The announcement today by Katie Couric that she’s leaving NBC was shocking, but apparently more shocking was the announcement that she would be anchoring the CBS Evening News. Already, critics are saying Katie hasn’t the experience to handle the job. Frankly, I think they’re crazy.
The woman has moxie. She took a job with the highest-rated morning show and blossomed before our eyes. Some of us grew up with her, only she did her growing up on camera. Her open, unassuming and always beautiful look is often mistaken for someone with no training nor ability to go for the jugular. She can easily disspell those erroneous thoughts with one hard-core interview. She may have started out slowly, but this woman has gained major ground as a serious journalist.
Katie is no slouch. She can interview with the best of them, oftentimes cornering an interview subject like a bulldog cornering a cat. She has a girl-next-door personality, but that belies her journalistic skill, which is how she can catch an interview subject off-guard so easily. And just as easily, she can sympathize with her interview subject, or the story itself. She cares and it’s genuine. She makes us want to care just as much. That’s talent. That’s the sign of a true professional.
Yet not all agree. While some argue her lack of correspondent experience, others point to inane and insidious excuses why Katie’s not the girl for the job. I was appalled to hear one of my favorite talking heads, Bill Maher, complain that Katie’s too old. Excuse me? Did anyone accuse crusty old Dan Rather he was too old? What about Walter Cronkite, who is much beloved, but not exactly in his thirties? To use that sexist, demeaning excuse is to show real prejudice, and to point out yet again that sex discrimination and chauvanism are alive and thriving. If Katie were a man, her age would be her badge of honor. Alas, she was born into the wrong gender and must forever suffer the fading-beauty syndrome that haunts women everywhere.
I’ve been a Katie Couric fan since her debut on the Today show. I’ve watched her with both professional curiosity and personal admiration. She went where many of us women have tried so hard to go–right through the glass ceiling. Yet darned if there wasn’t another one just above that one. It seems that Katie, despite her impeccable resume and her stature as the longest running host of a morning show, is doomed to be judged like every other woman–through her looks and her gender. It’s a shame. The woman has talent dripping from her pores, yet all the men notice is her pores are accompanied by a few wrinkles. What a pity for them.
I say to Katie: Keep breaking new ground. And keep cashing those checks. Living well is the best revenge.