After an ambitious trip to Afghanistan in which Katie Couric covered America’s latest war efforts for “CBS Evening News,” CBS received some frustrating news: the program marked perhaps its lowest rated week ever.
For the week of August 16th, “CBS Evening News” averaged 4.89 million viewers. As Brian Stelter of The New York Times points out, Nielsen’s current ratings system only goes back to the 1991-92 season so last week was certainly the program’s worst in almost 20 years but it’s possible that it was its worst for “a far longer period of time.”
While critics ponder whether the low ratings are a sign that Americans aren’t interested in the war or an indicator of Katie Couric’s fading star power, the clearest answer may be that CBS did a great deal of shuffling during the week to accommodate for Couric’s travel to Afghanistan. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Erica Hill and Harry Smith filled in before Couric returned to the air to anchor the Thursday and Friday broadcasts. Still, the ratings can’t sit well with CBS News staffers, especially as rival NBC received heavy exposure for its coverage of troop withdrawal in Iraq.
“Evening News” executive producer Rick Kaplan said that he had no regrets. “We think the story was worth it,” he told the Associated Press. “I make no apologies for it at all.” More…