Katie Couric Candidate to Replace Rather?


Photo: Today Show host Katie Couric is reported to be CBS' top choice to replace Dan RatherCBS has a new name on top of its list of poten tial replacement for Dan Rather — 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 — 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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. denise says:

    “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.”

    Tom Brokaw went from Today Show to nightly news anchor.

  2. bryan says:

    The difference between Tom Brokaw and Katie Couris is the difference between the grand canyon and the bar ditch in my parent’s front yard.

  3. McGehee says:

    Do they really need to replace Rather? Why not just re-broadcast “The Daily Show” in his place?

  4. jen says:

    Couric got the NBC gig after years as a local journo here in the DC area (channel 4, WRC). She started out as a beat TV reporter, so she’s got those chops. Although your point about her perceived bias is more pertinent in light of Rather’s clouded departure.

  5. Marc says:

    “one of TV’s few remaining superstar reporters.”

    Shouldn’t that read “superatar talking head?”
    Judgeing by some of her interviews done during the campaign season CBS can do a lot better.

  6. Maggie says:

    Have any of you watched this giggling idiot lately? She’s way too “Hollywood” for a serious anchor desk. During an interview with Tom Cruise, she starts dancing around with him. The woman is a mental midget. We gave up watching the opening/closing ceremonies of the Olympics because we couldn’t decide who made us sicker Couric or Costas – “Dumb and Dumber.”

    Wait, Dean as chair DNC…Couric as chair CBS.

    OMG, Republicans will win in 2008.

  7. Crank says:

    The good news would be the end of Couric doing daily interviews . . . I stand by my own recommendation for the job.

  8. Spear Shaker says:

    too much jaw and not enough brain matter. . . on second thought, just the right qualities. . . MORE: