CBS: Couric’s Failure Due To Sexist Americans

Katie Couric continues as America’s Victim at CBS. Last month, CBS VP Linda Mason told its Public Eye blog that Couric’s lack of success came from an innate sexism in the America, which she said preferred to get its news “from white guys”. Yesterday, CBS made that their official stance when CEO Les Moonves told a Newhouse School of Communications group that people don’t want their news from a woman (via Memeorandum):

Leslie Moonves, CBS chief executive, on Tuesday suggested that sexist attitudes were partly to blame for the faltering performance of Katie Couric, the news anchor he recruited to the network with a $15m annual pay package.
“I’m sort of surprised by the vitriol against her. The number of people who don’t want news from a woman was startling,” Mr Moonves said of the audience’s reaction to Ms Couric, who this month brought ratings for the CBS Evening News to a 20-year low.
He reiterated, however, that he was committed to Ms Couric and that he believed her programme would succeed in spite of its last place standing behind rivals ABC and NBC. …
Ms Couric has managed a 2 per cent increase in women age 18 to 49 since her September debut. However, that has been more than offset by an 11 per cent decline among men over 55, who still constitute the bulk of the evening news’ audience.

Apparently, the decline in that last demographic has fueled the bunker mentality at CBS that paints Couric as the victim of a Neanderthal reaction. However, Moonves in the same speech acknowledged that CBS moved away from “hard news” when they replaced Bob Schieffer with Couric in favor of an emphasis on human-interest stories. Not only did that not attract a large following among younger viewers, but it turned off people who watch news to see … news. Given CBS’ poor demos on younger viewers anyway, even the 2% increase comes as a result of having almost nowhere to go but up.
However, admitting that CBS blew it when they screwed up the formula for the show would put the blame on Moonves for the failure. Admitting that they overpaid for Couric, who apparently brought very little of her Today audience with her to CBS, would also make Moonves look like an idiot. Therefore, Moonves and his team at CBS want to shift blame to the people they supposedly serve — the audience. It’s a strange strategy. Does Moonves really think that he can attract new viewers by accusing them of being chauvinist pigs?
It makes no sense, in any case. Plenty of women successfully anchor local news shows in big-market cities. They don’t appear to have problems with women reporting in any corner of the nation. CBS had Connie Chung co-anchoring with Dan Rather for a while (1993-95). They didn’t can her because the audience abandoned them — she got canned because Rather got jealous over her assignments, and also because Chung acted insensitively towards the Oklahoma City Fire Department in the wake of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building. ABC has had Barbara Walters anchor the news for a brief period, and many women have featured roles on prominent news magazines, such as CBS’ Leslie Stahl and ABC’s Diane Sawyer.
Even if it were true — which it isn’t — then Moonves is still an idiot. Does he mean to inform Viacom shareholders that he gave Couric a $15 million salary without testing to see whether her gender would be a factor? I call BS. Somewhere, CBS has an entire file cabinet of focus group responses to Couric and/or a generic woman anchoring the nightly news. It would have either shown that the CBS Evening News would tank, if Moonves is correct about the high level of sexism, or it would show that it makes no difference.
If the former, then Moonves is a poor executive for making that kind of investment in a losing proposition. If the latter — which is a certainty — then the fault lies not with the audience, but with CBS for airing a stinker of a news broadcast. Moonves should stop spending so much time blaming his audience for their taste, and spend more time fixing his organization and the show.

59 thoughts on “CBS: Couric’s Failure Due To Sexist Americans”

  1. CBS offered Couric a huge sum of money to come and read the teleprompter at 6:30 every weeknight, she chose to resign her position at NBC and accept the new job and now most of us have decided we don’t want to watch her. Freedom of the marketplace for all concerned. America at its best. I see no reason why we, the consumers, should be the only ones who are required to justify our decision to tune Couric out or be attacked as chauvinistic neanderthals because of it.

  2. “I’m sort of surprised by the vitriol against her. The number of people who don’t want news from a woman was startling.”
    Moonves got this right except for the tiny error of conflating woman with Moonves/CBS.

  3. American TV ‘journalism’ will forever be deeply compromised as long as its news readers are allowed to become the story.
    Rather was corrupt, Couric is a lightweight, and neither deserve our confidence.
    Watching these extremists battle each other is nearly as much fun as watching Fatah and Hamas fighting each other.

  4. I tuned in one night and was greeted with ..
    Another US failure … and a Katrina followup story where somebody suffered.
    I mean, I can take bad news. but putting the editorializing up front doesn’t exactly make me want to watch.
    Another Moonves failure is more like it.

