Photo Credit: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic
After weeks of speculation, a CBS executive has confirmed that Katie Couric will be leaving her gig as anchor of the CBS Evening News. That's despite David Letterman's efforts two weeks ago to convince her to stay. During Couric's appearance on his show, Letterman implored her not to ditch the network they both work for. "Oh, for heaven's sakes, you don't want that to happen, do you?!...The anchor chair isn't a temp gig."
Couric squirmed a little, then replied: "Five years isn't too temporary, though."
And it hasn't been an easy half-decade, either. Despite some highlights -- such as the attention she drew for her scarily enlightening interview with Sarah Palin in 2008 -- Couric's tenure as the first woman to solely anchor a network TV evening newscast hasn't exactly been an unqualified success. Despite drawing a reported $15-million-a-year salary and winning the Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast in 2008 and 2009, Couric wasn't able to pull CBS' evening news broadcast out of third place, where it has languished behind those anchored by NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Diane Sawyer.
While Couric's end date has not yet been set, her contract with CBS runs out on June 4. Still, the network isn't giving up hope that Katie might stick around. "We're having ongoing discussions with Katie Couric," a CBS News spokeswoman told the Associated Press. And yet discussions are already underway to determine Couric's replacement, with Russ Mitchell, Scott Pelley and Harry Smith topping the list.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Couric doesn't explicitly confirm her CBS Evening News exit, but she does admit to having regrets about her stint with the show. "In retrospect I would have given people what they were used to, a traditional newscast," she says. "And then as they got to know me and got more comfortable, then I would've started toying with the format and trying new things. I think we were overly ambitious. We probably would have been better off playing it a little safer."
So what's next for the newswoman assuming she does indeed say goodnight to CBS Evening News? New York's Daily News reports that Katie is looking to launch a syndicated daily talk show in 2012, a move that would be a natural fit for Couric. Couric is one of those rare people who's good at both reporting the hard news and playfully bantering with celebs. She clearly enjoys the light-hearted side of her job.
Though Couric has long chafed against the adjective "perky," it sticks with her -- because she is perky, which is certainly helpful when you're sitting on a couch with a celebrity, trying to coax out a good interview. And, as Couric points out to The New York Times, being called "perky" is "better than 'bitchy.'"