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Who Will Replace Katie Couric on the 'CBS Evening News'?

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 4th 2011 1:30PM
Katie CouricIn what could be the least-surprising news we've heard this year, the A.P. found out from their sources over the weekend that Katie Couric is going to be leaving the 'CBS Evening News' this year to start her own daytime talk show in 2012.

It wasn't just the consistent third-place finish that prompted Couric to leave; it seemed like she wasn't 100 percent comfortable in the role of network evening news anchor. She likes talking to people, and in the daytime arena she'll be able to excel in the way she did when she was on the 'Today' show for 15 years.

So, it now comes down to who is going to replace Couric at the anchor desk. It doesn't seem like CBS will make the same move it made five years ago when it courted Couric; who knows if they even have $15 million per year to throw around anymore. But there seem to be plenty of internal and external candidates for CBS to consider for the job. After the jump, a quick list possibilities and a chance to take a poll so you can tell us who you'd like to see win the job.

Scott PelleyScott Pelley
Because of his '60 Minutes' connection to new CBS News chief -- and current '60' executive producer -- Jeff Fager, Pelley has been the odds-on favorite to replace Couric ever since these latest rumors surfaced. He'd be an excellent choice, for a lot of reasons. Pelley has been with CBS for over 20 years, and has been everywhere with the network, both on the schedule and in the field. In his years with the '60 Minutes' franchise, he's become a go-to reporter for the news magazine, traveling all over the globe to get key interviews or stories on the hottest news stories, something '60' hadn't done until recent years. But mostly, it seems to be his time; he was in the running for the job five years ago before Couric's name was involved.

Of course, outside of '60 Minutes,' he doesn't carry the same name recognition as either of the other two network anchors, Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer. But CBS went for splashy name recognition five years ago, and where did that get them?

Harry SmithHarry Smith
Despite being dismissed from his job as anchor of 'The Early Show' at the end of 2010, Smith continues to play a significant role at the Eye Network, reporting from hot spots in Egypt, Japan and elsewhere in this news-packed year. He's also been Couric's primary substitute on the 'Evening News,' so his presence there would not be shocking to viewers.

Smith seems like a too-safe choice, however; yes, he's been associated with CBS for decades, but he's seen more as an easygoing presence despite his hard news bona fides. He'd also be seen as a stop-gap measure, mainly due to his age (he'll be 60 this year), even if CBS swears up and down that he's in it for the long haul.

Russ MitchellRuss Mitchell
Mitchell has also been another loyal CBS soldier, working wherever the brass has asked him to work during his 20 year career. Recently, he was asked to return to his old haunt at the Saturday edition of 'The Early Show,' a show he helped establish a decade ago. In addition, he's the anchor of the Sunday edition of the 'Evening News,' so there's a familiarity there.

If Pelley doesn't get the job, Mitchell's got a shot, mainly because of his familiarity to the audience, even if people don't really know him well by name.

Lara LoganLara Logan
Logan needs to be in the discussion only because she's one of CBS's most recognizable correspondents. Her news prowess can't be questioned, and she'll likely use her foreign correspondent chutzpah to take the 'Evening News' to wherever the news is actually happening, something that Couric seemed to do only reluctantly.

But would she be willing to come off the road and tie herself to an anchor desk. Despite the recent sexual assault incident in Egypt, Logan doesn't seem like the type who will shrink from any assignment when she comes back to full-time reporting duty. Even if she expands what an 'Evening News' anchor can do in the field, the job may still feel constraining to her.

Anderson CooperAnderson Cooper
CBS has wanted to add Cooper to its news stable for years, and he does contribute a few stories per year to '60 Minutes.' Of all the candidates, he has the most name recognition, and in his years at CNN, reporting from the scene of every major news story in the last decade-plus, he's also gained recognition as an anchor of his own series, 'Anderson Cooper 360.'

Of course, that means he already has a job, one that takes him wherever he wants to go to report a story. It's the same issue as Logan; will he want to be tied to a anchor desk that limits what he can do as a reporter? In addition, it'll likely take buckets of money to get him to leave CNN, a network where he's done everything from report from the Katrina-ravaged Gulf to getting attacked by Hosni Mubarak's supporters to getting punched in the gut by Kathy Griffin. Who would want to leave that?

