Patterico's Pontifications

4/5/2006

OVER HER HEAD

Filed under: General — Evan Maxwell @ 8:13 am



Posted by Guest Blogger Evan Maxwell

It ain’t a new insight, not by a far sight, but add me to the list of scribblers suggesting that the Katie Couric news suggests that television news has just jumped the shark.

Don’t blame Ms. Couric. She is only exploiting the opening that has been given her. She is only guilty of overreaching, which is the most common sin in the media world, maybe in the human species.

No, blame the decision makers at the network hiring her away. The program they develop for their nightly news slot will have to be tailored for her talents, such as they are. But whatever goes out on the air will be as far from network nightly news as Oprah is from Jim Lehrer. And I am willing to bet that the show will appeal to the same anxious, hypochondriacal audience that laps up the thin gruel of Today.

Saying that, I realize the Couric News may well be be a vast TELEVISION success, just as Oprah is. Just don’t expect much substantive content from it. No policy wonks will appear and the talking heads will tear up regularly over injustice, untreated malady and unprosecuted child abuse.

I didn’t know that sharks could swim in such shallow waters.

Posted by Guest Blogger Evan Maxwell, who has had it up to his chin with shallow lightweights.

32 Responses to “OVER HER HEAD”

  1. 60 Minutes still gets lots of viewers. But I don’t understand why anyone watches the Evening News, which is 3 hours old on the west coast. There is a big market for a HDTV, 24/7 commercial free news channel. Charge $2/month and put Katie on there. The current show where they dribble tiny newsbits over the course of 30 minutes, surrounded by Viagra, adult diapers, and diahhrea medicine ads, is just intolerable.

    Wesson (c20d28)

  2. I am confused, will her show be fluff because the host is a she or fluff because she has never done real news? You say “he is only guilty of overreaching…” and that “The program they develop for their nightly news slot will have to be tailored for her talents, such as they are.” So what you are say is that she cannot do ‘real’ news because she is not bitchy or masculine enough, right?
    There are two things amiss in your argument: 1) if Couric was a bitch she would do ‘real’ news but not be nice enough to get a job and 2) was the psychic upgrade free ’cause I didn’t know that anything about the shows content was decided.

    Mad Hatty (de5fcb)

  3. I thought Patterico said it quite clearly. Katie Couric is and always has been a lightweight. Her interviews tend to fluff and frequently eschew the tough questions for the politically correct audience pleasers. ‘Today’ is, after all, mostly entertainment with a smattering of content. But if you think otherwise, good for you.

    I don’t hold out high hopes for CBS Evening News under her banner, but then, I don’t hold out much hope for CBS News on any account.

    Dave in W-S (2a57fc)

  4. Aagh. Did I say Patterico? I should have said Evan..

    Dave in W-S (2a57fc)

  5. …the Katie Couric news suggests that television news has just jumped the shark.

    I actually think that happened years ago, when FOX started pretending to offer a “fair and balanced” perspective.

    Tom (fefa50)

  6. No Tom — it happened when Uncle Walter told us that the Vietcong had achieved a major military victory in its 1968 Tet offensive.

    McGehee (5664e1)

  7. Well, it still seems to me that the utter triumph of being able to get a well-oiled mouthpiece of Republican propaganda to pass as a “major network” ought to trump one reporter’s take on the Vietnam War, however influential at the time (though I wasn’t around, so maybe I’m missing the bigger picture).

    Tom (fefa50)

  8. The Peter Principal at work!

    Paul Albers (7494b1)

  9. I disagree. Katie will rise or fall on the quality of her producers, and I doubt that CBS is going to have a mass exodus of hard-news types because her butt is in the chair. She’ll have more oversight, which is good. If Dan had had more minders and relied less on Mary Mapes, he’d still have the gig. Katie hasn’t succeeded this long by being stupid. And when was the last time you saw a nightly news anchor do a hard-hitting interview? That’s right–20 years ago.
    60 Minutes gets a lot of viewers, but the wrong kind–old people. Yahoo!’s recent deal with them is wrongheaded–young people aren’t going to watch those old coots just because the show is on a different box.

    KateCoe (80d3f8)

  10. A new experience for me, the near-instant feedback loop. A writer could get lost in it. But I would add two specific thoughts: I agree that network news isn’t what it used to be, back when I was a boy. Neither are newspapers. There has been a general massification, to the detriment of content.

    Second, my thoughts are only tangentially gender-related. I think that the content of daytime television is clearly and deliberately pitched at what the network execs take to be their principal audience of the moment, female and pretty middle-brow. The outcome is that subject matter is skewed toward what the mostly male execs believe are the concerns of middle-America women. Oprah and Katie unconsciously express the condescension that results.

