Rival network news anchors Brian Williams of NBC and Diane Sawyer of ABC both reacted to Katie Couric’s announcement Tuesday that she’s leaving “The CBS Evening News,” which she has anchored for five years.
Williams and Sawyer reported the story on their own newscasts Tuesday evening. Coincidentally, both reports clocked in at the same length – 18 seconds.
Here’s how Williams reported it on “The NBC Nightly News”: “It’s been long rumored, but today it was made official. After five years as the anchor of ‘The CBS Evening News,’ our friend and NBC News alum, Katie Couric, will be leaving the anchor chair. She is reportedly close to announcing a deal for a daily talk show to air on stations around the country. No word yet on Katie’s successor officially.”
Here’s what Sawyer said on ABC’s “World News”: “And a note about someone who spends this half-hour as we do, who has announced she is moving on. Our colleague and friend, Katie Couric, made it official today. She’ll be stepping down from ‘The CBS Evening News,’ heading off to a new adventure and we know it will be a great one.”
It’s always interesting when the news anchors report on another member of their own exclusive club. Certainly, it’s newsworthy when a top TV personality makes this kind of a move – as Couric did when she made her “announcement” via People magazine. And, at 18 seconds, you can’t accuse NBC or ABC of overdoing the story.
But beneath the anchors’ statements about their “friend” and “colleague,” you can’t help wondering if they’re reporting a story such as this one with just a wee bit of self-satisfaction. After all, Couric is not exactly “stepping down” on her own volition. It’s the new CBS News bosses who have reportedly decided they need to make a change because Couric was never able to move the newscast out of third place. And Sawyer and Williams happen to be the other network news anchors who have helped keep CBS in last place.
Neither Sawyer nor Williams mentioned that Couric is leaving “Evening News” due primarily to the ratings. Nor did they report on the speculation that Scott Pelley would replace her (that announcement is expected next week, if not before).
Williams at least mentioned that Couric is likely headed to the world of daytime TV to host her own talk show, though that’s not official yet either.
And Sawyer didn’t mention this: One of the most recent stories about Couric’s next move has ABC – Sawyer’s own network – emerging as a frontrunner to pick her up to host a syndicated talk show and also, perhaps, to contribute stories to Sawyer’s newscast, as a correspondent.