Why CBS Chose the Wrong Guy to Replace Katie Couric

  • 5comments

CBS has named the Katie Couric successor who will anchor the CBS Evening News, and it’s [drumroll] … Scott Pelley. Who? Exactly.

Well, you probably know who, even if you don’t exactly know why. Pelley is a company man. He's been with CBS News 21 years, and with 60 Minutes II (did you realize you were watching a sequel?) since its debut in 1999. He’s done many interesting reports for them! But Mr. Personality, he ain’t. The original 60 Minutes crew—Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace—these guys were the dream team, each quirky, larger-than-life, and brilliant in their own peculiar way. But Pelley just seems to recede into the background of whatever he’s reporting on. His bland good looks, his radio baritone, his lockjaw delivery—nothing particularly pops about this guy.

For CBS brass, this must have seemed like a logical choice. Promoting from the inside, while working against that “out-of-the-box” strategy that led to the Couric disappointment. But they are making a huge mistake! No one is going to watch CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley—except for your great-grandmother, and that’s because she lost her remote (you know, the kind that attaches to the TV with a cord) back in the late ‘70s and has been mostly content with having her boob-tube-credenza locked to the Tiffany Network ever since.

But everyone else is going to abandon the broadcast in droves! Let’s face it: The nightly news feels like a complete relic as it is. But at least NBC and ABC are clued-in to the fact that anchors have to exude a certain rock star sex appeal. So you have Brian Williams, who spends as much time sitcom- and talk show-hopping as he does reading news copy. And then you have Diane Sawyer, who I like to imagine asks her makeup person, “Do you have any lipstick that’s wetter and redder? No? How about just wetter?” before purring the news to us like we’re a kindergarten class gathered on a shag rug for story time.

Just about anyone else would have been a better choice. For example:


The Judges from NBC’s The Voice
Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, and the Country Dude will sit with their backs to us. Every time a news story that interests them comes across the wire, they'll hit a button, spinning their command chairs around—at which point they’d have to fight over who gets to mentor “Syrian Uprisings Intensify.” Probably won’t happen, since they work for a competing network.

Larry King and Billie Jean King
In a monumental pairing billed as The CBS All-King News Hour: Battle of the Sexes, two beloved cultural icons square off reading the day’s headlines. Only one can win.

Tim Gunn
The dapper motivator of Project Runway, Tim Gunn could bring two new things to the nightly news: good fashion sense and a constant reminder to use wisely from the Piperlime Accessories Wall.

Katie Couric
A little older, a little wiser, a little...CBS Evening News. Try her again...for the very first time.

Like TV.com on Facebook