When Katie first left the Today show to anchor the CBS Evening News in 2006, ratings began a steady decline. Katie was blamed, and it really looked like she was going to be fired in the spring of 2008. Now, however, she is more popular than ever, and that is thanks (at least in part) to her interview with Ms. Palin.
Governor Palin has accused Katie of "exploiting" her, but in last week's LA TImes Couric responded to this claim: "I felt bad about that, because I have been very circumspect about the whole thing. So I don't really understand what she meant." Even though we think Sarah Palin is full of shit, there is no denying that Couric's ratings went up because of the interview. During the last five weeks, her program has been up 7%, and during the inauguration week, Katie was hard at work interviewing Michelle Obama and covering the inauguration ceremonies.
Couric also has some new projects in the works. She has teamed up with Susan Zirinsky, CBS news producer, for several different shows. In an article that somewhat condescendingly begins: "How about a big hand for the little lady?", today's The Washington Post discusses Couric's most recent "exclusive" project. Last night, Couric headed up a special edition of the "CBS Evening News," where she was "very much the activist-anchor":
Couric reported Part 1 of an "exclusive" shocker series about domestic violence committed against spouses and girlfriends by troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. She gave this troubling story not "a woman's touch" but the attention of a good reporter. The segment was labeled "Katie Couric Investigates" to help raise her profile even higher.
Although The Washington Post speculates on the role of the "woman's touch," writer Tom Shales makes it clear that Couric is such a benevolent presence because of "16 years of goodwill" and her role as "Americas sweetheart" (which, one could argue, is by definition a woman's position- one that would certainly contribute to the myth of a "woman's touch").
Weirdly enough, Couric is also going to be a big part of the Grammy Awards this year. She is to host an hour-long prime-time special featuring "freestylin' interviews" with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Lil Wayne, airing February 4th. In an interview with the Observer Zirinsky explains her new found appreciation for the self-proclaimed feminist anchor: "She's a powerhouse. The more venues we can have her on, letting Katie be Katie, the better it plays for us." Although the whole discussion of a "woman's touch" is somewhat irksome, it is great to see a network let Katie be Katie, and celebrate her hard-won position among what is typically a bit of a boy's club. Couric has shown America that she can be a serious reporter, and we will now see whether she can hold her own with Lil Wayne. Our money's on Katie.
Good News, at Last [Washington Post]
A Newswoman's Journey to the Anchor Seat [Washington Post]
Not-So-Suddenly Susan! [The New York Observer]
CBS Puts Its Prime Time in the Service of Couric [New York Times]
Katie Couric in no hurry for change [LA Times]
Related: Katie Couric Flies Her Feminist Flag