Monday, April 07, 2008

The logical conclusion of CBS News

It was evident when CBS News decided to replace Bob Schieffer with Katie Couric that the people running the division did not want to be in the news business.

They wanted to attract a different audience. A wider audience. An audience of people who weren't watching news broadcasts because they don't like news broadcasts.

We predicted at the time [See "Bob Schieffer's elegant exit"] that instead of expanding the audience, CBS would lose everybody.

And when the budget skyrocketed and the ratings fell, we observed Katie Couric's great skill at distancing herself from the blame [See "The coming bloodbath at CBS News"].

Now the New York Times reports that CBS News president Sean McManus is in talks with CNN news group president Jim Walton about "a deal to outsource some of [CBS'] news-gathering operations to CNN."

This raises an obvious question: If the executives at CBS don't like the news business, why don't they just get out of the news business? Why don't they broadcast a nightly show about dancing celebrities who design high-fashion clothes on an island with Donald Trump?

No, no, no, that's not necessary, there's no reason for any of the news executives to lose their jobs.

The network will simply "cut costs while maintaining the CBS News brand, although in a much trimmed-down fashion," the New York Times reports.

CBS is paying Katie Couric $15 million a year, and she is going to sit in the anchor chair and look serious until her contract runs out.

Because nobody at CBS is going to admit that it was a mistake to kick Bob Schieffer to the curb after his ratings actually increased during the time he anchored the nightly broadcast.

And nobody at CBS is going to admit that it was a mistake to let John Roberts get away and go to work at CNN.

Instead, CBS is going to negotiate a deal that will end with the network's miscast anchor reading lead-ins to John Roberts' CNN reports.

Here's some free advice for Bob Schieffer: Set up a webcam at your kitchen table and upload a daily newscast to YouTube, where you can draw the younger viewers and have the last laugh.

See you on the Internet. Drop me a note at and say hi when you get here.

Copyright 2008