September 5, 2006

Okay, I'm watching the Katie Couric show.

It's so annoying to feel forced into it! She's standing up and wearing a weird white jacket buttoned conspicuously at the waist as if to argue with those who said she'd been photoshopped into semi-svelteness. Now, she's sitting down, but in kind of a half standing position in front of a low desk, to give us more of a view of her torso. She's got a special white microphone to blend in with that white lapel. The first few stories are military, as if they need to drive it home that a woman can cover the manly topics.

Now she's interviewing Tom Friedman, who seems to really be trying to help by speaking extra quickly and smiling, beaming at Katie. They've got two armchairs angled together, with just enough room for Katie's bare, sinewy crossed legs.

The teaser going into the break is about gas prices, and we see the image of a gas pump nozzle, slowly rising, rather lewdly, I have to say, as if CBS felt the need to provide -- albeit symbolically -- the missing phallus.

After the break, there's an aggressively edited segment on oil. Lots of color and graphics and moving cameras and Shell logos gliding through space and guys yammering about hurricanes and whatnot.

Next, there's a segment called "freeSpeech." Not "free speech" or "Free Speech" or "freespeech" or Freespeech." "freeSpeech." Get it right. And it's Morgan Spurlock, fast talking, wearing a purple striped shirt and a purple paisley tie, and he's saying civil discourse, it's important. Okay, Mr. Spurlock, if you could, please don't wear that shirt and tie again.

Now the show veers into the female territory we were so worried about. That "freeSpeech" thing seemed to be the bridge. They're showing the Vanity Fair cover with the photo of the spawn of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. The baby's name is Suri, and Katie -- Couric -- does the pun "Yes, sirree."

After the break, Couric introduces a "picture perfect idea" that combines travel scenery, kids -- orphans! -- and art. You have got to be kidding me. The artist is from Madison, Wisconsin, so I should be soft on this, but I'm not. Wait, this guy doesn't paint the portraits for the orphans. He gets American school kids to paint pictures of photographs of orphans. We're told the painters form a real connection as they stare at the photos, as is necessary in order to do the paintings. We're informed that staring into the eyes has a very special effect. What glop! And the privileged painter and the orphan paintee sometimes even become penpals. Arrgggghhhhh... I'm in pain from this one.

Now, Katie tells us coyly that she just can't figure out what her sign-off line should be. She shows clips of various real and fictional newsguys signing off and then tries to enlist us in the fun of suggesting sign-off lines. "Log on to our website," she says. Log on. When you go to a website, are you "logging on"? See, I'm ready to be irked by anything! Well, let's go over there -- log on over there -- and see whether people are suggesting insulting sign-offs, which is what I would expect, which is one reason it's such a bad idea.

But why did they think it was a good idea? It's like a schoolteacher's "hands-on" assignment. Ooh, she wants to include us. It's so feminine to want everyone to feel included. But how about having an identity instead of asking us to supply one or offering to please us with whatever we want? You couldn't even write a sign-off line or, more aptly, you had to use the sign-off gimmick to make it seem as though this is some new interactive version of the news? What a grand step forward for women!

Checking the website, I see the suggestions aren't openly displayed, and you've got to provide lots of info to make the suggestion. So there won't be any fun and games there.

IN THE COMMENTS: Among other things, readers are suggesting sign-off lines. My favorite, by johnstodderinexile, is "This is Katie Couric, and I can't wait to read what you blogged about me."


hdhouse said...

I'm watching and its pretty damn good....good enough that I'll advise my clients that it is a worthwhile advertising environment.

I know that CBS and KC are like Germany in the 30s to a lot of you but you have to realize how difficult that much work it is and how much talent it takes to pull it off...

It ain't easy.

Revenant said...

I know that CBS and KC are like Germany in the 30s to a lot of you but you have to realize how difficult that is

Perhaps. But since few people use the Labor Theory of Value to determine the worth of a nightly newscast, it really doesn't matter how difficult it is. Hard work isn't admirable -- good work is.

Brent said...

Mottos considered at CBS:

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric - for those with too much time on their hands

Brent said...

Mottos considered at CBS:

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric - we do the thinking so you don't have to!

Brent said...

Mottos considered at CBS:

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric - because we had to do something with all this news equipment!

Brent said...

