Skip to comments.What Katie (Couric) did next: why do they care so much?
Posted on 04/09/2006 10:43:38 PM PDT by MadIvan
This week is the first of a new epoch in American history. It might come to be known by historians as the Post-NBC-Couric Age, or possibly The Second Era of Katie. It is the first full week after Katie Couric announced that she was leaving the television network NBC to join the television network CBS.
You may not have heard of Ms Couric. She is a perky, personable 49-year-old TV presenter. After 16 years as co-anchor of Today, the long-running breakfast show, she has jumped ship to host the main evening news at the rival network CBS.
Now in Britain the departure of a prominent TV news person from one channel to another might make the news pages of the tabloids. It would probably get a fair amount of comment in the media section of the more serious papers. But that would be about it.
Not in America. Here Katie’s departure is officially a National Event of Historic Significance. Imagine Tony Blair resigning as Prime Minister to run for leader of the Conservative Party, José Mourinho taking over at Manchester United or the Prince of Wales leaving the Duchess of Cornwall for Abi Titmuss. Now imagine all three of those events happening on the same day — and you’re beginning to get an idea of the convulsions this event represents in the weirdly self-absorbed world of the American media.
For several days last week, TV and newspapers covered little else. We were treated to serious disquisitions on the state of morale in the various newsrooms, as well as learned critiques of Ms Couric’s hair (several thousand dos in 16 years), legs (better than your average TV newsman’s) and salary (about $20m, apparently).
Iraq was all but ignored. The battle over immigration reform went unheard. Even the start of the baseball season took a back seat.
Why? Ms Couric is not the first person to change networks. She is not the first woman to host an evening news show — there’s already one on ABC. What’s more, in the cable, satellite and internet era, those famous programmes and their presenters have in any case only a fraction of the reach and significance they used to have. A casual look at the products advertised during their commercial breaks gives you a hint of their shrivelled audiences — they’re nearly all for haemorrhoidal ointment, incontinence pants and assisted-living communities.
So why the obsession? The answer is the level of near sepulchral seriousness with which the US media regards itself. Now I know we can all be a little overly self-reflective. It may not have escaped your attention that there are some in the British media who behave as if the world stops at Shepherds Bush or Canary Wharf. But journalists’ self-absorption is on a different plane in America: newspapers, radio and TV see themselves as a kind of holy trinity that guides and protects the nation.
The staff at The New York Times think of themselves, without irony, as an indispensable part of America’s constitutional settlement. The paper still boldly proclaims on its masthead: “All The News That’s Fit To Print” — and its editors and reporters really think that is a literal description.
In TV Land, one of Ms Couric’s predecessors actually used to sign off his TV evening news broadcast with a one-word exhortation to his viewers. “Courage!” he would say, evidently convinced that without his nightly spiritual reinforcement the nation would surely collapse into a self-immolating funk.
CNN’s American schedules are now dominated by a man who, I’m convinced, has become so absorbed in his own centrality that he thinks he is running a parallel government to the one that actually exists in Washington. Wolf Blitzer’s news show is called The Situation Room, and its main feature is a bank of TV screens just like the real Situation Room. Contributors to his programme are now called members of his “ National Security Council”.
And here’s the weird thing — nobody in media world ever laughs at any of this. It evidently occurred to nobody that there were more important things to ponder than Ms Couric’s career. That’s because in their world, there is no more important thing. Or perhaps I’m just jealous.
She's replacing Dan Rather, the bar isn't that high.
Perky, so I've heard. Personable - ROFL! About as personable as a piranha!
Who is this Katie person? A RAP musician?
How will they hide her horrendously disgusting and malformed gumline?
EXCELLENT commentary! They appear to get it in Britain more than most do here. Thanks for the post, Ivan!
Here's someone who thinks as highly of the American media as I do.
:CNNs American schedules are now dominated by a man who, Im convinced, has become so absorbed in his own centrality that he thinks he is running a parallel government to the one that actually exists in Washington. Wolf Blitzers..."
The Poms got that right.
Let me tell you about Kaite
I'm sick of Katie
Got that Katie.
LOL...The Couric CBS Comedy News is coming to the MSM. As a news anchor I think she will be short lived.
I was thinking almost exactly the same thing.
Katie Cronkite pees on Black Rock for 70 million bones.
I've never ever watched her.
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