One-third of Americans say they have a negative view of Katie Couric, her personal popularity lagging behind rivals Charles Gibson and Brian Williams just as her evening news program trails in the ratings.
The Gallup Poll survey released Thursday found that 51 percent of Americans said they had a positive view of Couric, who jumped from NBC’s “Today” show to CBS last fall.
The poll found Gibson and Williams essentially running neck-and-neck in terms of popularity. ABC’s Gibson was viewed positively by 62 percent of TV viewers and NBC’s Williams by 59 percent, but that is within the sampling’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
That also mirrors the competition between the anchors in the television ratings. Gibson began the evening job last spring, and trailed Williams consistently for the rest of 2006. But in the past three months ABC’s “World News” has logged the most viewers during eight weeks, while NBC’s “Nightly News” won four weeks.
CBS recently hired former CNN and MSNBC president Rick Kaplan as “CBS Evening News” executive producer in an attempt to recover from Couric’s stumbling start.
She’s handicapped by the number of people — 29 percent in this poll — who explained their negative opinion by saying they simply “don’t like her,” Gallup said. Once one of the most popular personalities in TV news, her negative ratings crept up during her final years at “Today.”
At least people know who she is. Only 13 percent of the respondents said they had never heard of Couric, compared to 19 percent each for Gibson and Williams.
Gibson (16 percent) and Williams (18 percent) had much smaller negative ratings. Some in the news business believe the amiable Gibson has improved ABC’s ratings because he’s easier to listen to in a period of bad news.
The Gallup poll found 13 percent of the people who said they didn’t like Williams citing “too much negative reporting.” That explanation wasn’t offered by people who said they didn’t like Couric or Gibson.
The Gallup survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,007 adults conducted from April 23 to 26. In questions where respondents were asked to explain their negative opinions, the margin for error ranged from 5 to 9 percent.