Katie Couric will leave the "CBS Evening News," The Associated Press is reporting this morning. Citing an unnamed exec, this is what the report says pretty much in its entirety:
A network executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Couric has not officially announced her plans, reported the move to The Associated Press on Sunday night. The 54-year-old anchor is expected to launch a syndicated talk show in 2012 and several companies are vying for her services.
And so that's it? Well, not quite. Couric could end up in a syndicated talk show with CBS. Katie is back from vacation this morning, and obviously both she and CBS will make a formal statement shortly. This is not a surprise, though as recently as three months ago, a decision could have gone either way. The "EN" numbers are not strong, and have remained anemic throughout her five-year run. But CBS chief Leslie Moonves sought to keep her in the role, nevertheless. A decison was fully expected to be made by the new chairman of CBS News, Jefff Fager, who was believed to be less enthusiastic about a continued tenure.
Couric's role at "EN" hasn't been remotely disastrous, and there have been a few brief and fleeting triumphs. But her problems were not just the refusal of most viewers to accept her as a successor to Dan Rather, but the refusal of most viewers to watch "Evening News." Rather, too, struggled, and the only anchor who actually got the broadcast into a comfort zone for the nightly news viewer was Bob Schieffer.
Her successor? Probably "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley who has been rumored almost from the moment the Katie's-out stories first began circulating back in '07. But don't be surprised by . . . a surprise. CBS is relinquishing a once-vaunted attempt to remake the broadcast; it'll almost certainly return to the future but may return with something a little different as well.
Couric's up in June, so the assumption for now is that that's when a switch occurs. But don't make any assumptions either. CBS -- and Couric -- may want to move on the change much sooner.