charismatic and known throughout this country and beyond are increasingly important in this fragmented media landscape.  I’m proud to have a talent like Katie who personifies this rare combination of qualities, and look forward to the many contributions that she will make not only to our developing evening news broadcast, but to our entire news operation.”

           “This is an enormously proud day for all of us at CBS News,” said McManus.  “Katie joining our team signifies not only her commitment to doing first-rate journalism, but our strong commitment to producing the highest quality work done by the best reporters, producers and writers in television news.  She is a key ingredient as we work towards our goal of making CBS News the number one news organization in America.  This organization was built on quality and integrity, and Katie and her CBS News colleagues will continue to carry that legacy into the 21st century.  I would also like to offer our deepest thanks to Bob Schieffer for his outstanding work on the evening broadcast and look forward to his continuing role at CBS News.”

            “I couldn’t be happier,” said Schieffer, Anchor, CBS EVENING NEWS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER.  “Katie and I have been friends for years.  She’s going to be a terrific addition to CBS News.  I think we’re going to love Katie, and I think Katie’s going to love us.”

            “In the past year, the CBS EVENING NEWS has begun to build a broadcast with a fresh, accessible approach, and viewers have responded,” said Rome Hartman, Executive Producer, CBS EVENING NEWS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER.  “Katie is the perfect person to complete that process.  As a journalist, an interviewer and a broadcaster, she is as good as they come.  As anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS, the same qualities that viewers have appreciated for Katie’s entire career will make her great:  honesty, openness, integrity.  Finally, what people appreciate most about Katie is that she’s real -- that’s really her up on the screen.  I cannot wait to start working with her.”

            “Katie is a world-class reporter,” said Jeff Fager, Executive Producer, 60 MINUTES.  “There aren’t many people in this business who can conduct an interview as well as she can.  It’s no wonder Don Hewitt was chasing her for years to be on this broadcast, and it’s exciting that it’s finally going to happen.” (end CBS material)

Here are some notes from Media Matters:

Couric: Wal-Mart "is as American as mom and apple pie"

Summary: On NBC's Today, Katie Couric introduced a report on Wal-Mart's expansion of its retail business in China by telling viewers: "It's a company that is as American as mom and apple pie."
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Today issued non-correction to Couric falsehood

Summary: One day after NBC's Katie Couric chided Howard Dean for saying that Democratic lawmakers received no campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, Matt Lauer said that "technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct." In fact, Dean was correct and Couric was wrong.
Friday, Jan 27, 2006

With Today hosts' record of silence on conservative falsehoods, Couric chided Dean for accurate statement

Summary: NBC's Katie Couric wrongly challenged Howard Dean when he made the accurate statement that "all these folks involved in getting money" from Jack Abramoff "are Republicans." However, Couric and Matt Lauer have often failed to challenge guests who assert conservative falsehoods or make misleading claims that enhance conservative positions.
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Couric pitted constitutional scholars versus "Americans" who "don't want another September 11"

Summary: NBC Today host Katie Couric, in an interview with Tim Russert, characterized the debate about the Bush administration's domestic spying as a controversy between "legal analysts and constitutional scholars" on the one hand and "Americans" who "don't want another September 11" on the other.
Monday, December 19, 2005

Couric echoed conservative rhetoric, suggested Alito "is a strict constructionist" who "will interpret the Constitution literally"

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

's All-Spin Zone: NBC gave O'Reilly forum to compare advocates of withdrawal from

Iraq to Hitler appeasers

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NBC's Couric failed to mention

Clinton's positive rating is 10 percent higher than negative
Monday, Oct 25, 2004

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