Is There an Echo in Here? CBS Emphasizes That Katie Couric Is Staying Put

By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, July 19, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 18

Reports that CBS News will replace evening news anchor Katie Couric after the presidential election or the inauguration are not true, division chief Sean McManus re-re-reiterated Friday.

"I can say, and I have said, that it's not true," he said, via satellite, to TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2008. That puts to rest -- until the next blogger discovers it -- the story that's been circulating since less than a year after Couric became anchor in September '06 and her ratings quickly fell behind the competition and behind the crowd Bob Schieffer had been amassing when he was filling in after Dan Rather's exit.

"First of all, I think it's actually died down considerably," Couric weighed in on the reports she was leaving "CBS Evening News."

"I can't really control what media writers write," she said, before giving them the Echo Chamber Speech. You know: "I think sometimes we live in a bit of an echo chamber that probably the people in your room and obviously the people here are more fascinated by things along these lines than anyone else in the real world. So it's befuddling to me, the amount of attention I have received," she said.

Because she, too, was appearing via satellite, she could not see the reax in the room and whether the critics were buying it. Not much.

They accused CBS News, and the other broadcast network newscasts, of rock-star journalism -- you know, anchors lured overseas to trail Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe with the promise they'll get one-on-one interview time and oodles of access.

McManus insisted it was going to be the week's biggest story.

"Any time a candidate who has been questioned a lot about his stance on foreign policy, his expertise on foreign policy -- any time he makes his first major foreign trip to the Middle East, I think is an enormous news event, and I think that if we didn't cover it we wouldn't be doing our job," he said with conviction.

Couric, however, admitted "it was very deft on the part of the Obama campaign. I mean, I have to be honest with you, when John McCain went to four countries in the Middle East in March . . . I think that had he extended an invitation and offered time for each network to sit down and have extensive conversations and access to him during that trip, that's something we would have strongly considered as well."

CBS Newser Jeff Greenfield -- also there via satellite -- said he has "a strong hunch the people interviewing Obama will have tough questions.

"It's not like North Korean television covering Kim Jong Il," he said.

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