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Yesterday Jon Friedman wrote a column about Katie Couric that began, "Katie Couric, at first, lived up to all the hype surrounding her move from NBC's "Today" show to "The CBS Evening News." Couric's show finished first in the much-followed television ratings on her first few nights after her ballyhooed debut on Sept. 5. In a remarkably short time, even by American television standards, Couric has slipped and her program fell back to a position that CBS unhappily knows all too well — third place, trailing NBC and ABC."

It was indeed a remarkably short time, because, with the exception of September 11, Couric has been pretty much winning her time slot in a remarkably close race.

CBS forced Marketwatch to correct Friedman's piece and include a letter the opened with the following:

While we wholeheartedly agree that everyone has the right to his or her opinion — including media columnists — we are so stunned by the irresponsibility and lack of accuracy on easily researched facts in Jon Friedman's column today ("Why Couric Already Has Slipped to Third Place") that we must set the record straight.

Clearly, CBS hasn't read Friedman before, and they're not happy about it. We, on the other hand, are surprisingly empathetic. We all make mistakes; we know that the temptation to twist the facts (or, as seems to be the case, not check the facts at all) to fit your own views is a difficult one to resist. Frankly, we feel sorry for the guy: He's roundly mocked by everyone in his industry for dispensing the most conventional of wisdoms. The constant refrain throughout the media world is, "How the fuck does this man keep his job?" The one time he goes out on a limb and tries to do something that no one else is doing, he gets smacked down in public. Just thinking about the humiliation he's feeling right now... it kind of makes us cringe.

Why Katie Couric is losing momentum [Marketwatch, correction appended]
Under Couric, Ratings Race Is Once Again, Well, a Race [NYT]
Schadenfreude [Wikipedia]

Earlier: Gawker's coverage of Jon Friedman