Next month, Katie Couric will become CBS’s new permanent evening-news anchor, the first such switch in 25 years (since Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite in 1981). And of course, the most pressing question from the media is: What will Katie wear? Not what are her credentials for the job? Or who does she know in Washington or internationally? What will she wear? “Katie Plays It Cool: Still undecided on her new look” is the New York Post headline about her press conference with reporters yesterday. (“It’s the question everyone is asking: What will Katie wear? The answer: She doesn’t know.”) Just like the movie biz, TV has always been an image-conscious profession. It just seems that with the world on the verge of blowing up, maybe there’d be a little less concern about whether Katie will sport a new ’do for her debut or whether she prefers Prada or Fendi. Of course, it’s also an incredibly sexist medium. How else to explain the “money honey” label that CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo has lived with so long? Or why CNN would air a promo calling Paula Zahn “just a little bit sexy”? How many American women think Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper is sexy? Probably more than a few, but it would never be played up in a promo. And how much hoopla has there ever been about a male anchor’s wardrobe? Dan’s sweater vest aside.
—Posted by Steve McClellan