29 August 2007

Private Benjamin: CBS sending Couric to Iraq, Syria

File Under: Death, War, Shameless, Gratuitous, Danger, CBS

One year after Couric jumped from NBC's "Today" to CBS in a big-money talent deal, the "Evening News" anchor is embarking on a high-risk tour of Iraq and Syria to revive the broadcast. I mean really, what better way to resuscitate anchors career by throwing them in the eye of the tornado, right? Talk about gettin' gravitas the hard way! Geez Louise.

The announcement came just days after an Iraqi translator working for CBS was killed in Baghdad. CBS said the translator had been found dead following his abduction just hours after leaving work at CBS News' Baghdad bureau. Well, all right! Sign me up!

Katie has never been to Iraq, and she will be the second of the big three anchors, following NBC's Brian Williams last spring, to venture to the region since ABC News' Bob Woodruff was nearly killed by an IED attack on his convoy outside Baghdad in early 2006.

While CBS execs SWEAR the 12-day trip isn't a relaunch of the newscast, it comes the week after Labour Day, when the TV season begins and evening viewership increases. Hmmmmm.

Back in the day Katie

Serious journalist Katie

The Pentagon has advised CBS News to keep details of Couric's itinerary vague, but she will co-anchor "Evening News" live from both Iraq and Syria next week after several days spent reporting in the field.

Anchor travel is expensive and in this case dangerous. News organisations do it to goose ratings, draw attention to the story or the newscaster, or secure higher-profile interviews than a correspondent could.

Variety notes that "CBS News has an able correspondent in Iraq, Lara Logan, whom it has worked to elevate in stature over the past few years, raising the question of why take the risk of sending a high-value target such as Couric, a single mother of two."

That is true. Though also we think that when Brian Williams went to Iraq they probably didn't mention that he and his lovely wife Jane have two kids, so maybe there is something to this whole sexism thing.

Anyway, come back in at least two pieces, Katie! The benefit circuit, your massive staff and your publicists depend on you!

from Gawker: "Now that Hamptons season is nearly over, Katie Couric is ready to leave for Iraq on a trip that's all about the journalism. You will take her so seriously. You will tune in every night! She is not fluffy, she is totally surrounded by serious things like people getting arms blown off every hour!"

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