Mottos considered at CBS:

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric - for the . . . oh, even we don't believe we're doing anything that matters anymore!

Brent said...


"That's the world in news tonight. I'm Katie Couric, and I'm going drinking!"

XWL said...

Sign-off suggestion . . .

"Perky!, It's not a four letter word."

David said...

Is anyone else bothered by Katie's smoker's voice?

KCFleming said...

Possible sign-off (and rip-off):
CBS ...Fuk YEAH!

My sign-off suggestion (culled from failed dating attempts in high school):
"Well, OK. That's all then, I guess. Bye."

But hell, Katy, why not just bring back
for a sign-off? Dan's probably not going to be needing it much anymore.

Bad Penny said...

Morgan Spurlock is on the CBS evening news?? How long until they had the astrology forecast and the Consipiracy Theory Corner segments? Yeesh.

Joel said...

I think her best sign-off line would be Emily Litella's "Never mind."

altoids1306 said...

All I can say is the Couric gimmick seems to be working. When I got back from work, roommate's girlfriend was watching it. Saw the last part of it, it seemed pretty good. Liberal slant aside, they were trying to run the broadcast with a deliberate casualness.

My guess is the novelty will wear off, might snare some Today viewers to the CBS evening news, and that's about it.

Morgan Spurlock is on the CBS evening news??

Hey, it's freeSpeech!

Eugene said...

Too much mascara and eye shadow (why do some women insist on turning their eye sockets into black pits?), and she's got to watch the head-bobbing. I know it's unnatural, but given the tight camerawork on single-anchor evening newscasts, her nodding at everything she said as she said it made this viewer seasick. That cloying tone of voice is bad enough.

Joan said...

Oh, Ann, that was priceless! I can just see you nearly writhing in agony as you watched this trainwreck of a supposed newscast.

Thank you for your insightful snark.

hdhouse said...

ok you chuckleheads...where do you get your news? o'reilly? greta? certainly not sean? rush? the convicts (north et al)?

where do you get it then? frankly it was pretty good and when you decry it, remember that 15+ million just got it from cbs alone and it would be intellectually honest to tune in just to see what is what.

but what precisely is the alternative? tell me. inquiring minds want to know....ohgod..the enquirer! that's it. that and entertainment tonight...ohmygod...doomed..doomed i say!

Ann Althouse said...

hdhouse said "ok you chuckleheads...where do you get your news?"

I read the NYT -- home delivered -- every day, as I have for decades.

Jeff Faria said...

"It's so annoying to feel forced into it!"

Who forced you to watch Katie? Was it that Reynolds guy? Bastard.

buddy larsen said...

...fenrisulven's places plus WSJ and the newsmag's websites (Time still comes as paper, I'm weak). Tell me, hdhouse, when you last watched Brit Hume, Neil Cavoto, Brian Wilson, or Chris Matthews conduct a news show?

buddy larsen said...

"Cavuto", not Cavoto.

Ann, good comic piece, the half tongue-in-cheek slant is perfect for the topic.

Revenant said...

where do you get your news?

From print and online sources. Broadcast news is good for nothing beyond entertainment value, and frankly its a show I've already seen before. Real information sources have references, or better yet hyperlinks.

Reliapundit said...



tiggeril said...

I was able to slog through until the painter part at which point I fled to the Food Network.

Alton Brown soothes the soul.

MadisonMan said...

Gas prices are falling, yes, but an image of a nozzle deflating would be too emasculating for American Maledom.

Ann, a great recap of the news show -- are you going to do every single episode, just like American Idol?

Unknown said...

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but this post and the earlier one about not wanting to even post about not watching seem, well, catty.

She is a perfectly likable person. If the evening news is not for serious news junkies, as seems to be the great majority opinion here, then what is the grand objection to Ms. Couric as anchor?

Brian O'Connell said...

ok you chuckleheads...where do you get your news? o'reilly? greta? certainly not sean? rush? the convicts (north et al)?

It hurts my back to be that condescending- but I'm getting old.

condescending (adj.)
1. To descend to the level of one considered inferior; lower oneself.
2. To deal with people in a patronizingly superior manner.

Brent said...

wisjoe said:

She is a perfectly likable person. If the evening news is not for serious news junkies, as seems to be the great majority opinion here, then what is the grand objection to Ms. Couric as anchor?

