CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves paid a surprise visit to the CBS newsroom Friday to support embattled anchor Katie Couric.
Moonves told CBS News employees that “there are no plans for a change — today, tomorrow and into the future,” according to a network executive who was there. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the comments were not made public.
That doesn’t mean Couric’s status won’t be reviewed if ratings continue to lag — but that won’t happen until after the election, the executive said.
Moonves and CBS News President Sean McManus both appeared at a meeting held at noon each Friday between Couric and “CBS Evening News” executive producer Rick Kaplan. The meeting is televised internally to network news bureaus worldwide.
Several recent news articles have suggested that CBS has decided to replace Couric — who is running a distant third behind NBC and ABC in the evening news ratings — sometime after the election or inauguration of a new president.
Moonves and McManus wanted to rebut these articles to news employees, said a CBS News staffer who watched the meeting.
“They decided it was time that everybody was very clear where they stood and that they were not going to let news articles set anybody’s agenda,” Kaplan said. “They made it clear in everybody’s mind that they were totally supportive of Katie and of CBS News.”
McManus’ pep talk was more pointed, as he expressed anger at news articles that talked about weakness at the news division, the CBS staffer said.
Kaplan said Couric should be given more time, noting that it took years for former anchors like Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings to top the ratings. He predicted Couric — whose broadcast narrowly missed a record low rating last week — will be No. 1 someday.
“She’s not been at it two years and everybody is writing her obituary,” he said. “That’s fine. Success is the sweetest revenge.”