Why, or at least the CBS Explanation of Why, Couric Wasn't in the Chair for Osama Sunday Night
When news breaks in a big way, it's always a parlor game for media dweebs to see who's on the air where and when.
And so it was on Sunday night, when Osama lost out to Obama in a big way. Brian Williams was the only Big Three anchor in the chair when the networks started interrupting our regularly scheduled programming around 10:45.
Given that it used to be my former home away from home, I wondered where Katie Couric might have been, as I watched the eminently capable Russ Mitchell (the regular Sunday night anchor), QB the coverage before and after the president with his usual aplomb.
Nonetheless, that still begged the question of where was Couric. Never mind that she's on her way out. She was still in. But not on Sunday night. Broadcast & Cable put the Katie question to CBS News prexy David Rhodes. His response.
Russ [Mitchell] is the weekend anchor and was on the shortest string, so he had been in, he was suited up, so to speak. Events unfolded very fast. What the real strength last night for us was the Washington and national security coverage. We had Lara Logan, Bob Orr, Juan Zerate all part of the coverage because they were the ones pursuing this. It was basically a very tight timetable and we were able to get on the field with a very, very good team.
Was she still traveling back from London at that point, or she just wasn't able to get in in time?
It doesn't really matter if she was able to get in or not able to get in. The thing that we were most concerned with as an organization was having the reporting that we had in there last night. If you look back from 10:45 up until the president did speak later in the 11 p.m. hour, we had more people on the story and more information about what was happening out there than anybody else.
Actually, it does matter. And Rhodes knows that. There's no way he would've spoken like that if Couric wasn't a lame duck. Answering the way he did gives the impression that she was indeed in New York, but they couldn't track her down or she didn't pick up the phone. That's not to say either of those scenarios is incorrect, but his response can turn perception into reality. Always better to say something than nothing.