    Or maybe they are spot-on. I think women are smarter than that but maybe the mass of women just like being condescended to.

    Evan Maxwell

    Evan Maxwell (2bdaa9)

  11. KateCoe says, “And when was the last time you saw a nightly news anchor do a hard-hitting interview?”

    If hard-hitting interviews are your cup of tea, tune into The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News. Bill doesn’t do softball.

    Also, there’s no need to worry about “…a mass exodus of hard-news types…” from CBS just because Couric is the new news reader. There aren’t any hard-news types left at CBS, or any hard-news for that matter. That’s why The Dan had to stoop to Mapesbelieve. (HT to Dana)

    And, BTW, what’s up with your put-downs of old people? The “old coots” among us have earned their place at the table, and we owe them some respect and consideration.

    You’re free to watch whatever spins your wheels, but go easy on the age discrimination, it’s wrong, and makes you look like an ungrateful young snit, lacking in both manners and discretion.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  12. C’mon. First we lost free windshield wipings with a fill up of gas at .25 a gallon. Then the wife had to work. airlines cancelled meals, squeezed the seats and hired pitbulls who are “primarily there for your safety.” Now this: CBS news, which at least had PETENSIONS to being a “hard news” station, skips decent and credible Sheiffer and hires the soccer mom of broadcasting. Laugh at me if you must, but despite all his tight-lipped ineptitude, patent partisianship and tedious reporting, I think –its true–I now miss Dan Rather.

    frank brebbin (bb7b00)

  13. I think it’s a great move. CBS News had long ago given up any pretense of objectivity and non-bias, and they’ve just hired someone who will underscore that sad fact; this was honesty in hiring!

    Mr Brebbin, you won’t need to miss Mr Rather: you’ll get exactly the same thing, just as you described it, from Mrs Couric.

    Of course, Today really jumped in the ratings thanks to the lovely Mrs Couric’s legs; do you think that CBS will redesign the set to display those gams to the audience?

    Dana (dd8e7e)

  14. There’s a lot of talk re’ Katie Couric’s new job and whether it’s important.It may be important for gender equity buffs,but even theere it’s marginal.Look,our Sec’y of State is a women.No one doubts Dr. Rice has intellectual qualities that dwarf Ms.Courics.That’s advncement.
    CBS is doing this to attract viewers.They’ve made a calculation it will make them money.Will it?
    I find it doubtful.My reasoning is she reads the news.And it is highly publicized how much she’s making to read the news.In a sense.she’s become like a high priced athlete who will hear catcalls from the stands for an error.Even if she is flawless,she’s just reading the news for around 300K/week.That’s a tough row to hoe.One has to wonder why she’s doing this.But the hours of a morning show are brutal.(Ht tip to my sister-in law.)And I remember a Johnny Carson quote about celebrities.”They’re rich.so they think they should be important.”

    Lincoln (1a9ed6)

  15. Black Jack–I’m old, you whippersnapper, and I’ll call someone a coot if I like. Don’t spew your PC slime all over my space shoes.

    The nightly news and the 60 Minutes audience is too old, according to ADVERTISERS. It’s money, not ageism. The demographic for nightly news is the least attractive–that’s why the ads are for laxatives, and the rates are pretty low.

    And Bill O’Reilly’s performance pieces are amusing, but they’re not interviews. I even get a kick out of them. He’s not a news anchor, he’s an opinion guy.

    KateCoe (627b7b)

  16. Of course Self-Important Dan didn’t know the frequency and practically propelled Bush I into the White House with his petulant interview. The Dan/Mapes event had me in stitches. But his hilarious pomposity and his poorly submerged tension was the devil you know. And he had been a reporter–sort of. Now there’ll be something demeaning about watching “real reporters “reporting” to the Chirpy-Puffball brought in from the outside. Like doctors reporting to the non-MD administrator who has a BA in PR. I wouldn’t feel that way with Liz Vargas. Oh well.

    frank brebbin (bb7b00)

  17. The networks obviously believe that there is profit in news, given that they have what are purported to be news shows in prime time. And the success of Fox gives hope to CNN and MSNBC.

    But the evening news shows are dying. Once upon a time, they were the only thing out there, and people had three channels from which to choose; those days are long gone, and that’s why, as has been noted above, the audience for the nightly network newscasts is, to use the Jackster’s phrase, composed of “old coots.”

    Couple this with the fact that newspapers are losing circulation as well, and the real picture emerges: people now have the option to “consume” news on their own schedules, via the twenty-four hour news channels and the internet, and they are doing so, in greater numbers, every day.

    I have no idea whether the perky Mrs Couric will boost CBS’ ratings vis a vis NBC and ABC, but, in the end, it doesn’t matter; it’s simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Dana (71415b)

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