Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Bye and Good Riddance?

It has been forty-five years since Edward R. Murrow last appeared on radio or television, and forty years since he died. (See here.) But, some people just won't let him die. For the second time this month, an editorial cartoonist has used him to show how Katie Couric doesn't measure up. Couric, now on the Today show will become anchor of the CBS Evening News in September. One(not available online) showed Murrow and his famous sign-off-"Good night and good luck"-next to Couric, wearing a mini-skirt and saying, "Sweet!" The other cartoon was even more critical, with Murrow saying "Good night and good grief," as he reads from notes that say, "Katie 'Perky' Couric to anchor." (See here.)

It doesn't take a lot to see what the cartoonists think is wrong with Couric. She uses her good looks to get viewers and her approach is too "light" for "hard" news. But, how much of this comes down to Couric's sex? Murrow never had to see his credibility rest on what they wore--or didn't wear. He
isn't remembered for what Salon called Couric's "legs and perky giggle." (See here.) In other words, the world expects different things of women reporters. And, when people like Couric try to conform, they get blamed for it.

Sure, the cartoonists aren't the first to say that Couric may not be the best fit for the job. But, the others don't seem to have much better reasons. The New York Times's David Carr recently wrote that, on CBS, her legs "would disappear under the anchor desk." He quoted media analyst Andrew Tyndall as saying that it was "difficult to understand" why "Couric of all people is the one who is uniquely qualified to do that job."(See here.)

But, Couric is qualified. As a reporter for Washington's WRC-TV in the 1980s, she won an Emmy and an AP prize. She covered the Pentagon as an NBC correspondent. (See here.) True, Bob Schiffer, who will leave as interim anchor at CBS, has a lot more experience. Before taking the Evening News, he was chief Washington correspondent for CBS and host of Face the Nation.(See here.) Carr and others must be suffering from short-term memory loss. The doors haven't been open to Couric and other female reporters for very long. She'll be the first woman to anchor one of the "big three" news broadcasts solo. Even the Today show didn't have a female co-host until 1974, with Barbara Walters. (See here.)

Couric, like the "first" of anything, won't have an easy road ahead of her, as she tries to balance what people want in a female reporter(perkiness and good looks) with her skills and talents as a broadcaster. But, Carr and the cartoonists are being unfair. Maybe Little Richard was right. Sometimes, the girl(or,in this case, gal) just can't help it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insightful post--and a lot of the opposition to Couric's filling that position is motivated by nothing more than her critics' jealousy or insecurity or both.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Amy Allen said...

Thanks. I agree. Broadcasting people, like those in show business, are always turning on their own.

10:46 PM  

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