Personally, I don't watch the evening newscasts - they are dinosaurs to me. But the big objection of many of us to Katie, wherever she works, is that she is knee-jerk left-wing and an unapologetic anti-Christian bigot.

Pat Patterson said...

Another motto possibility;

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric because Arnold Zenker is not available.

ter0 said...

CBS Doorman: "Good afternoon, Ms. Couric."


CBS Doorman: "Sure thing, Ms. Couric."

Unknown said...

Proposed sign off:

"Women and children first."

hdhouse said...

Seven Machos said...
However, and this is the kind of chutzpah that I admire, he thinks the conservatives here are a bunch of morons.

Know. Not think. Know.

You are indeed a humble person with ever so much to be humble about.

Ann Althouse said...

wisjoe said: "She is a perfectly likable person. If the evening news is not for serious news junkies, as seems to be the great majority opinion here, then what is the grand objection to Ms. Couric as anchor?"

I'm reacting -- obviously -- to the hype. They made a big deal about the first woman solo network news anchor, so I felt compelled ot check it out. I didn't expect the network news to be good. I haven't watched it for years, but I was interested to see how they'd work the woman angle. It's not really anything against her personally, but against the way networks do things and the the attitude they have about women. It's absolutely appropriate to react to that. What little there is in my post about they way she looks is about the way they presented the female body to us, not about her looks. If I was going to be catty, I would have made remarks about her skin and hair and so forth. (Okay, I did call her legs sinewy. It looked like she wasn't wearing stockings. I though that was not right.)

reader_iam said...

Humor is the new gravitas.

(FTR: Not a Couric fan here, but that's longstanding.)

JohnF said...

Sign off:

Remember, there's no "I" in Katie. Oh. Never mind.

Bongo Journalist said...

I'm watching and its pretty damn good....good enough that I'll advise my clients that it is a worthwhile advertising environment.

You wont have "clients" long with that kind of advice.

john(classic) said...

When I want propaganda masquerading as journalism, I tend to pick the National Enquirer over CBS/ABC/NBC/CNN. At least their "reporters" are more fun...

I am still waiting to find out what the heck happened to the Russian sub in Lake Michigan. Wife keeps telling me to "put that down" when I pick it up in the grocery line.

Suppose Katie will let us know?

amba said...

For a sign-off? She could belt out "Tomorrow," fom "Annie."

buddy larsen said...

"You are indeed a humble person with ever so much to be humble about."

--should be, "ever so much about which to be humble."

Unknown said...


Not intending to be contrarian, but your first paragraph on her show is primarily about what she is wearing and how she is positioning herself. The next paragraph remarks about her apparently sensual interview with Tom Friedman and her bare, sinewy legs. Next, we have a reference to a missing phallus.

To be fair, you seem to have a reverence for fashion that is not gender specific. (see reference to Spurlock's bad tie)

I do A LOT of criminal defense work, so I deal with irrational, poorly clothed, jerks on a regular basis. Seeing a pleasant and highly successful woman reach a pinnacle in her career is something I just enjoy. I'll give her a few months before I start getting too critical.

Does anyone remember commenting on Bob Woodruff's clothes or Gibson's (what is his first name)?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buddy larsen said...

The capital of lesbianism is Beirut, I thought.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: Yeah, I know. Do you have any more ideas?

MnMark said...

What struck me about the "help me think of a sign-off" contest was not so much that they were making a contest out of it, but that she would be so unserious as to admit that she actually spent time thinking about what to say - and then couldn't even come up with anything.

Can you imagine Edward R. Murrow or any of those other serious journalists of the past going on the air and saying "I couldn't think of a sign-off"? The frickin' sign-off isn't supposed to mean diddley-squat anyway! Just do the job well and say "good night". Personally I would find THAT very refreshing.

I suppose she could sign-off for the next few years with "I STILL haven't thought of a sign-off," and then giggle. That would seem about right.

buddy larsen said...

Remember the heyday of the blockbuster action flick--the tagline was the pop-cult thing?

Taglines were everywhere for awhile. I can't even remember 'em now. "I'll Be back" is all that comes to mind. But the promo mind was for sure on 'em, like white on rice, concept-wise.

"Get a tagline!" could've been the PR industry's tagline.

So, that's what I think Katie's CBS team is after; a nice 80s-style tagline.

Maybe "I'll Be Cute!" ...intoned Arnold-style?

