CBS's $15-million-a-year contract with Katie Couric—arguably the Rodney Dangerfield of the current crop of news anchors—expires June 4. So naturally the speculation that she'll be giving up her post is making a comeback (we feel like we've been kicking the tires of this story for ages now). The AP is reporting today that, according to a network executive, Couric will be leaving the anchor desk when her contract is up.
Couric's run in the anchor seat has been an issue for the network pretty much since her first night in September 2006. Despite an initial bout of public interest (and a few high profile catches like her infamous Sarah Palin interview) the newscast has been stuck in third place in the ratings. And the fact that ABC has put Diane Sawyer in as the anchor at ABC World News Tonight means that CBS doesn't even have the bragging rights of having the only female anchor on national broadcast news anymore.
Asked for official comment about the possibility of Couric departing CBS a CBS News spokesperson told the AP: "We're having ongoing discussions with Katie Couric. We have no announcements to make at this time. Until we do, we will continue to decline comment on rumor or speculation." A rep fro Couric, who was on vacation last week, only said "Ditto."
So if Couric leaves, who takes over the Evening News? The AP lists Russ Mitchell, Scott Pelley and Harry Smith as internal candidates but also says that CBS News will likely look outside of the division as well. We wonder if people will push for CBS to poach Jon Stewart from former corporate sibling Viacom (something which has been pitched before!). Certainly the replacement will not be making the same big bucks that Couric has. And where does Couric go? There has been speculation for some time that she might be interested in a syndicated talk show to try and fill the void soon to be left by Oprah—something which could allow her to stay affiliated with CBS. We doubt she wants to go back to mornings, as much as we're sure the Eye would love to put her there.
Meanwhile, we have to be honest, we haven't checked out Couric's newscast in awhile—have you? And, related, does anyone still care about who anchors the evening news?