Caitlin Flanagan on Katie Couric, Morning TV, and Why News is Doomed


In the January Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan explains the allure of the Today show,

When it is on, the television screen is no longer a barrier separating real life from TV land; the television screen is a window into another room of the house, the one where the grown-ups are.

in a piece about Katie Couric. She writes of the old Katie:

sporting a Dorothy Hamill wedge, the tonsorial equivalent of a vow of chastity

and the new:

It was as though she’d gone backward through the familiar process that had taken Diane Sawyer, her rival, from pageant queen to journalist.

She’s reviewing Edward Klein’s “tell-all and then some” biography of Couric, and she’s not amused. But Flanagan’s real point here is how little television executives understood about their audience. Morning TV is a busy mom’s boon companion; nightly news is a nag, tugging at your sleeve while you’re trying to make dinner and keep the kids from killing each other. Couric’s job isn’t a milestone, it’s a millstone:

She spent her time gunning for a position that had been drained of its status and importance long before she got there.

Yesterday was Couric’s birthday, too.