IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2006
My Favorite Video Blogs
(for others, see Links page)
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Olbermann on 9/11
New on My
Support liberty and justice for all
Cost of the War in Iraq
KATIE vs. MEREDITH
15 September 2006
I don't remember if I actually watched Dave Garroway when The Today Show started, or if my memories of him with J. Fred Muggs, the chimpanzee co-host, come from taped retrospectives. But I know that I had become a regular watcher of The Today Show during the the reign of Hugh Downs, who took over the show in 1962. So I've been a loyal fan of the show, off and on, for some 40 years.
Whew...am I old.
I probably didn't watch regularly all those years, but by the time that Bryant Gumble and Jane Pauley were the co-anchors (Gumble took over in 1982), I was pretty settled into having The Today Show in my morning routine.
I remember the brouhaha when Jane Pauley was replaced by Deborah Norville for a short-lived stint in 1990. The "firing" of Pauley caused such negative ripples among the viewers that Norville didn't have a chance from the getgo. I hated her because she wasn't Jane Pauley, whom I had very much enjoyed, and so, apparently, did everyone else because she didn't last a year and Katie Couric was brought in in 1991.
I loved Katie Couric from the beginning. I know there are those who never liked her, but she was the real spark of the show for me. I wasn't that crazy about her co-anchoring with Bryant Gumble, but when Gumble left and Matt Lauer came on, the show just gelled.
For some 10 years, I've been waking up to Katie, Matt, Al and Ann. When you share with someone the death of a family member (Katie's husband, Jay Monahan) and get invited to share her colonoscopy, you feel like part of the family! So it was really like hearing about a divorce when Katie Couric announced she was leaving The Today Show to take over as the news anchor of the CBS Evening News.
I had not watched Meredith Vierra much. I'd seen The View a few times, and it didn't really grab me and by the time Regis Philbin left Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Vierra took over, I was pretty tired of that show, so never followed Vierra into the daytime game show world.
These were the big two weeks. Katie's first news broadcast and Meredith's debut on The Today Show.
My personal choice of network news has been NBC for a long time, ever since Huntley and Brinkley headed the airwaves. I never even watched Uncle Walter when he was doing the news. Each time a new NBC anchor took over, I was eased in by that person filling in for the retiring anchor, so I had no problem adjusting to Brian Williams after Tom Brokaw's retirement.
I remember Williams' farewell good luck to Katie Couric, saying that he had no doubt that a year from now she would be solidly in the #2 place as host of a nightly news broadcast. Funny line from the guy in the #1 slot.
Reluctantly, I tuned in the CBS nightly news on her first night. I had to watch Katie, though I really enjoy Brian Williams. Something was "off." I couldn't put my finger on it. I hated the way they've structured the news. I don't like their "free speech" segment (must I be forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh spout off?). The "snapshot" segment was cute (Baby Suri's first pictures), but it seemed that "news" was getting truncated for the fluff. I didn't want fluff in the nightly news. I wanted more in-depth investigations.
I missed her second night on the air because we were out of town, but I watched the rest of the week. It was a bit better than the first night, but there was still that intangible "thing" that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
Today was Meredith Vierra's first day on The Today Show (and I must say that I may never again write a column about "Meredith." I once worked for a doctor whose daughter was named Meredith and for some reason my fingers simply WILL not type that name. It always comes out as Meredity and I have to go back and correct it. My fingers also have problems typing "computer" too and it more often than not comes out "compouter" so often that I have a macro in WordPerfect that converts "compouter" into "computer.")
But I digress.
I wondered how I'd adjust to Vierra being in the #2 chair on The Today Show. They say that someone who follows a very popular person has a short-lived job and that it's the second person who ends up keeping the job...like Norville following Pauley and then Couric getting the job.
But Meredith Vierra was great. She fit into the show like she'd been doing it all her life.
I watched her doing news segments and I watched her doing fluff pieces and I finally realized what was missing in Katie Couric's nightly news.
I know that Katie Couric can be a hard news person, that she can ask the difficult questions, that she can disarm people with her "perky" (I know she hates that term) personality and get them to answer her, but in all the years she was on The Today Show, her hard news segments were the ones I liked least. I loved her "fluff" pieces, the chemistry between her and Matt Lauer, and all the "other" stuff that made up the show. Her news pieces were OK, but that wasn't what I watched her for.
So I think that it is easier for Meredith Vierra to fill Katie Couric's seat than it is for Katie Couric to lead a nightly news broadcast. I guiltily admit to having turned her off and gone back to Brian Williams last night. I heard someone talking about the ratings and apparently I am not the only one who is turning off Katie Couric's nightly news. Which saddens me because I really want her to make a success of it. I just don't want to have to watch her do it.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is Journal entry #2360