Skip to comments.History Repeats Itself (Katie Couric-"Baba Wawa" Evening News Flop)
Posted on 04/29/2007 5:47:05 AM PDT by Nextrush
There's been a lot of talk about how badly CBS is doing with its high priced ($15 million a year) Katie Couric as anchor of the "CBS Evening News."
Back in 1976, ABC News made a big splash into the ratings tank by hiring (at the then unheard of $1 million a year) Barbara Walters to co-anchor its evening news with Harry Reasoner.
Like Couric, Walters was then co-anchor of NBC's "Today" show where she had built up a reputation as an aggressive, go-getter and in the minds of some, a prima donna b***h.
As a teenager, I remembered Walters on "Today" tearing into Norma Gabler, a Texas parent who dared to challenge liberalism in school textbooks.
Walters said "what right" did she have to question the textbooks?
I personally was frequenting the ABC News when I first stumbled on it during the communist conquest of Cambodia and Vietnam 31 years ago this month.
What drew me was Howard K. Smith's approach to the news and in particular his commentary. It was unabashedly anti-communist.
Smith's experiences with Nazi Germany as a student and reporter caused him to understand the reality of the situation.
Unknown to me back then, Smith, who got fired from CBS (1961) for wanting to condemn segregation on-air blasted liberal bias in a 1970 "TV Guide" interview that drew thousands of positive responses.
His comments included: "If Ronald Reagan says something, its bad, regardless of what he says. Well, I'm unwilling to condemn an idea because a particular man said it. Most of my colleagues do just that."... "They hate Richard Nixon irrationally"......Mr. Fulbright (Arkansas Senator-Bill Clinton mentor)--who incidentially has voted against every civil-rights act --is not criticized for his want of character. He is beloved by reporters, by everyone of my group, which is left-of-center. It's one of the mysteries of my time!.."
Howard K. Smith started anchoring ABC Evening News in 1969 and in late 1970 he was paired with Harry Reasoner.
By early 1974 Smith and Reasoner had taken ABC's Evening News to a 23 percent share (still 3rd place) with NBC just slightly ahead in 2nd place at 24 percent.
Then late in 1975 Smith got moved off the anchor chair to do just commentary while Reasoner anchored.
Reasoner was a nice guy, but a poor writer. Guys like Andy Rooney at CBS polished the copy to make a friendly man look intelligent on TV. Reasoner alone lacked the seriousness of Smith in presenting the news.
Reasoner's ego was big, too, and that may have led to his being made solo anchor. However, in 1976 his world was turned upside down with ABC's announcement that Barbara Walters would co-anchor with him, becoming the first woman to anchor a network evening news program.
Barbara joined the news and the viewers and ratings went south even more than they had when Smith left. After Walters came on, I went off to watch or listen to something else.
The Barbara Walters I preferred to watch the most was Gilda Radner's "Baba Wawa" parody on "Saturday Night Live."
CBS improved its ratings (2nd Place) with Bob Schieffer at the anchor desk, a temporary move, but then took the plunge with Katie. Now "CBS Evening News" is in the tank and Katie's future departure is being speculated.
Barbara Walters got pulled from the evening news so she could focus on her talent of interviewing people. Her celebrity interviews drew top ratings for ABC in the 80's and 90's.
She's hanging on even now with a show ("The View") that she co-owns with ABC.
So I can see a bright future for this "perky" prima donna liberal just like liberal prima donna b***h Barbara Walters had. (That "B" word was applied to her in the 1980's in a trade publication article about how Walters treated the dozens of behind the scenes people at ABC she worked with)
CBS needs to change and it needs to find its serious heritage of Edward R. Murrow's style, Walter Cronkite's work ethic (I'll give Walter that much) and of course the independent opinionated attitude of Howard K. Smith that William Paley chucked to the side in 1961.
That's CBS's future successful anchor-dare I say "anchorman." The liberal stock news program needs replacement but with a serious minded, hard working person who isn't obssessed with themselves as with the mission of the news program.
I don’t want a woman to be delivering my serious news. Or sports, either.
Any of the networks could have zoomed into first and continuously widened their lead by hiring Tony Snow as their anchor.
Figure the odds.
