BA on Assignment

July 19, 2011

The CBS Evening News – Round 2

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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It’s been almost 2 months since Scott Pelley took the anchor chair and he’s away on his first assignment for 60 Minutes. 2 Days into his absence and I’m back on board. Bob Schieffer is awesome.

Day 2 with Bob Schieffer… A paraphrase of his opening line: Rupert Murdoch was in front of the British Parliament today to testify – took a flurry of questions… then he got hit in the face with a cream pie… LMAO.

If CBS wasn’t sure they made a mistake before yesterday, they should be sure now. Even CBS’s Business Correspondent Anthony Mason had to LOL during his introduction from the ease at which Schieffer delivered that line. It was refreshing… it was honest. Fact is, Bob don’t give a damn – He’s not trying to prove anything to anyone. He’s the first anchor CBS has had in that chair since Walter Cronkite who convinces us that he’s genuine. Scott Pelley is killing me…

This is reminding me of NBC’s big gaffe when they gave The Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien and put Jay Leno at 10. Stupid. I understand they were attempting to move the brand forward, but, they would have been better of leaving Jay on The Tonight Show and trying Conan at 10. No disruption of the brand. Now NBC Entertainment just looks like idiots.

This is where we are with CBS. I see it coming – by the end of the summer, there’s going to be another change. I said in my very first blog post that they should have just given the chair to Harry Smith. With good reason, Harry has now left to go to NBC. What were they expecting? You would think they would have learned from the mistakes they made passing over John Roberts years ago. Looks like news executives haven’t gotten any more in-tune with society…

But, my guess is that Bob Schieffer is not interested in a full time job like the evening news 5 days a week. My bet is that he’s perfectly happy living here in WDC, taping Face The Nation every Sunday and thinking on retirement. I want it on record that I want his job. Face The Nation with Billy Abshaw has a nice ring to it… Stay tuned…

But, in just 2 days, Bob Schieffer has given some life back to the broadcast. Even more-so than Katie Couric. Not hard to do following Dan Rather, but… The word is that during his 17 months anchoring the broadcast before Katie took the chair, ratings were up significantly enough to get CBS in 2nd place. Katie Couric only got to 2nd place once or twice, but, nothing prolonged. What does that tell you CBS?

So, here is my suggestion for how CBS should handle this… I’ll use another NBC situation – this one from the early 90’s. The Today Show. Jane Pauley leaves Today. Her replacement is Deborah Norville. Audiences are not warming up to Deborah Norville. She goes out on maternity leave, in comes pregnant Katie Couric as her fill-in. Perfect plan; Katie goes out on maternity leave, Deborah comes back, all is well. However, audiences LOVE Katie Couric. 16 years later, Katie Couric leaves as the highest paid morning show anchor ever with the highest ratings ever.

When you’re learning the art of writing for television news, there is always someone in the newsroom who is happy to tell you this: Keep it simple stupid (KISS).

Note to CBS: Leave all the bad staffing decisions to NBC. KISS…