Milbarge said...

The "Yes, Suri" pun is from the Vanity Fair cover.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched network news for years, but I did tonight. Aside from Katie's debut, I was reminded of how little time they have beyond selling products (commercials).

Just enough breaths left to take a pot-shot at Shell (Oil), declare Afghanistan (Bush) a complete loss, and ask TimesSelect's Tom Friedman to explain in 30 seconds why he's still lost in the multitude of variables.

But there was Katie, the very picture of too-early-in-the-morning perkiness, which I suppose is a victory for the weaker sex in the gender wars.

Or was it.

Michael J Hoffman said...

"The capital of lesbianism is Beirut, I thought."

That joke was funny for a while, but now I'm beginning to Tyre of it!

buddy larsen said...

Guess i oughtta retyre it, then.

John Stodder said...

Some possible sign-off lines:

"This is Katie Couric, reminding you to take your fiber supplements."

"This is Katie Couric, and I can't wait to read what you blogged about me."

Or, like Dinah Shore, she could turn her back to the camera, cover her mouth with her hand, then whirl toward the audience and blow America a kiss.

Joe Giles said...

I just can't think of Katie and sex appeal in the same sentence.

When I think of her, I imagine a high school diving coach, complete w/ flip score cards and degree of difficulty list, who encourages condescendingly while telling you there's room for improvement.

Bruce Hayden said...

From Ann't blog and all the comments, it is not quite clear what the target audience is. Obviously (probably), not anyone younger than she. But the audience for network news is relatively old anyway, to that is probably just fine. The big question though is sex. Which sex is it aimed at. Overall, it seems to be aimed more at women, providing a softer, more personal, look at the nightly news.

And that would not be a bad target market to aim at. Let the men go to the other two networks. Of course, there is the problem that in a lot of families, watching the nightly news is done together, and this may alienate enough men that ratings drop instead of rise. But then again, it could work.

The problem though is that if they are aiming this at women, they seem to be misfiring a bit. For example, Ann's comments about Katie's legs looking bare. Maybe good for men, but bad for women, esp. women of the age that would be likely to be viewers. I think though that the white microphone is a dead giveaway that the show is aimed more at women.

On the other hand, it was her first night, and not surprisingly, they need to get some of the bugs out of it.

One of them is obviously the head nodding that Eugene pointed out. Sorry to stereoptype, but a typically female way of conversation and relating to people (read Deborah Tannen). Just apparently doesn't work in this situation. Maybe. Some of us are probably more sensitive to this - I know I am.

hdhouse said...

Thomas said...
My original thoughts, upon hearing the decision to "cast" Couric in this role, was that it truly spelled the end of any credibility the MSM had for producing and reporting news...

Sadly, CBS had a chance. As painful as it could have been for their anchor, they could have decided to learn from the phenomenal success (whether you agree with them or not) of Fox News and report the news with, if not a conservative slant like Fox, a middle of the road stance..."

Faux News? Which program do you consider "news"? Serious question here. On Faux. What is the news program? Is it the top and bottom of the hour snippets with lip-glossed-to-death anchorettes speak with gravitas about jon benet with stolen CNN video framed in the background (yes Faux routinely steals CNN feeds and crops them)... seriously what is Faux News. I know of no such program.

Frankly, I know the Faux (News Corp) people pretty well and thier top down commitment to News is, well,....pathetic comes to mind.

Oh...and please tell me what is good about presenting news from a political/philosophical perspective? are you just admitting that every bit of gas that passes at Faux is biased. It is so perhaps you are telling the truth.

Cousin Don said...

My wife and I watched until the first break, and the giant phallus must of scared us away b/c we flipped to NBC news, which we watch occassionally.

BTW we are both much younger than Katie, so I guess we are not the CBS news demographic. She tends to veer left and me right, and we both thought it sucked.

I, of course, hated the Friedman piece, b/c it should have had the NY TIMES "NEWS ANALYSIS," (the NY Times euphemism for opinion piece they stuck on page one) in a graphic at the bottom of the screen.

knox said...

The thing that gets me is how much money goes into all this... and how many supposedly creative minds. You'd think they could come up with some sort of new approach (I don't even expect substantive!) Instead they're making a big deal just because it's a girl. BFD! They really earn that "dinosaur" label.

Smilin' Jack said...

