Katie Couric Candidate to Replace Rather?
KATIE POPS UP ON LIST TO TAKE DAN’S CHAIR (New York Post)
CBS has a new name on top of its list of poten tial replacement for Dan Rather Ã¢€” Katie Couric. According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, CBS wants to “land a superstar to take over” for Rather and the “Today” show diva is its top choice. Couric has just 18 months to go on her $15-million a year contract with NBC, the weekly reports in its edition out today. “Virtually everyone in the news pantheon who’s younger than 60 is tied up even longer than Couric or simply doesn’t want the gig,” the magazine reports.
Rather has said he will retire in March. CBS would likely name someone to take over the job on an interim basis Ã¢€” then make way for Katie when she becomes free in 2006. “The Early Show” co-host Harry Smith, “Face the Nation” moderator Bob Scheiffer or “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley are among those mentioned as possible placeholders.
Couric could command a salary of $20 million a year or more, the magazine reports. Only David Letterman, who earns about $31 million a year from CBS, and Jay Leno, who’s most recent deal pays him $27 million from NBC, would be paid more on network TV.
Couric’s agent, Alan Berger, told the magazine “there’s nothing to talk about” right now. But reports that Katie could end up as the signature figure of CBS News are sure to send shock waves through the TV world. CBS could kill two birds with one stone by stealing Couric. It would not only gain one of TV’s few remaining superstar reporters, but would take her off the ratings-topping “Today” show.
Couric is attractive and can read–which pretty much sums up the qualifications for the job. But filling the anchor chair with a morning chat host would signal the end of the nightly network news as a serious player in the news game. Further, replacing Rather with one of the few people on network television viewed to be even more of a partisan Democrat would be foolish.
Update (1206): Denise notes that Tom Brokaw went from “Today” to anchor “NBC Nightly News,” a fact I’d forgotten. While Couric’s stint on the show has been twice as long and her prior background less “hard news,” their bios are roughly comparable. I must admit, though, to having a rough time taking Couric seriously as a journalist.