Couric Leaving CBS?: What’s Next?

By Chris Ariens Comment

HarrySmith_4.9.jpgLet the parlor game…resume. If Katie Couric does leave CBS, who will replace her on the Evening News? Harry Smith and Russ Mitchell have filled in most when Couric is away. A person close to the situation recently told TVNewser that taking Smith off The Early Show would only shake up a team that is just beginning to gel. Still, another insider told TVNewser Smith, the 22-year CBS News vet, is the odds-on favorite.

And what about Bob Schieffer? The employee of the year in 2006, Schieffer successfully bridged the year-and-a-half Rather – Couric gap. Toward the end of his time at the Evening News, Schieffer’s broadcast came within 200,000 viewers of ABC’s World News. Last week, Couric’s broadcast was more than two-million viewers behind second place ABC. Schieffer was recently convinced to postpone his retirement as moderator of Face The Nation.

Bringing in someone from the outside may not be be an option this time. Then again, the replacement could be…no one. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves could use this opportunity to finally blow up the venerable broadcast once and for all, and give the time back to affiliates.

As for Couric, the WSJ’s Rebecca Dana writes her future might be on cable:

One possible new job for Ms. Couric: succeeding Larry King at CNN. Mr. King, who is 74 years old, has a contract with the network into 2009. CNN President Jon Klein, a CBS veteran with close ties to some at the network, has expressed admiration for Ms. Couric’s work, and the two are friends. They had lunch in late January, and the anchor attended Mr. Klein’s birthday party in March.

Additionally, one of Couric’s closest friends, Wendy Walker, is the executive producer of LKL.