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Couric Finally Debuts: Let the Media Mugging Begin



Couricdebutgraphic2 She looked a little nervous at times -- surprising, since she's interviewed everyone from Geroge W. Bush to O.J. Simpson -- but Katie Couric offered a mostly slick, mostly seamless debut newscast just a few hours ago. I would have blogged about it sooner, but I had to pull something together for tomrrow's newspaper.

Already, the TVNewser blog has a lot of detailed info about Couric's debut both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. But there were a few things I couldn't fit into the St. Pete Times piece.

Chung3 Former CBS anchor Connie Chung was nice enough to return my call, fresh from a small party held for Couric by close friends and family at a New York hotel just after the broadcast.

"I thought she was smooth confident, friendly. She looked like she had been doing the CBS Evening News for 25 years."

ME: Did you think the newscast was a little soft?

Chung: "The news dictates the content. It’s hard to produce her ideal Chung program from the first night. I’m so hoping critics and viewers would give her as much time as they have given other evening news anchors and judge her broadcast accordingly. On any other night, there probably would have been more stories. (But) particularly, after labor day weekend,there wasn't a lot going on.”

ME: One other viewer I spoke to -- a woman -- said she felt the broadcast was female-oriented.

Chung: “I certainly didn’t think it was female-oriented. That would be the last thing I would think. The Suri Cruise shot (a photo of a Vanity Fair cover featuring the first public photos of Tom Cruise and his new baby) might not have been in typical newscasts – but their last story (a feature on a guy who works to create portraits of orphans in third world countries) was Charles Kuralt-ish. That’s really not unusual.”

Some things I found unusual:

-- No journalists of color appeared anywhere in the newscast (hope that's just a momentary oversight!)

-- Couric's "notebook" entry on the new blog Tuesday, was a really fluffy note on how Labor Day and fall reminds her of new beginnings. Arg.

Morgan_spurlock -- I bet conservatives who already suspect Couric of liberal bias will be incensed that her first two guests were a columnist from the New York Times and the famously anti-corporate documentarian Morgan Spurlock (will news that Rush Limbaugh will appear Thursday help at all?

-- Rivals NBC and ABC countered with their heavy hitters. ABC opened with a Brian Ross scoop that Pakistan had entered into a deal with the Taliban to lay off Osama bin Laden and withdraw their forces from the area where he is thought to be hiding. ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos also made an appearance. NBC had David Gregory and Meet the Press host Tim Russert talking politics.

-- Morgan Spurlock's actual commentary -- "Today's news has become just like professional wrestling...We're not a nation divided at all, we're just a country buying into the smackdown hype" -- only served to show how difficult 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney's job is, after all.

-- CBS' Internet simulcast ran several seconds behind the actual Tomcruisekatiesmilebroadcast,  and seemed to cut out purposefully when the Vanity Fair cover was shown on air. Take that, you blogosphere thieves!


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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