Katie Finally Gets to Sleep In…

September 7th, 2006 | Posted in General

After all the hoola surrounding Katie Couric yesterday, I got the bug to draw her and did this quick sketch last night while endlessly printing out Anna’s birthday invitations.

couric.jpg

I might have to turn it into a park sample if she survives in her new job doing the CBS Evening News. She has a great face??ᬨ‚Ćfor caricature. Unusually sharp features for a woman, with an enormous toothy and gum-filled mouth that is quite crooked when it’s a real smile and not the publicity shot version. She has quite an under bite to the right also. Very thin lips, and her eyelashes stick out at all angles from both corners of her eyes. Lots of fun stuff to play with.

I am certainly not exaggerating about Couric getting a lot of attention yesterday. She was a major topic on talk radio, that’s for sure. I heard several reviews of her first performance as the new CBS anchor, ranging from reasonably positive to scathing. The New York Post’s Andrea Peyser had this opinion on Katie’s debut, where she claimed Couric looked “like a little girl who had to go potty”, and it went downhill from there. I feel a little guilty linking to it because it’s a piece of garbage, but train wrecks are often hard not to look at. Her column sounds like sour grapes to me. Some others I heard were more constructive??ᬨ‚Ćand had??ᬨ‚Ćsome valid observations, while others actually complained about superficial things like her hairdo and her wardrobe, saying things like she broke the cardinal rule of “no white after Labor Day”. Please.

Personally I have no opinion about Katie and the evening news, because I have never watched the evening network news. Ever. I’ve always gotten my news from the newspapers in the morning, and from the late local news at 10:00 if I watch TV news at all. I much prefer reading the news, as there is just so much more information there than you get with TV news. Plus, the fluff pieces in the newspaper are easy to skip over, while you have to sit through them for the things you actually care about on the TV news. Do people still watch the evening news? Is it still a ritual for the blue collar American to come home after work and watch the network news at 5:30 (or 6:30 in some time zones) before dinner? That seems like a very 60’s thing to me. I have no statistics, but it was never a practice in my family. Somebody must watch it, because otherwise there would not be the amazing stir of opinion on something like the changing of an anchor.

Getting back to Katie, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. I understand she’s the first female full-time anchor of a network broadcast, but didn’t Diane Sawyer and Connie Chung do a significant amount of anchor work for many years? I think it’s fine that a woman has the permanent job, but it just doesn’t seem that groundbreaking to me. I certainly don’t get why she is under such a microscope. The woman has a very long resume in front of the camera, and it seems to me the reading of 1/2 hour of straight news would be a walk in the park next to all the interviews, outside spots and cooking segments she had to try and make interesting all those years on the Today show. She didn’t just interview entertainers pimping their latest movie/show/record either. I seem to recall she did some serious interviews once or twice.

One of the points many people were trying to make about why she doesn’t deserve the spot is that she has no background in hard reporting. I know Jennings had a lot, and that Brokaw as some, but I fail to understand what difference that makes. It’s not like the anchors are out there searching for stories and tracking down quotes and facts. They sit on their rear ends under 6 pounds of makeup and read from a teleprompter. If they can look appropriately concerned and appropriately amused at the right times, and of course read without the obligatory “uhhhh….”, they’ve got it in the bag. Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, but my point is it’s TV presence and a believable personality an anchor needs, not dirt under their fingernails from years of digging up stories. Ted Knight’s Ted Baxter from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and more recently Will Ferrell’s “Ron Burgundy” were caricatures of the deep voiced talking head anchor (Knight was better), but how far away was their satire from the real world? It’s nice to think someone earned their way to success through the trenches… that’s the American Way (or it used to be), but how realistic is that? How many people who possess the charisma, personality skills and, let’s face it, the looks end up also having the tools a hard nosed reporter needs to possess to make it in their field. I cannot imagine Christiane Amanpour anchoring a TV news broadcast.

I’m sure Katie will do just fine in the anchor spot. She has good TV presence, and also possesses that genuine quality that makes people comfortable, and that is what an anchor is really all about, isn’t it? Besides, maybe she’ll lose that haggard look now that she gets to sleep in every day. I used to catch part of the Today Show every once and awhile, and Katie always looked like she’d gotten up at 3:30 AM. Plus her legs were so stringy and hard looking they looked like something out of Body Worlds. Sorry… we caricaturists focus on the superficial by habit.

Comments

  1. mengblom says:

    You asked “Do people still watch the evening news?”

    The answer is a resounding “no”. As with newspaper readership, TV news viewership has been on a steep decline for years, and has accelerated the past few years. There are many reasons to blame for this, chief among them are:

    1. The surge of “new media”, alternate channels of information dissemination that bypass the traditional “gatekeepers” of information (newspapers and TV news). The new media includes many excellent journalistic blog sites, certain talk radio shows and new publishing wings that explore subjects the “non-biased” media powerbrokers don’t want to talk about.

    2. For people who still feel the need to watch TV news (usually people over a certain age), there are a dozens of different sources (and times) to get that news from than the antiquated “three network” source. News anchors on those networks no longer enjoy the paternalistic status and authority guys like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley enjoyed many decades ago.

    3. The well-documented dishonesty and agenda-driven journalism that has come to light over the past several years (much of which was exposed by the aforementioned new media sources) has resulted in many people simply not trusting the information they hear from the reliable old “dinosaur media”. They’ve been caught massaging, omitting, distorting and (sometimes) alterning the news so many times, the trust level they once enjoyed under “Uncle Walter” has long since evaporated.

    4. TV news has spent increasing amounts of air time covering non-events or “fluff pieces”. Whether it’s the warm, fuzzy community events, the idiot reporter standing out in the hurricane telling us it’s really windy, or the inane “happy talk” banter between the news “personalities”, so much of the broadcasts are anything but “news”. It’s shallow pablum spoonfed to viewers they obviously view as easy-to-please children.

    So….no, people no longer watch the evening news. For good reason.

    Prediction: After an initial boost in ratings, Katie’s CBS News ratings will sag back down to its previous pathetic levels. The idea that people still need their news paired with a specific personality (in this case the Grinning Homunculus) is a pathetic notion from an outdated age.

    PS: Great caricature, by the way.

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