Wednesday, September 06, 2006


We wouldn't have missed it for the world. We got a flat tire is all.

OLDNEW AGE. Sadly, we have to rely on all the other illustrious critics who tuned in to watch Katie Couric do her first reading of the CBS Evening News. We can only imagine that it was like some Busby Berkeley spectacle, a kind of visiual and aural symphony set off by the pure white of Katie's pristine suit. Of course, the Old White Guys of the MSM were determined not to be impressed -- Tom Shales, for example:

No News Not the Best News For Katie Couric's Debut

By Tom Shales
Wednesday, September 6, 2006; C01

Atitle change would seem to be in order. Maybe "The CBS Evening No-News." Or "The CBS Evening Magazine." Or "30 Minutes."

Whatever it was, Katie Couric did a brisk, engaging job of getting the strange new show off the ground last night as, at long last -- and after one of the most relentless hype hurricanes in history -- she debuted as the first woman to be solo anchor of a major network newscast. K-Day had come at last!

Couric occupied a chair that once belonged to Walter Cronkite and, later, Dan Rather, both of whom did newscasts that were much, much newsier. Yesterday, though, was apparently a no-news day in the opinion of Executive Producer Rome Hartman, the staff and Couric herself, since the half-hour began with a "60 Minutes"-style piece on the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The real purpose of this report was to show off Lara Logan, the intensely telegenic reporter who serves as foreign correspondent. She went undercover in Afghanistan, much as Rather had done many many years ago. But as a woman, Logan said, her Taliban hosts "insisted I cover everything but my eyes."

The story was in fact largely about her -- about how dangerous it was to do the story, about what a big, "unprecedented" exclusive it was (Brian Ross seemed to have much the same story on ABC's "World News Tonight" with Charles Gibson) and how she had to tippy-toe away from the camp through a minefield, led by a guide.

You know, it's not always about the reviewer. Sometimes it's about the beautiful new anchor person. We're not trying to be rude to Mr. Shales, but we think we detect a sort of obsession here that's getting in the way of his appreciation for the sexiest Walter Cronkite fill-in we've had yet. Do we really have to make a detour to understand Tom Shales's neurosis? We suppose so. Here it is.

Tom and Lara. Clark Kent's first love was Lana Lang... Geez.

Too bad. We wanted this to be a bouquet -- all about how special it was to have the news read to us by a warm, caring, wonderful, people-like person for a change. Thankfully, we still have Connie Chung to call on, the most qualified person of all, because she actually tried to be an anchor person alongside one of the traditional CBS anchor idols some years ago. Here's what she said:

"She looked like she had been doing the CBS Evening News for 25 years," said Chung, who spent some time Tuesday at a small party held for Couric by family and old friends at a New York hotel after the newscast.

"Particularly after Labor Day weekend ... there's not as much going on," noted Chung, who shared the CBS anchor desk with Dan Rather from 1993 to 1995. "I'm hoping critics and viewers give her as much time as they have given other evening news anchors and judge her broadcast accordingly."

Hear, hear. We know we've given them both a lot of time, and that's why we'll close with a reminder of the fact that we saw Couric and Chung as part of the same unblinking news team way back in 1999. When you go here, toggle to full screen and enjoy the caring we always knew both these these objective newswomen had even before there was a George W. Bush to test it.

The new, warm, caring CBS Evening News Team. We're all gonna love it.

You see, we're the smart ones.

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