The first and foremost factor is this: it's just a job to them. They have to put out a news program (1) to be taken seriously within the business, and (2) to compete for a small but elderly, loyal, and relatively wealthy audience that tunes in the nightly news and doesn't channel surf during the commercials for Polident, Depends, and all the drug ads.
But at the end of the day, it's just a job. Going conservative, or even "fair and balanced," is rewarded by the good thoughts of millions of American conservatives, who channel surf anyway, and who's good thoughts are worth absolutely nothing. It's also rewarded by millions of hate-mail letters in the mail room, field reporters kidnapped, held for ransom, and killed, as well as the very real threat that some unhinged moonbat leftist like Ted Kaczynski will light off a truck bomb outside their headquarters building.
The people who run television networks are just schlubs who go to work every day. They prance and preen about how courageous they are, how they "speak truth to power," but they only speak truth to power they know they're protected from by the First Amendment. At the slightest hint of any real retaliation, physical retaliation, they'll fold in a split second. And they'll hand out awards to themselves for their courage while doing it.
You’re right about Howard K. Smith; but he was the last of a type: educated by what happened when the appeasers controlled Britain in the thirties, he like Murrow opposed totalitarianism. Smith understood that a Republic ALWAYS had to be defended; and he knew America WAS a republic, not a pure democracy.
Today, we have the blow-dried class of ‘reporter’ who only knows that America is mostly evil, and that the collectivists in the old USSR were never given a fair hearing in the US media.
Sad but true.
Honestly, I can’t believe that anyone watches network news anymore, anyway. The person the writer described is Britt Hume.
CBS remained in third place throughout Dan Rather’s years as anchor, but could always hang their hat on the fact that they hired the guy who went against Nixon one-on-one when he was White House reporter.
Les Moonves could care less about good journalism, unless it’s linked to the entertainment division. That’s what you get with 60 Minutes on Sunday — the reporters are the stars, the little guy is brought out to showcase their anti-goverment or anti-conservative agenda -- with Bradley, Stahl, Wallace, etc. being the center of the piece.
I hadn't thought about it from your perspective, but you’re right. They don’t care about news ratings (but they do care about negative publicity that gets attached directly to Moonves, so she’ll be gone soon).
Just tell me what happened (da*mn it) leave the emotion for me.
Mike Wallace took a hilarious dig at her in an interview with his son, Fox’s Chris Wallace. Mike opined that Katie is doing “the Today show at 6:30.” In other words, feel-good, soft morning TV at night. Ouch!
==> “I dont want a woman to be delivering my serious news. Or sports, either.” <==
Time for “The Naked News” to go mainstream?
Is anyone else sick of ESPN's stupid Suzy Kolber or that annoying Bernstein chick on the NFL sidelines?
Katie is headed for The View!!
“Is anyone else sick of ESPN’s stupid Suzy Kolber or that annoying Bernstein chick on the NFL sidelines?”
Her husband died from colon cancer and she tried to promote awareness for testing to prevent the disease.
A little good in everybody......
I do not watch television (except for an occasional football game) and I do not read newspapers (except for some local stories and some sports content)
I get all my news from the Internet, starting with Free Republic. Basically, I use FR as a springboard to investigate other stories, and as a shortcut to help me frame issues.
While Free Republic is conservative, and to a lesser degree, Libertarian, the people who post here present a wide range of opinions on a given issue ranging from Moonbat (rare) to Liberal to Libertarian to VURWC types. Somewhat in the shape of a broad bell curve with very steep sides and a little tail off on each side, less steep and more tailed off on the Libertarian VURWC side.
I cannot bring myself to go to DU to read what the other side thinks...it is just too disturbing to me. (Plus, I always feel as if I have stumbled into some kind of porn site...)
Here is what I see as the bottom line:
1.) The Media IS biased.
The media IS biased, by their own admission on more than one occasion when caught in unexpected moments of frank candor. I have seen the bias shockingly demonstrated with my own eyes, most recently at the Gathering of Eagles in Washington DC on March 17th where I had my feet on the ground in the street, saw the way things WERE, then with everyone else, went home afterwards and made a point of watching the nature of the coverage on the networks.
2.) News is sensationalism.
