Rumors vs. News

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 4, 2006; 10:45 AM

The hardest stories to report sometimes are those in which "everyone knows" something is true.

"Everyone" has known for many weeks that Katie Couric is leaving NBC to anchor the "CBS Evening News." Except that sometimes these things don't come off as planned, at least until the ink is dry on the contract. But I'm very cautious about reporting rumors and speculation on the job front, even while everyone else is rumor-ing and speculating away. So until yesterday, I didn't.

But I was able to confirm that NBC expects Couric to leave "Today," with an announcement expected within days (or maybe hours). The network is so certain that executives have already offered Couric's job to Meredeith Vieira, now with "The View" and some show where she gives away up to a million dollars. (Vieira is mulling it over.) People at CBS expect Couric to succeed Bob Schieffer, but that announcement won't come for a little while until the contractual details are hammered out. My full report here.

I mention this because we're going through the same thing with the White House staff shakeup, or mini-shakeup, or soon-to-be-major shakeup. One set of reports says that John Snow is out as Treasury chief.

Well, maybe. But let me remind you what happened after the 2004 election.

The Washington Post, Nov. 29: "One senior administration official said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow can stay as long as he wants, provided it is not very long."

The New York Times, Dec. 6: "President Bush has decided to replace John W. Snow as treasury secretary and has been looking closely at a number of possible replacements, including the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., Republicans with ties to the White House say."

Dec. 8: Bush asks Snow to stay for his second term.

In the same vein, CNN reported yesterday morning that the White House press secretary might not be long for that podium. The liberal group Think Progress posted the story:

"According to both administration and GOP insiders, we're hearing here at CNN that Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Treasury Secretary John Snow could be the next ones to be shown to the door."

Key phrase: could be .

"Now, why McClellan? Several sources familiar with the thinking of new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten say that immediately, right out of gate, he began on focusing on improving White House communications in order to regenerate the White House's -- the administration's message, the performance -- you know those poll numbers are really lagging right now. One White House insider says there's been 'a lot of dissatisfaction with the state of communications.'


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