  5. I don’t want my news from the MSM, period. I don’t care who is reading it to me.
    And as long as I can read, why would I even want my news read to me? I can read more news in five minutes than Katey will read to me in 20 (and w/o 10 minutes of commercials).
    The question is not “why aren’t more people watching newscasts”?
    The question is, “why do people waste their time watching newscasts at all?”

  6. Replacing Couric will perhaps improve the packaging, but the product is still Sumner Redstone’s.

  7. Moonves solution is what, to force us sexist older white guys to watch TV news? I’m part of that demographic, but I don’t watch the evening news, and haven’t watched for the past 30 years or more.
    I used to get an evening paper that had some meat to it. Since that is no longer an option, and the morning paper is not news by the time I get home, I read on the Internet.
    Mr Moonves fails to understand that I can get the news I want, when I want it, for free. How does he compete with that?

  8. Barbara Frum was a popular prime time news anchor for many years in Canada. Ask her son, David Frum. The problem with Katie is Katie.

  9. if Moonves really believes that a demographic dynamic is at play here, well isn’t the job of a primetime tv executive to craft programs that cater to what the target demographic wants? The gain in women has not overtaken, by any stretch, the lost of audience in the over 55 audience, therefore one could reasonably say that Moonves misread the audience and should fix it by catering to them.
    BTW, Bernie Shaw was the face of CNN for 20 years, repudiating Moonves other comment about male anchors, white males anchors to be specific.

  10. “Moonves should stop spending so much time blaming his audience for their taste, and spend more time fixing his organization and the show.”
    The ship (along with many other MSM icons) has sprung a leak, and with time, will ungracefully sink into the vast sea of obsolescence. That is the cat that Moonves is kicking right now, but just can’t admit.

  11. Katie was hired, not for her qualifications, but because she was a woman. That’s a sexism. Katie is being rejected, not because she’s a woman, but because she’s not qualified. That’s not sexism.

  12. As we used to say in the military, “You can polish a turd all you want, but you still have a turd.” A not so nice way of saying that you need to improve something instead of trying to gloss over that that does not work.
    FOX has plenty of women hosting shows and they do a good job. When you cannot justify your action throw rocks. The typical liberal reaction.

  13. Moonves says Americans don’t trust women reporters. That’s why he had Rather deliver the Texas Air National Guard story with the forged documents.

  14. But, but, but … you don’t understand, she’s just as cute as a button — and as smart as a rock.

  15. I wonder if what we’re seeing at CBS isn’t the result of economics and not demographics. Like the rest of MSM, CBS has had plummeting viewership in the last decade. That has *got* to lead to less money and cut budgets for programming.
    Cut budgets, in turn, means that CBS can not *afford* to pursue Real News stories, but must (1) quote unknown stringers and photographers from around the world, (2) depend upon AP and their ilk, and/or (3) concentrate on “human interest” stories.
    Because stringers and photographers have a disconcerting habit of turning out to be lying terrorists, and AP/BBC/Agence France are *all* even more anti-American than CBS, the decision was made to go for more of a “human interest” venue. Hence, the hiring of Katie Couric.
    I think the human interest thing could have worked if CBS had just made an effort to NOT cover Paris Hilton-type papparazzi stories. If they had focused on the sort of gossip that Drudge, for example, puts out which is much more wide-ranging than what MSM has been doing. But then, following the lead of the blogosphere, they would inevitably have gotten back into reporting actual “news”, even if it was home-grown, and that hasn’t been their mandate.
    I think Moonves is trying everything he can think of to save his fatally sinking ship of CBS. And the hiring of Couric and her subsequent rejection by American viewers is just a sign that CBS is sinking and can’t afford to bail itself out any more. I’m remembering the death of Life magazine when *it* couldn’t afford continue, either … but it seemed to end itself much more gracefully than CBS, et al., are managing.

  16. The bulk of their audience is men over 55 and they are surprized that viewership goes down when they replace a man with a woman? How do these people stay in business?
    What do they suppose would happen to the audience of ABC’s “The View” if they replaced all of the current on-air staff with men? Women aren’t sexist (as proven by Katie’s increase among that group) so viewership wouldn’t drop right? It would go up because all those sexist men would watch now, right? Yeah, right.

  17. My blood was boiling after reading this, so I decided to channel the ire.
    I went to the CBS News website, and filled out a comment form. Maybe it’s not much, but it made me feel better.