Keith OlbermannKeith Olbermann
He's semi-available -- he not-so-voluntarily left MSNBC earlier this year but linked up with Al Gore's obscure cable network Current TV -- and has the name recognition that CBS may like ...

Ah, who are we kidding? He's way too partisan, and far too difficult, for CBS to even want to give him a try. If you want to throw money at a big name, go with Anderson Cooper. But it's fun to speculate what the 'CBS Evening News With Keith Olbermann' would look like, wouldn't it?

Tell us: Who do you think will replace Katie Couric on the 'CBS Evening News?' Tell us in the comments and the poll below.

Who will replace Katie Couric on the 'CBS Evening News?'
Scott Pelley21519 (25.6%)
Harry Smith18158 (21.6%)
Russ Mitchell8087 (9.6%)
Lara Logan7567 (9.0%)
Anderson Cooper23492 (27.9%)
Keith Olbermann5300 (6.3%)

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Chris Cuomo from ABC would be an excellent choice.

April 11 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It would be nice to see a male/female team such as Pelley and Logan with alternating field assignments. Whoever they go with, how about an honest news cast. They should be sentenced to at least a month of BBC News to see how it's supposed to be done. On top of that try reporting facts instead of press releases, rumors, and opinions. I'm totally sick of content free news.

April 09 2011 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about ending the national news on CBS and throwing on a full hour of Two and A Half Men reruns, or even just a half hour of nothing at all.

April 06 2011 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

'Cmon CBS, really? Stretch the imagination. Hire former Saturday Night Live performers and actors from the '70's and '80's.
I'd actually watch your program if the likes of Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Ted Lange or David Soul were 'broadcasting' every week.
A paper bag would be more appealing than Couric!

April 06 2011 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

kieth olberman are you kidding he's the same reason katys last . no news only dumb opinions on issues there not qualified to answer or better yet how about Al Gore the self proclaimed scientist.

April 06 2011 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

please ...no anderson cooper on cbs..

April 06 2011 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anderson Cooper, the most probable choice

April 05 2011 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anderson Cooper, if they can afford him.

April 05 2011 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who cares?? CBS News hasn't tried to do anything different. I haven't watched 60 minutes in years. Its the same old approach.....libet slant on news stories. Try being bold and fresh...use the FOX model. It works.

April 05 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Truth and the courage to report it is what's missing from network news. We get stories that distract and big news items fall by the wayside if it shows the truth about republicans or conservatives and what they're up to. If it hadn't been for MSNBC, I would never have known who the Koch brothers and how they have unduly impacted who we vote for and what we know. This is just one of dozens of examples. If network news really cared about courage, real jounalism; in other words truth, Keith Olberman would be at the top of the list. Lots of conservatives post here and hang around the AOL political boards so I expect lots of negative and angry retorts. But, I've written the truth. Keith Olberman never lied to us or held back the truth under any circumstances. Can you say the same for the typical network news "reporter?" I love my country and I miss the fact that we no longer have journalists delivering network news. Any one who actually watched Keith Olberman knows he is a liberal, but he also reported any misstep by democrats just as he did republicans. This is what we need. I'm tired of propaganda and stories of people who rescued their cat from a tree. I like cats like the next person, but I should be reading this in the human interest section of a newspaper or on a show like Deborah Norville's. We have the Koch brothers influencing Governors, Senators, Congressmen, etc. and yet we hear nothing of it on network news. You have other stories that affect you at the supermarket, stories on carcinogenics, etc. that we're not getting because the network news is too busy hiding the news when it's against republicans and conservatives and distracting the viewer with drivel and fluff. There, I've written it! I feel lots better no matter what crap will be posted against what I've written, any one who loves this country and cares about the truth won't be writing against me.
The conservatives and republicans have their way 24/7 on the air. It's our turn - the working people, the tax payers who don't have loop holes like the Koch brothers do.

April 05 2011 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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