Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Katie Couric's Replacement: Harry Smith? CBS Can Do Better

Richard Huff writes in today’s Daily News that it doesn’t matter much who takes over for Katie Couric if her contract at the CBS Evening News is not renewed, that a canteloupe could replace her and ratings would not change precipitously.

He lists a number of potential ho-hum replacements like Harry Smith (zzzzz), Jeff Glor and Lara Logan.

I say a stand-out replacement could put CBS ahead of the pack.  CBS News could really benefit from an individual who could bring something new to the anchor desk besides the typical good looks, news reading and occasional location reports and big interviews.

Anderson Cooper would be huge.  He could bring the world to people’s living rooms.  With his intrepid style and his single-minded devotion to his job, Cooper would be the anchorperson of the 21st century.  Plus, he's already a contributor to "60 Minutes."

George Stephanopoulos isn’t as adventurous, but he does know everyone and has the requisite insider’s knowledge of national and world situations.  I’ll bet he’s itching to get away from the cooking segments and movie promotion required for his current gig at ABC’s Good Morning America.

Christiane Amanpour is another candidate with muscle.  She has the international chops, but she’s less well known and is probably less likely to be welcomed by a mass audience due to her foreign accent developed during her childhood in Iran and schooling in England.  On the other hand, she’s fluent in Persian and French, which gives her some gravitas. 

And how about Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman who is now the moderate host of his own political talk show, “Morning Joe” on MSNBC?  In his few years at the program, Scarborough has proven his knowledge of events and issues and seems to move from topic to topic with ease.  The list of people in his circle of influence has grown exponentially and he also would bring a new dimension to the role because he’s not afraid to discard old conventions and start something new.  “Morning Joe” is the most novel talk show on television because it's free form yet intellectual.

My first choice would be Cooper, by far, but I think the list mentioned by Huff is not ambitious enough for a news operation with the history of CBS News.  The program needs someone with oomph.

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