Monday, May 14, 2007

What Katie and Hillary Have in Common

Last week a reporter called me to talk about why Hillary is such a polarizing figure, especially among women. And now, turns out, Katie Couric is too - or at least, among viewers male and female, according to a New York Times article today:
[A] recent Gallup poll reinforced the notion that Ms. Couric had become a polarizing figure: 29 percent of respondents said that they did not like her, as opposed to 51 percent who said that they liked her. (Her competitors at ABC and NBC both had negative scores under 20 percent and positives around 60.)

Not surprising of course that Couric has endured exceptional personal scrutiny:

She was criticized for wearing too much makeup or too little....She was criticized for being too soft in her initial newscasts, and too hard in an interview with the presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, after they revealed that Mrs. Edwards’s cancer had returned.

So here comes CBS president Sean McManus, weighing in:

“Maybe we underestimate the huge shift this represented,” Mr. McManus said. “It was almost a watershed event to have a woman in that chair.” He added, “There is a percentage of people out there that probably prefers not to get their news from a woman.”

Watershed indeed. And maybe if there were MORE women delivering hard news across the networks and on the air, Katie wouldn't have to represent everything to everyone. Kind of like Hillary, you might say.

PS. On a generational sidenote, Couric's ratings, while still usually third after ABC and NBC, are most competitive among younger women. Guess we're ready to get our news from a girl.

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