(Editor’s note: This is a bit of a departure for me. Read it through, though. Funny. Quite funny.)
Copyright The Des Moines Register
July 13, 2007
Katie Couric needs our help.
Since she took over the anchor chair of the “CBS Evening News” last September, viewership has plunged to the point where only her immediate family and Bob Schieffer watch. (He’s still hoping to get the job back.)
This is not good.
“I have days when I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what did I do?’ Couric told New York magazine.
I assume they failed to include the rest of the quote: “And then I have other days when I’m like, ‘I signed a long-term contract for $15 million a year. That’s what I did.'”
The magazine also reported that Couric became so upset with a news editor that she slapped him repeatedly on the arm. His sin: He had used the word “sputum” in a story.
For the record, here are other words she dislikes: “Nielsen,” “ratings,” “perky,” “pay cut,” “Meredith Vieira,” “Brian Williams,” and “nose rocket.”
I’m with her on “sputum.” First of all, it’s difficult to pronounce. Do you go with “sput” as in “Sputnik,” or “sput” as in “spud,” or “sput” as in “spewt?”
The other thing is, I can think of no occasion in which the word “sputum” has appeared in a news story that contained the slightest bit of good news. You never see, “The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to researchers at the University of Iowa who figured out the correct pronunciation of the word, ‘sputum.'”
Now that I know that I’m unlikely to hear the word “sputum” on the “CBS Evening News,” Couric can count on me to watch, if I’m home at 5:30 p.m., and if, for some strange reason, I haven’t already heard the news on CNN, FOX or MSNBC.
“The biggest mistake we made is we tried new things,” Couric told New York magazine.
She couldn’t be more wrong. The biggest mistake they made is not giving viewers what they want. Such as:
1. Puppies. People love puppies. Now that Bob Barker has retired, Katie should hold a puppy during the broadcast, then remind viewers to get their pets spayed and neutered. Although she might want to just stick with “neutered.” “Spayed” comes dangerously close to sounding like that other word she detests. By the way, “Sputum” would be a great dog’s name.
2. Celebrity gossip. We can’t get enough. Did you see that Madonna recently required reporters to maintain eye contact “at all times” during interviews, even banning them from looking at their notes?
Obviously, Madonna has figured out a way to hypnotize people to keep them obsessed with her career. Reporters are no longer able to see their questions, such as, “Why am I wasting my time talking to you?”
Here’s a ratings winner: Katie should challenge Madonna to a stare down.
3. Missing white women. Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren have built their careers on this. During those rare weeks when there are no missing white women, our Katie could set up a sting to catch Internet predators. There’s apparently no shortage of them, either.
4. Make “YouTube” your friend. You might think that Americans would tire of seeing squirrels skateboarding. You would be wrong.
5. More slapping. The most attention Couric has received in six months is the revelation that she slapped her news editor. I think she’s on to something.
Admit it, how many times have you wanted to reach into the television and whack the person inside?
Imagine: A White House spokesman is invited on to the “CBS Evening News” set to be interviewed. The instant he begins defending President Bush, Couric says, “Wait a minute!” and reaches under her desk, where she pulls out one of those giant bats that Bamm-Bamm carried on “The Flintstones.” She then proceeds to smack the tar out of him.
Make it a plastic bat. You wouldn’t want the puppies getting hurt.
“Watch Katie Couric Whack Somebody.”
Let’s see Charlie Gibson compete with that.
Reporter Ken Fuson’s column runs on Friday. He can be reached at (515) 284-8501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.