They are into sensationalism, not news. They sell sensationalism packaged as unbiased news. They have to make money, and to do that, they have to sell to advertisers. To get watchers, they have to appal to their baser instincts. How many times have you watched the news, only to see someone like Katie Couric appear in front of you wearing the faux Clintonesque mask of grave concern saying in that fake, somewhat vaguely accented and out of breath (think PBS commentator) announcer state: “The next segment contains disturbing content that may not be suitable for children...please exercise discretion...” They appear for all the world to be what Don Henley describes in his song “Dirty Laundry”:
“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five
She can tell you bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
Its interesting when people die-”
3.) The visual media primarily elicits emotional rather than intellectual repsonses.
The visual form of news, by its very nature, is a terrible way to disseminate “news”, in my opinion. They say the pictures don’t lie, but they lie much worse and much more insidiously than the printed or spoken word does. The case in point, CBS might show a car bombing in Baghdad, and they would show a woman carrying the dead body of her mutilated three year-old child in a crushing, chaotic crowd while she wails hysterically “Why? Why?” much as ANY parent could be expected to. In the background the announcer’s voice intones (in that voice we have all become all to familiar with) “In the four years since the United States has occupied Iraq, thousands of civilians have been killed in car bombs such as this one due to lack of security by the occupying forces, sources say...” What one comes out of that with is a revulsion towards a death of an innocent child, overlaid with the image of poor US policy. Nowhere is there context, who was really responsible (the barbarians killing their own bretheren) and who the good guys are (Iraqis and US Personnel often working together to save and treat the wounded)
I make my living off the evening news Just give me something, something I can use People love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry
Well, I could've been an actor, but I wound up here I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry
We got the bubbleheaded bleach-blonde, comes on at 5 She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye It's interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry
Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet? You know the boys in the newsroom got a running bet Get the widow on the set, we need dirty laundry
You don't really need to find out what's goin' on You don't really want to know just how far it's gone Just leave well enough alone, keep your dirty laundry
Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie We love to cut you down to size, we love dirty laundry
We can do the innuendo, we can dance and sing When it's said and done, we haven't told you a thing We all know that crap is king, give us dirty laundry
Kick 'em when they're up,
kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em all around
Dirty Laundry ~ Don Henley
Who is this “Baba Wawa Couric” of whom you speak?
You made tremendously good points.
The older population that watches TV news more than the younger one is being bombarded with negative images from Iraq constantly.
The full picture of the situation is not there. People take in what they see and spend little or no time thinking about it.
The reaction of some people is emotional and not thought out as a result.
My first experience with war as selective images and emotional responses was the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
Even though I was seven years old the images seared my mind and although I could draw no big conclusions back then, it looked bad.
Tet destroyed North Vietnam’s war making capacity for three years, the time bombing was halted for the “peace talks.”
They were hurt badly but only our casualties were on TV.
Lyndon Johnson caved and turned to a “peace process.” All because of the images on TV and not the facts on the ground.
I haven’t see the Katie Couric parody like Gilda Radner’s “Baba Wawa.”
But Couric has been cited as a prima donna with her own personal staff etc. and an attitude that she is better. Her liberal bias credentials are out there for everyone to see but Barbara Walters could actually claim to have worked hard to break into a liberally biased media like Cronkite did.
Both of them have the reputation of being holier than thou among their colleagues (the drones of the newsroom) during their careers.
You sound like just a few years younger than me, but what you said about the Tet Offensive is a perfect illustration. I think we are on the same page.
On a related issue...have you ever read this speech given by Walter Cronkite? I have included it here, because it is a real eye-opener...
(NOTE: The BIGGEST eye opener is the unbelievable statement he makes: “...The differences among the American states then were as bitter as differences among nation-states in the world today...” This just blows me away. This is a man revered by the left...and he thinks the difference between a country that thinks it is okay to stuff its citizens into chipper-shredders and one that has issues with that is as “bitter” and on the same level as Delaware being concerned that Virginia is going to force its will on it because it is so much larger...it STILL shocks me to read this quote.)
WALTER CRONKITE PROMOTES DEMOCRATIC FEDERAL WORLD GOVERNMENT
(Given when he received W.F.A.’s Norman Cousins Global Governance Award on 19 October 1999)
I am greatly honored to receive this award for two reasons: first, I believe as Norman Cousins did that the first priority of humankind in this era is to establish an effective system of world law that will assure peace with justice among the peoples of the world; second, I feel sentimental about this award because half a century ago Norman offered me a job as spokesman and Washington lobbyist for the World Federalist organization, which was then in its infancy.
