Couric to CBS? She should train her eye elsewhere


The story of Katie Couric’s future has been picked apart more than a dead horseshoe crab surrounded by a flock of seagulls.

However, what’s lost in the feeding frenzy is this: Couric shouldn’t leave NBC. Doing so would be a terrible mistake.

That’s not a knock on CBS. For Couric, anchoring the “Evening News” will be a bad move, even if she gets some “60 Minutes” work factored in.

Instead she should go the talk/interview show route.

As someone who has watched “Today” for a long time, it’s clear that while Couric is very good at a lot of things – and she has to be, to be at “Today” – the “CBS Evening News” isn’t a good fit.

Before you start wagging your finger, this has nothing to do with her being a woman headed toward a slot normally held by men. Elizabeth Vargas broke that mold already over at ABC.

Rather, it’s an assessment of her skills. She is not at her best sitting behind a desk reading a TelePromTer.

It’s easy to sympathize with Couric not wanting to host the “Today” show anymore. She’s been there for 15 years. Anyone who has been in the same job for a long period of time has felt the strain of repetition, and the desire to want to do something more challenging. (Memo to Boss: Anyone but me, of course.)

Sure, taking the CBS job would offer prestige, but little more. She’d have to share 22 minutes with the talented folks there and have little chance to spread her wings.

NBC can’t give her the anchor job but has a variety of platforms, including cable and broadcast, to showcase her work.

Rather than head for the tight confines of an evening newscast – one that has grown lately with the sturdy, respectable Bob Schieffer, but has been mired in third for years – Couric ought to hit up NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker for a talk/interview show.

Word is CBS is also readying a documentary unit for her at the network. But that would be in addition to the “Evening News.”

The talk/interview show could be a daytime vehicle, or it could air in prime-time. “Dateline” is long in the tooth, so NBC could easily give Couric the time.

It’s a format she can have built to her strengths. She can be serious, she can be goofy, she can do anything she wants.

OK, so Jane Pauley flunked in the daytime talk-show field. That doesn’t mean Couric would, too.

By the way, not everyone agrees with me on this concept.

“I can’t see how that would be an improvement,” said Andrew Tyndall, head of the Tyndall Report, which monitors newscasts. “In her heart of hearts, I think she wants to be a serious journalist. And, there’s no room for serious journalism in the ‘Oprah’ hour.”

Couric can be serious in a talk/interview show, and she could crank up the chase for the big interviews with Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer. And what better way to exploit them than on her own show?

Whatever she decides – and let’s hope it happens soon, so this madness over her future ends – she’d be best served not stuck behind the “CBS Evening News” anchor desk.