Katie Couric takes over as anchor of CBS Evening News on September 5. Normally that would be all ye know, and all ye need to know. But in the networks' continuing struggle to remake every anchor into a hybrid of Cronkitean gravitas and Brokawvian humility, Couric has already been pre-killed by a tidal wave of overexposure. From a mawkishly overwrought farewell on Today to a ludicrously conceived "listening tour" and a $10 million ad campaign to build up her "trustiness," Couric is everywhere too much and too loud. And with so much overthinking about the hustle & flow of her newscast, it's obviously going to be The Katie Couric Show (with news).
And yeah, sure, she's the first woman to lead a newscast, and that's great — can't wait to see what she's wearing! For decades, news anchors were all of a type for a reason — people wanted their news dispensed by a grimly serious paterfamilias who saw all, knew all, and carefully selected just what you needed to hear, and how. If he ever cracked a smile, it was an indulgent smile, letting you know it was now permissible to feel OK about America for a moment or two. We don't need that level of reassurance anymore, but even the aging though spendy segment of the population that still watches the evening news doesn't need an anchor who goes on a listening tour. News anchors are talking heads, not listening heads. We would have been more than happy to give Couric every chance if her campaign of show-prep destruction hadn't already made us so, so tired of looking at her face and hearing her voice. We never watched her on Today because we sleep too late, and now that she's on in the evenings, we'll just have to hit the bars too early.