I chose instead to continue in the world of journalism. For many years, I did my best to report on the issues of the day in as objective a manner as possible. When I had my own strong opinions, as I often did, I tried not to communicate them to my audience. Now, however, my circumstances are different. I am in a position to speak my mind. And that is what I propose to do.
Those of us who are living today can influence the future of civilization. We can influence whether our planet will drift into chaos and violence, or whether through a monumental educational and political effort we will achieve a world of peace under a system of law where individual violators of that law are brought to justice.
For most of this fairly long life I have been an optimist harboring a belief that as our globe shrank, as our communication miracles brought us closer together, we would begin to appreciate the commonality of our universal desire to live in peace and that we would do something to satisfy that yearning of all peoples. Today I find it harder to cling to that hope. For how many thousands of years now have we humans been what we insist on calling “civilized”? And yet, in total contradiction, we also persist in the savage belief that we must occasionally, at least, settle our arguments by killing one another.
While we spend much of our time and a great deal of our treasure in preparing for war, we see no comparable effort to establish a lasting peace. Meanwhile, emphasizing the sloth in this regard, those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world government are called impractical dreamers. Those “impractical dreamers” are entitled to ask their critics, “what is so practical about war?”
It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace. To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith in the new order. But the American colonies did it once and brought forth one of the most nearly perfect unions the world has ever seen. The circumstances were vastly different, obviously. Yet just because the task appears forbiddingly hard, we should not shirk it. We cannot defer this responsibility to posterity. Democracy, civilization itself, is at stake. Within the next few years we must change the basic structure of our global community from the present anarchic system of war and ever more destructive weaponry to a new system governed by a democratic U.N. federation.
Let’s focus on a few specifics of what the leadership of the World Federalist movement believe must be done now to advance the rule of world law. For starters, we can draw on the wisdom of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The differences among the American states then were as bitter as differences among nation-states in the world today. In their almost miraculous insight, the Founders of our country invented ‘federalism,’ a concept that is rooted in the rights of the individual. Our federal system guarantees a maximum of freedom but provides it in a framework of law and justice. Our forefathers believed that the closer the laws are to the people, the better. Cities legislate on local matters; states make decisions on matters within their borders; and the national government deals with issues that transcend the states, such as interstate commerce and foreign relations. That is federalism.
Today we must develop federal structures on a global level. We need a system of enforceable world law —a democratic federal world government— to deal with world problems. What Alexander Hamilton wrote about the need for law among the 13 states applies today to the approximately 200 sovereignties in our global village: “To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.” Today the notion of unlimited national sovereignty means international anarchy. We must replace the anarchic law of force with a civilized force of law.
Ours will neither be a perfect world, nor a world without disagreement and occasional violence. But it will be a world where the vast majority of national leaders will consistently abide by the rule of world law, and those who won’t will be dealt with effectively and with due process by the structures of that same world law. We will never have a city without crime, but we would never want to live in a city that had no system of law to deal with criminals.
Let me make three suggestions for immediate action that would move us in a direction firmly in the American tradition of law and democracy.
1. Keep our promises: We helped create the U.N. and to develop the U.N. assessment formula. Americans overwhelmingly want us to pay our U.N. dues, with no crippling limitations. We owe it to the world. In fact, we owe it as well to our national self-esteem.
2. Ratify the Treaty to Ban Land Mines, the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most important, we should sign and ratify the Treaty for a permanent International Criminal Court. That Court will enable the world to hold individuals accountable for crimes against humanity.
3. Consider, after 55 years, the possibility of a more representative and democratic system of decision making at the U.N. This should include both revision of the veto in the Security Council and adoption of a weighted voting system for the General Assembly. The World Federalists have endorsed Richard Hudson’s Binding Triad proposal. George Soros, in “The Crisis of Global Capitalism,” has given serious attention to this concept which would be based upon not only one-nation-one-vote but also on population and contributions to the U.N. budget. Resolutions adopted by majorities in each of these areas would be binding, enforceable law. Within the powers given to it in the Charter, the U.N. could then deal with matters of reliable financing, a standing U.N. peace force, development, the environment and human rights.
