NEW YORK – Katie Couric is leaving her anchor post at "CBS Evening News" less than five years after becoming the first woman to solely helm a network TV evening newscast.
A network executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Couric has not officially announced her plans, reported the move to The Associated Press on Sunday night. The 54-year-old anchor is expected to launch a syndicated talk show in 2012 and several companies are vying for her services.
Couric's move from NBC's "Today" show was big news in 2006, and she began in the anchor chair with a flourish that September. She tried to incorporate her strengths as an interviewer into a standard evening news format and millions of people who normally didn't watch the news at night checked it out. But they drifted away and the evening newscast reverted to a more traditional broadcast.
After those first few weeks, the "CBS Evening News" settled into third place in the ratings and is well behind leader Brian Williams at NBC's "Nightly News" and second-place Diane Sawyer at ABC's "World News."
I'll bet the network STILL made lots of money off her employment in the meawhile, or else she'd have been fired in year one.
After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the "CBS Evening News" anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 -- possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.
Ms. Couric isn't even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.
Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Ms. Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult "Evening News" back into first place. Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Ms. Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush's National Guard service.
You still didn't address Daine Sawyer's primetime news leadership as #2.
This is selective bias at its most hawkeye.
Katie Couric was in a leadership role? Horseshit. I don't look to news anchors to provide leadership, and anyone who does deserves the mess they will make of themselves.
I thought Couric did an excellent job interviewing Sarah Palin.
I admire Couric more than Sawyer.