Well, Les, I tried to tell you…

Dear Mr. Moonves,

It has come to my sad attention that your CBS Evening News broadcast is limping toward irrelevancy, seemingly mired in third place. To date the Great Katie Experiment of 2006 looks to have come a stinker.

A shame. You spent a great deal of money hyping your new anchor, and tweaked the show in interesting – at times commendable – fashion. The experiment with freeSpeech, while fraught with all the division and reactionary angst one can expect from viewers in these divided and reactionary times, was a worthwhile one. A good idea poorly implimented, it could yet contribute some useful dialogue to the nation, if you can remember to turn those vaulable seconds over to less exalted folk than Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama.

In this Christmas season of charity and kindness, I will resist the temptation to say “I told you so,” and to remind you that I several times laid out to you viable alternatives to Couric – oh, screw all this politeness! Hell, Moonves, I begged you to consider lesser known “stars,” newspeople whom CBS could groom and promote and raise as your own.

If CBS had taken on Lester Holt or Dehlia Gallagher, and hyped either of them up as you did Couric, you’d had created the same marketing “curiousity” and would have gotten a first week’s great numbers, just as Couric did – and yeah, the same little immediate drop off – but you could have built something from that. People like what’s new and different, what they do not already know. Either one of my suggestions would have brought personal charisma by the busload, the “non-white male” factor, appeal to younger people – both male and female – and CBS could have made it’s own little “in-house star” and talked about how it was the serious news network, rebuilding its crumbling and aged House of Tiffany brick by sturdy (not shiny) new brick. Gallagher, in particular, with her writing chops, could have brought real gravitas to the show, instead of sparkle. Men love her. Women want to be her.

Instead, you brought on Couric, who might be perfectly nice and perfectly capable, but she already had half the country hating (or at least distrusting) her and is a very much KNOWN entity. And therein is a huge problem – the reason even stealing Diane Sawyer from ABC might not have worked: network news broadcasts are suffocating from same-ness. We see the same faces, all the time, from network to network, news show to news show and it’s all starting to feel vaguely like a trip to Salt Lake City; everyone looks the same, everyone hails from the same place, everyone thinks, speaks and acts the same, everyone talks the same talk (even down to using the same words) and everyone works in the same studios – ad nauseum – until the whole enterprise called “televised news” has taken on a slighty incestuous and ughy feel.

The broadcast media is like the democrat party – it’s the same damn faces, over and over again, year after year, network to network. The Democrats won the last election and immediately sprang up all the same faces we’ve seen for decades. Now we have Hillary trotting out the same tired book and the same tired rhetoric…John Kerry doing his same schpiels

No wonder Obama is making such a splash within that party – he is the ONLY new face they’ve shown in 25 years and I think his very freshness and newness – the idea of something new – is helping him get himself known. His “new” face is – for now – his most powerful marketing tool, and he’s got everyone looking and listening early, and some are staying – for various reasons – which means he’s building something that could end up being a mansion among row-houses.

You could have had that, too. Something fresh, not tired – something that promised “an abundance of hope” or at least a lengthy springtime of newness against a competition nearly moribund with factory-esque sameness.

You know, just because I’m some housewife on Long Island doesn’t mean I don’t know anything. You should step outside your insulated little Upper West Side conclave sometime and talk to the “real” people toward whom you are supposedly trying to sell your programming. What you would be hearing is not, “oh, Gawd, Katie Couric reading the nightly news, I’m so excited I could pee myself!” You’d be hearing, “who else you got, warming up in the wings? Got anything, anyone NEW? Hello, we’re BORED over here!”

Unless of course – as I’ve long suspected – you’re not actually gearing your programming toward us “ordinary viewers” at all, but toward your friends in the industry and in politics and the academy.

In which case, the hell with ya. Me and my good advice will go elsewhere. And not – as you, in you in your knee-jerk, stereotyping way might think – to your hyper-active, negative-attention-seeking cousins and their bubble-lipped, mud-wrestling-babe anchors on FOX News. No, we’ll just go away. Far, far away. Into the blogosphere into which you cannot ever fully follow. Merry Christmas.

Miss ya, Moonves! Mean it!

Related:
Katie Couric’s Notebook Gets Unhelpfully Bleak
Couric’s Notebook Goes Classical Liberal

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • cold pizza

    Anchoress, no disrepesct intended, but Salt Lake City is a whole lot more multicultural and interesting than network news. It’s no longer just starched white shirts with nametags anymore. And while it’s not LA, NY, DC or SF, SLC (and environs) still make a nice place to settle down and raise a family (speaking as one who has travelled the height and depth and breadth of the USA). We even have opera. -cp

  • COgirl

    Fresh, unbiased news coverage will go a long way too. But MSM insists that they know what we want to hear. The other interesting thing is this:

    “Compared with the same week a year ago, NBC is down 10 percent in total viewers and 17 percent in the demo. ABC is down 2 and 9 percent, and CBS, 5 and 12 percent.”

    Isn’t this sort of like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic? You can be first but the whole ship is going down.

  • FARRWESTMOM

    OUCH!!! I hope you feel better getting that off your chest. I always wondered what a clone felt like, now I guess I do know. Having spent some years in SLC I guess I’m just plain boring and just like everyone else. funny I always thought of myself as a unique individual, with my own sense of style and so did everyone else, guess not. as for the news you are spot on. it is boring and they all do look and act and say the exact same thing, I don’t even watch the local news anymore except for the weather. My family and I caught them all in a big lie a few years back and don’t trust them as far as you could throw a stick. everything and I mean everything is taken with a grain, no make that a bag full, of salt. They Lie, even about the local stuff.

  • http://thecityofgod.blogspot.com/ Rick Lugari

    …and their bubble-lipped, mud-wrestling-babe anchors on FOX News.

    And you say it like it’s a bad thing…
    ;)

  • http://mutnodjmetsmusings.blogspot.com/ Mutnodjmet

    Anchoress: Your charity toward Katie is admirable. However, weak mortal that I am, I must admit to having a big case of schadenfreude. I loathe all things pertaining to cBS News since RatherGate. Frankly, only a sound recommendation from you (based on the comments above concerning Dehlia Gallagher) would compel me to view any news item from that channel.


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