11 September 2006

And that's the way it became...

Okay, I've watched this television train-wreck known as The CBS Evening News With Katie Cupcake for five days now.

I tried to give the woman a chance, despite my misgivings.

Upfront I'll say it. I've never cared much for Katie Cupcak--er, Couric. She has always struck me as a lightweight. No different from feature reporters at a newspaper falling flat on their face when they try their hand at doing real news.

I will give credit where it's due: Katie brought stability to a troubled Today, rocked by the whole Deborah Norville mess back in the early '90s. That I'll grant her.

But Katie Couric has never struck me as a "real" journalist. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. This is not a gender issue, nor is it a bias against morning show hosts. There are plenty of women who could pull off the CBS Evening News. Two of them, it must be noted, have morning shows on their professional vitae: Jane Pauley (Today, 1976-1990) and Diane Sawyer (Good Morning America, 1999-present; CBS Morning News, 1981-84). Both women would've made excellent anchors for an evening newscast. Even a case could be made for Joan Lunden (GMA, 1980-97). Despite the fact that I cannot stand her, she could pull it off with little difficulty.

And men? Charles Gibson jumped from GMA to ABC's evening newscast without anyone uttering a peep. So did Tom Brokaw, who hosted Today in the late '70s. They have what it takes. But could you have imagined The CBS Evening News With Bryant Gumbel? Or David Hartman?

Exactly.

The sad truth is, television is a visual medium. And how someone looks is just as important -- not only do you have to have it in you, but you have to LOOK it, too. Male or female, some people have 'that' look - the look of authority. And there has to be a touch of charisma thrown in, too.

Unfortunately, it means good journalists get thrown into the dumpster because they lack the look and/or the charisma .... while the most moronic empty-headed bimbos and airhead doofuses (doofi?) who have both the look of authority and that visual spark can make it to the top faster than you can say "Ted Baxter" or "Jessica Savitch", despite that they couldn't name all nine Supreme Court justices (heck, many wouldn't know there were nine!). Have you seen the movie Broadcast News? The Tom Grunick character (played by William Hurt) perfectly illustrates what I mean. (Gawd, I love that movie -- gotta find that on DVD)

But back to Baba Wawa #2, a/k/a Katie Cupcake. I watched her, hoping that some amazing, incredible transformation had taken place. That the CBS makeup department transformed Miss Today Show Girl into ... Miss Murrow. Tonight (Monday, 11 September 2006) any remaining hope and illusion forever disappeared.

It was the final feature piece of the newscast, about the young boy (Hasani Houston) who'd lost his Dad, a NYC Port Authority policeman, in the WTC attack five years ago. A program called "Tuesday's Children" produced a young 30-year-old banker named David Herzog, who - in effect - has become a regular "male role model" in Hasani's life.

It was a very sober, sweet and inspiring turn of events. There's a special place in heaven for men like Mr. Herzog. Seeing these relationships being built renews my hope in America.

It wasn't the piece itself. It was three words Katie Cupcake uttered immediately following the story:

She looks toward her monitor, and says "He's SO cute."

"He's SO Cute."

I sat there, jaw completely slack. She didn't. She couldn't have said that.

I hit 'rewind' on the DVR. Yup, she did.

I'm sorry, but that's not the way a news anchor is supposed to act. I said to Seraphim, "Could you have imagined Walter Cronkite coming out of a feature story saying, "That's SO cute. And THAT'S ... the way it is ...."

When I think of authoritative on-air personalities with substance, a lot of great local names come to mind. Jody Chapin here in Savannah. Mike Shain in my old stomping grounds of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Bill Bolen and Bob Howell in Alabama. And, who, in my opinion, was the best local TV journalist ever, the unflappable Joe Langston. He was a Birmingham icon for more than 25 years before his retirement in 1987. Despite a short-lived stint as a kiddie-show host (where he interacted with a knock off of 'Thing' from The Addams Family), Joe Langston's credentials as a newsman were unimpeachable.

I'm not saying Mr. Langston, et al, never should've been 100% stoic. They're human, after all. After a moving story like the Herzog/Houston piece, perhaps a nice smile, as if to say "what an inspiring story!", would've done the trick. Ya know???

Katie Couric doesn't have what it takes. Period.

*********
One moment of hilarity ensued following the broadcast. Seraphim said, "I wonder just who she thought was cute -- the young boy, or the man ... after all, she is single." My response: "Who would want her? Katie Couric is a bitch with a big ego!"

No sooner had those last words left my mouth, Puddy popped her head out from under the end table beside my chair, as if to say "You rang?"

No, Puddy, the other bitch with a big ego.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I say it here, it comes out there!" Gleck

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