Couric Goes Under the Scope, Again

Thu, September 07, 2006

I’m certainly on a NYT jag lately. Well, we’ll call it a gag, today.

Because yesterday they jettisoned us back, waaaay back, we’re talking pre-Title IX back, in Alessandra Stanley’s review of the new CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Rather than focusing on content and competence, Stanley quickly wanders into appearance. To regard the foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, as “unusually pretty” and refer to her “arresting screen presence.” C’mon.  And of course Couric’s outfit got some ink. Now, I haven’t gone back and looked at the reviews after Brokaw’s and Jennings’ and Rather’s premiers, but I doubt they bothered with suit-and-tie critiques.

My A.D. colleagues also said:
“The way she subtly compared the two, it’s like she set up a silent catfight between Logan and Couric,” says Naomi.
“The sexist double standard is both acknowledged and employed in the same article,” argued Rena.

Since Jeannie, er, my Mom, is a CBS vet, I asked her if she had any insight…

Mom—What’d you think?

She doubled the ratings.

I didn’t see the show but I can say that the half-hour nightly newscasts of all three networks are dying (as are most of their viewers whose average ages is only slightly south of 60). Couric seems to have brought in some younger viewers and gave them a taste of what they want: a picture of Tom Cruise and whatsherface’s baby girl with the big hair?

But she doubled the ratings.

If you take out commercials, the evening news has about 22 minutes and 30 seconds to tell Americans what they need to know. Anything else is a waste of very expensive (especially counting Couric’s $15 mil paycheck) time. I didn’t see the review you refer to—and I do not think it is a reviewer’s role to do fashion and beauty commentary. But that’s a lot of what younger viewers have been manipulated to expect.

To paraphrase another reviewer: “Katie Couric can turn a frown upside down like nobody else.”

And she doubled the ratings.—Jeannie

So that’s our water cooler talk from Diva HQ for today.

(P.S. she wore a white blazer over a black sheath dress. Egads—white after Labor Day!)

fuel the discussion — post your comments »

Right on.  Reading these comments reminded me of a conversation me and my Mom had as we watched the reaction to Couric’s new show.  The emphasis on how she dressed, and comparing her to another, younger, broadcaster was both absurd and telling, I thought, about both what women still deal with, and what is happening to nightly news.  There shift, I think, from nightly news shows as they struggle to recover and get some Anderson Cooper vibe - the idea of a younger, cooler broadcaster.  Which for women means even more (groan) emphasis on apperance.

by Jennifer Hile on Tue, September 19, 2006 at 2:38 pm PDT

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