Amidst all the speculation that Katie Couric will leave the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News later this spring, here’s a look at some possible successors:
Scott Pelley. The 60 Minutes correspondent has been named the front-runner by The New York Times. A longtime CBS veteran, he’s held prominent jobs at the network. Upside is that he’s young and able to go up against Brian Williams and others for years. Is the Texas Tech grad too much like fellow Texans Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer?
Jake Tapper. The ABC News White House correspondent got passed over to run This Week, but his network star is high and while he hasn’t had much anchor time, he’s been praised for his Sunday morning stints filling in for Christiane Amanpour and George Stephanopoulos. He’d probably have to put aside the book he’s writing on one important battle in the Afghan war.
George Stephanopoulos. He’s already host of Good Morning America and the likely successor to Diane Sawyer at World News Tonight. And both may be better jobs than taking over the perennial last-place CBS Evening News. Plus, after Couric’s megacontract, it’s hard to see CBS boss Les Moonves opening his checkbook quite that wide again. Still, getting the evening chair might be worth the temptation for Stephanopoulos. (A Clinton staffer, yes, but Sawyer worked for Nixon.)
Terry Moran. The ABC News Nightline co-anchor has to take a back seat for World News Tonight and This Week. This is one way to leap over the herd. The former Court TV anchor has plenty of experience.
Cynthia McFadden. Speaking of which, this former Court TV anchor and Columbia Law Grad is a staple of ABC News and the Upper East Side social scene. Still she brings gravitas, anchor chops, and great interview skills.
Anderson Cooper. The CNN parachutist-in-residence loves jumping into hot spots, but he also has a deal with 60 Minutes already. Cooper is anchor-ready, but given all of CNN’s woes, is there any evidence that he can really build an audience on a network?
Bob Costas. A sports guy? That’s what they said about Roone Arledge when he took over ABC News and built it into a behemoth. The polished interviewer and anchor can work the camera, but would Americans trust him in wartime?
Ann Curry. She never got the anchor chair at Today, but NBC has given her a wide berth to pursue stories around the globe, most notably in the Sudan and most recently in Japan following the earthquake. Will the CBS brass ever recruit from NBC’s morning lineup again? Once burned, probably not, but with her mixed ethnic heritage she’s might be CBS’s best face to offer the new America.
Keith Olbermann/Bill O’Reilly. It sounds more like a WWF match, and it’ll never happen. But does the network evening news anchor have to be avowedly nonpartisan like John Chancellor or Walter Cronkite? The co-anchor format with one avowed lefty and one right-winger would be great TV, more “Network” than network. Besides, Olbermann doesn’t have a real outlet and O’Reilly once worked at CBS. What homecoming could be better?