Some of you may ask why the Senate is not ratifying these important treaties and why the Congress is not paying our U.N. dues. As with the American rejection of the League of Nations, our failure to live up to our obligations to the U.N. is led by a few willful senators who choose to pursue their narrow, selfish political objectives at the cost of our nation’s conscience. They pander to and are supported by the Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing. Their leader, Pat Robertson, has written that we should have a world government but only when the messiah arrives. Attempts for world order before that time are the work of the Devil! This small but well-organized group has intimidated both the Republican Party and the Clinton administration. It has attacked presidents since F.D.R. for supporting the U.N. Robertson explains that these presidents are the unwitting agents of Lucifer.
The only way we who believe in the vision of a democratic world federal government can effectively overcome this reactionary movement is to organize a strong educational counteroffensive stretching from the most publicly visible people in all fields to the humblest individuals in every community. That is the vision and program of the World Federalist Association. The strength of the World Federalist program would serve an important auxiliary purpose at this particular point in our history. There would be immediate diplomatic advantages if the world knew that this country was even beginning to explore the prospect of strengthening the U.N. We would appear before the peoples of the world as the champion of peace for all by the equitable sharing of power. This in sharp contrast to the growing concern that we intend to use our current dominant military power to enforce a sort of pax Americana.
Our country today is at a stage in our foreign policy similar to that crucial point in our nation’s early history when our Constitution was produced in Philadelphia. Let us hear the peal of a new international liberty bell that calls us all to the creation of a system of enforceable world law in which the universal desire for peace can place its hope and prayers. As Carl Van Doren has written, “History is now choosing the founders of the World Federation. Any person who can be among that number and fails to do so has lost the noblest opportunity of a lifetime.”
Quite a Cronkite speech idealizing world government without understanding it will only be possible in a human sense when totalitarian systems are eliminated (by force). Think terrorists, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela.......
That’s something Americans shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice lives for in a long war, although we will be fighting some in the future with China most likely.
By building a system of limited government here in the United States, something we are losing increasingly to bigger government at all levels, we would be a better example to the world of what the best system for them would be.
Cronkite speaks from his heart, sadly. I have a television guide from December 1951 (18 months after he started with CBS in Washington) where Cronkite idealizes the American and Soviet systems merging into one once the Soviets “build their system up” to ours, as he put it.
He’s been in a fantasy world although maybe all that reporting and anchoring (in 1951 he did shows local and national seven days a week) left him no time to think and analyze. He was trained to look at what he saw and write it up.
Maybe he was educated that way as well. Humanistic idealism has existed through all of history.
After the discussion I had with you, I re-read the speech, and in the context of what is going on, felt compelled to make a vanity post to discuss it at
I thought you might be interested in what others have to say about it. I know I am.
I liked it better when they just read the news. All I want is someone to narrate what is happening, not interpret it, except to clarify what footage may show. And I want someone who knows HOW to read. I recall forty years ago when I was in Switzerland and watched the news being well-read by a very pretty woman with a great voice. Couric can’t measure up to that standard.
I hear you. It is a sad day for TV journalism in Houston that I can turn the volume down and still get a feel for the story from the anchor's smirks and frowns.
The day I saw Hannah Storm on ESPN was the day I recognized an unmitigable, unstoppable, irrefutable death-spiral of our society...
Keith Olbermann is what I expected they would find when doing Perky Katie’s colonoscopy. It is obvious I was right
That probe seemed to put a smile on her face. Hmmmm, I wonder...
Very accurate. Thank you.
Thanks for saying so. It sometimes pains me that my wife can watch television and seemingly be unaffected by these things that cause me so much consternation, but...different strokes for different folks.
I'd pay money to avoid watching TV news if I had to.
I get your drift. It’s a topic that fascinates me in that a lot of people (older ones particularly) get their news this way and their hearts and minds are affected negatively by the big 3 shows.
These people vote more too and that matters.
I realize that ESPN is trying to appeal to women by having lesbian "sportscasters." But, in trying to appeal to women, they are alienating a large part of their male audience.
Its like adding a homosexual to "The View" in the attempt to increase male viewership.
You're right. That explains a lot about our political situation. Some folks would buy dead cats if TV told them to do so.