I know how she wants to sign off:

ThankGodthatsovernowsomeone helpmegetthisfuckingcorsetoff!!!

Squints said...

....and the bees then turned into "wasps", according to the Journalist?

Nurture trumping nature after all. Bee Pygmalion.

sandy said...

Katie Couric's signoff:

Can someone pass me the mashed potatoes?

Anthony said...

"That's our story and we're sticking with it. No matter what."

Behr Whitewash said...

Re: 'freeSpeech', it is common in geek world to 'camel case' words. First word is lower case, spaces are substituted with capital letters for any words. A Couric optimist could view this as a hat tip to the relevance of the blogosphere in the world today..

BZZZT said...

Loved .... LARA LOGAN. Missed Bob Schieffer who was gazillion times better than dipwad Dan. Nice to hear Cronkite's intro. Katie's.... ok so far, after all only one day.

CONTENT: It was Boring. Too soft for me (of the female persuasion) -- I was totally indifferent to most of it -- in fact, all of it except for Lara Logan as mentioned above.

I started watching again after Schieffer took the chair. He followed the Cronkite mode. Rather was schizo and inauthentic.

If they're going to do soft features, they should steal Jeannie Most (moost?) from CNN.

It's Okay to move away from the traditional format, but something's not yet 'there' -- and I sure hope, unlike Oakland -- that soon there will be a 'there there.'

The freeSpeech thing reminds me of what they do on CBS Sunday Mornings -- it works there, not sure about here, yet. Not looking forward to Rush Limbaugh. Ugh...Since I hate faux news, this is walking a thin line ...

If they bring Nancy Giles onto this segment of the Evening news, then I could manage to let it pass if she makes frequent appearances. Nancy is super brilliant, thoughtful.

Truly Hope it gets a little 'harder' or at least intellectually more challenging...too much to hope for?

I think after Katie gets her 'sea legs' she'll become less self-conscious. Geez what a lot of pressure.

I'm rooting for her, but hope it gets more of a news edge ... otherwise, I'm outa there

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hdhouse said...

Mike said...
hdhouse asked: "Faux News? Which program do you consider "news"? Serious question here. On Faux. What is the news program?"

Brit Hume's program.

NO NO Mike. I mean news. Like in a story happens, a reporter reports it as it happens..that kinda special visits from the beltway boys, no horowitz types, just a half hour or so of straight know...we decide? that kinda thing....just a thought. but brit hume? ahhhhhh no.

Brooklyn Kitchen said...

That's all the news that's new tonight. I really, really hope you love me. But if you don't, it's okay. Really.

BJK said...

I'm kind of hoping for:

"And that's the way I say it is."

Still...wouldn't bring me to tune in.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven said...

ok you chuckleheads...where do you get your news?

Google News.

Which is to say, on every news story, I get the written-story depth that broadcast news can't provide, up-to-the-minute-ness that TV news can't match, and the ability to contrast stories from widely different sources to help ferret out mistakes, bias, and other anti-news.

If you're going to spend half an hour a day getting news, it utterly crushes TV news.

stavr0s said...

CBS NEWS with Katie Couric — the woman who dared to wear white after Labor Day.

Susan said...

If anything was ripe for a David Letterman Top 10 list, it's suggestions for Katie Couric's sign-off.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I suppose:

"CBS News, occasionally faked, but Accurate"

would be considered dated?

How about:

"And that's the way we WISH it was?"

"Yesterday's news Today" has possibilities, but also connotations that may be copyrighted.

Maybe a Sean Hannity sytle countdown would work, something like:

"Only 632 days until the Hillary regime, goodnight"?

Or possibly this CBS classic:

"What's the frequency Kenneth?"

Best of though would be another tribute to Mr. Rather:

6 minutes of silence!

Jane Terry said...

Since viewers disagree on the content and delivery of a nightly news cap, perhaps CBS should drop "news" from the show's name and call it "30 Minutes with Katie Couric." There would be no pretense about presenting a balanced view; fluff and "more feminine stories" could be included; and Katie's non-reporter make-up, apparel, or demeanor would be appropriate.

Edgewater Isle said...

I agree about Sherry Preston. She does not know how to control her voice. She is constantly breaking into a high pitched whine, and I switch her off. I'm much rather listen to Ann Compton drone on. She's more in control of herself.