  18. Dear Mr. Moonbat Moonves:
    I haven’t watched network news for over a decade. Obviously Couric’s sex has nothing to do with it.
    I think a number of alternate hypotheses will present themselves if you think about the problem honestly.
    –Kent G. Budge

  19. Evening news
    I seem to recall such a beast from way back in the last millenium. Thought it was already extinct.

  20. I’m reminded of a survey done by the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut years ago to try and find out why so many members did not attend Mass. I wrote to the Archbishop and said he should start with a survey of the ones that DID attend to find out why, in spite of all the incompetence, so many STILL attended. Basic marketing is to first discover as much as you can about your current customers. CBS should try to find out why they’ve been able to KEEP the viewers they do have.
    They might find out, like old time Chicago voters, some of those rating points represent persons ‘not currently verifiable as extant’

  21. There are three words that effectively summarize why I refuse to watch any CBS News program regardless of who is hosting.
    “Fake but accurate.”
    Any news organization that accepts that as a working standard deserves to fail.

  22. So now I am to feel guilty about not supporting the PC play by CBS. Just like we don’t just need a woman president (as opposed to a competent unifier and leader regardless of sex) we don’t need a woman anchor (in fact we don’t need no stinkin’ anchors). Just think how Hillary will open the minds of all those wonderfully PC muslims in the middle east.

  23. CBS VP Linda Mason told its Public Eye blog that Couric’s lack of success came from an innate sexism in the America, which she said preferred to get its news “from white guys”.

    I said right from the beginning that people don’t want to get their news from a chick, especially a perky chick who spins the news with her especially annoying brand of perkiness.
    Call it what you will, but the viewers simply aren’t buying. Keep putting out quiche, and people who don’t like quiche will go to the other networks for their red meat.

  24. Capt. Ed. asks, “Does Moonves really think that he can attract new viewers by accusing them of being chauvinist pigs?”
    Sure, and probably with good reason. I’m guessing that Moonves is playing the sexism card, and it should probably resonate well with the Liberal/Left, who might want to prove (to themselves, if not CBS & Moonves) that they are not chauvinist pigs by watching the CBS Evening News. CBS News is committed to Couric, and nothing else seems to have worked, so this kind of baiting probably seems worth a shot to him.
    This tactic is typical for the Liberal/Left – it’s the natural result, and one of the purposes of, identity politics. Vote Obama to prove you’re not a racist – or vote for Hillary! to prove you’re not sexist. Support the Immigration Reform bill to prove you’re not a xenophobic nationalistic racist pig. The target of these spurious charges is the Liberal/Leftist, who very much wants to prove that they’re not sexist, racist, etc., and will take the prescribed action as directed to mitigate the implied accusation.
    Yes, they really are that dumb.

  25. The solution is so obvious. CBS should go after Rosie O’Donnell, who is now free from her contract with ABC. She did so much for the ratings of “The View” that surely she could help the ratings of the CBS Evening News. Her unconventional approach to discussion is just the ticket to help CBS finally make the break with the tired old audience they seem so eager to leave behind. And she seems to be right in line with the caliber of their news in recent years.

  26. The evening news? What day is that on?
    You better watch it a couple more times, so that you can tell your grandkids that you used to watch the news on television-
    ‘You see kids, a long time ago, there were these 3 big television stations, and they used to read the news to you at about suppertime…..’

  27. I don’t think it has to do with Couric being a woman – if they put Ryan Seacrest in charge of the CBS Evening News I imagine there would be a similar reaction.

  28. It is not difficult to understand why most people that care about the news tune people like Katie out……..fingernails on a chalk board. As someone wrote earlier “editorial writing before the news item” is cute bias generally coming from liberal hate mongers wanting to drag the viewer through “what they view we should know what is important to understand”……….ohhhhhhhhh…spare us please……………………………..

  29. Maybe its me but I turned Katie on in the AM when I got up for my dog to watch while I was taking a shower. The dog seemed to like her and I think it helped stimulate his bowles when I took him for a walk before going to work. Maybe CBS is missing the dog demographic that the Today show had in its ratings.

  30. The only way cbs will draw in more viewers to the couric newscast is to provide potential households new 42″ plasma tvs that are locked into cbs weeknights 6:30-7:00.

  31. Dan Rather’s ratings were in the tank also. Using Moonves logic he must of been a woman (in drag).

  32. Apparently they aren’t complaining about the increase in female viewers. That isn’t sexist, but the decrease in male viewers is.

  33. I might consider tuning into CBS news if they were a)significantly less biased…maybe even fair and balanced…too much to ask?
    b) competent at something other than slanted editorials masquerading as news
    c) the anchor person was selected not for perkiness or gender but because they had a bit of integrity…and had something besides nitrogen between the ears.
    Maybe. Still there’s so much good stuff on the Internet.

  34. I sent CBS an e-mail saying that this woman doesn’t watch Couric because Couric stinks and that they should bring back Bob Scheiffer.

