New York‘s 6,000-word Katie Couric profile dropped this morning. Joe Hagan covered the bases: the drop in ratings; the claims of fluff content (Couric on Suri Cruise: “Yessiree, she does exist!”); the allegations of sexism. But let’s get to the salient points of the article:
- Why did Leslie Moonves offer Couric the job? Because he “wanted to attract new audiences to the evening news by making it more like entertainment, envisioning a broadcast that was somewhere in between The Naked News, a British TV show in which beautiful women undress as they read the headlines, and ‘two boring people behind a desk.'”
- Couric’s hairdresser, Mela Murphy, told a deputy assignment editor at CBS News’ foreign desk that Couric’s producers were “lucky to have their jobs” after Murphy wasn’t given first-class plane tickets with Couric to work on-site in Jordan.
- Couric’s salary? Somewhere between $15 million and $22 million. Staffers and producers grouse they aren’t getting raises because Couric’s pay eats up too much of the Evening News‘ budget.
- CBS News staff has been butting heads with Couric and blocking her from high profile interviews and enterprise stories: Trips to Iraq and Afghanistan were turned down; when Elizabeth Edwards personally requested Couric interview her after she discovered her cancer returned, CBS initially blocked it because they thought “the news value had passed.”
- That story the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Gail Shister broke claiming CBS was going to let Couric go after the 2008 elections? It’s implied Couric thinks Bob Schieffer was Shister’s source.
- Dan Rather: Moonves believes “the audience is redneck.”
Oh, and Couric once assaulted a staffer:
During the tuberculosis story in June, Couric got angry with news editor Jerry Cipriano for using a word she detested — “sputum” — and the staff grew tense when she began slapping him “over and over and over again” on the arm, according to a source familiar with the scene. It had seemed like a joke at first, but it quickly became clear that she wasn’t kidding.