  35. Bull. Katie’s ratings have zero to do with sexism. It is the result of a liberal, “drive by” media that has softened the news, has a left leaning agenda so people are turning to FOX and other outlets for their news. You can’t fool all the public all the time.

  36. Narcissists can’t admit mistakes, it always has to be someone else’s fault. (cf. Kerry’s “I’m sorry you misunderstood me.” non-apology)
    If Moonves is a Narcissist, then the blame shifting is typical, no matter how stupid it is from a business point of view.

  37. Dan Blather says they are “dumbing down and tarting up” the news. Since that seems to be failing, maybe they should go back to fabricating it – just like Dan did.

  38. Katie Couric is on CBS? Wow, who knew?
    I wondered what happened to her. I thought she got lost looking for Matt Lauer.

  39. Honestly I was embarrased for her when they had SIX MONTHS of parties, proclamations and congratulatory soirees before she had even done the job. It would have made more of an impact on me had she done the job (well) and then we acknowledged how she broke through a ceiling of sorts. Otherwise it’s a lot of fluff. I watch news for the news, not fluff.

  40. Honestly I was embarrased for her when they had SIX MONTHS of parties, proclamations and congratulatory soirees before she had even done the job. It would have made more of an impact on me had she done the job (well) and then we acknowledged how she broke through a ceiling of sorts. Otherwise it’s a lot of fluff. I watch news for the news, not fluff.

  41. I used to get my news from Mary Alice Williams and Gwen Ifill without batting an eye about their sex. The problem, CBS, is Couric. She never had an ounce of credibility as a news reporter after she left WRC-TV in Washington DC decades ago. You should have hired Lester Holt when it became obvious that Dan “What is the frequency, Kenneth?” Rather was finished.

  42. It is the easiest dodge in the world to blame us (the absent viewers), instead of looking inward and taking responsibility for making a bad pick. Actually, Moonves is the sexist, he picked Couric because he believed her sex appeal would attract viewers. In reality we “sexists pigs” are actually looking for substance.

  43. Oh, yeah. Katie. She follows my local news. Night after night, the lead story seems to be: “Tonight, more US soldiers die in Iraq.” Or, “Tonight, everyone we know says that Iraq was a mistake. We’ll have more reaction to that later as soon as we report on more US soldiers dying in Iraq.” Or, “Tonight, California disappears beneath the Pacific Ocean, but first, more US soldiers die in Iraq.” You get the drift.
    OK, so there’s a slight rut going on there. But something I’ve noticed is there’s something about Katie’s on-screen look that gives her a slightly hard-edged appearance, almost like the perkiness and/or softness is removed and a subliminal sharpness is added. I keep on expecting her to break loose one night and start barking, “I hate George Bush! I can’t stand the entire administration, and I’ll do anything, ANYTHING! to see him gone! We hatessss him, my precioussss, we do, we dooooo. And that’s the CBS Evening News for tonight, we’ll see you tomorrow.”

  44. There’s no problem with women heading up news programs. The problem is that CBS Evening News no longer delivers any real news. After the initial 90 seconds of reading the “top” headline of the day the show segues into just another “Women’s Day” television magazine format of women’s “special interest” issues that NEWS junkies like myself have no particular interest in.

  45. Moonves can’t blame me. I trust Katie Couric as much as I trusted Dan Rather.

  46. Network TV Nightly News…just like Rush, but in the opposite direction, and without the honesty to admit it.
    Network TV Nightly News….how nostalgic! I used to watch that with my grandparents as a child!
    Network TV Nightly News…and next, Gangbusters, Your Hit Parade, and later on, The Shadow Knows!

  47. Network News Anchors?
    ”Their appeal is becoming more . . . selective.” says the band’s manager

  48. Well, I must be a 52 year old Racist then, because Load-Mouthed Liberal Air-Head Leftist Democrat Puppet Trumpet Broads have always turned me off.

  49. I resent like hell the implication that I don’t watch Katie because she’s a woman.
    I don’t watch Katie because I do not take her seriously as a journalist. She’s a lightweight.
    Whenever she has to do an interview with a politician, her bias is obvious. She lobs mostly softball questions at Liberals, and looks down her nose and spits accusations at Conservatives.
    Personally, I get my news from a number of different sources. Some lean to the right. Some lean to the left.
    Basically, when you watch Katie, you get the news filtered through the value system of your typical post-millenial, intellectually lazy, and morally self-indulgent leftoid boomer. One can get this type of news almost anywhere. The question is, besides being a woman, what unique quality does Katie bring to the party?

  50. Maybe it was CBS News right wing neocon propaganda that ran off so many viewers. The MSM is controlled by the neocons. There is no ‘news’ anymore, just MSM telling us how to think. Once CBS went to the dark side, what did they expect?

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