The Associated Press, citing an unnamed CBS source, is reporting today that Katie Couric will step down as Evening News anchor, with an eye towards launching a syndicated daytime talk show in 2012. Couric's original five-year contract with CBS expires June 4, and her future with the network has been the subject of much media speculation. As recently as last week, the New York Post reported CBS was planning to offer her a position as a regular correspondent on 60 Minutes to convince her to remain at the network.
While the Evening News won two Edward R. Murrow awards for best newscast with Couric at the helm, and the anchor's interview with Sarah Palin was one of the more memorable moments of the 2008 presidential campaign, the former Today Show co-host enjoyed lackluster ratings and constant speculation about her job security, most famously in Joe Hagan's New York magazine cover article from 2007.
According to the AP, the internal candidates to replace Couric are Scott Pelley, Russ Mitchell, and Harry Smith. Couric was the first big solo female anchor for evening news, and her appointment and tenure have sparked plenty of debates about gender. Which will raise more red flags with the careful observers: that the three internal candidates to replace her are all male, or that Couric is headed to what TV Squad's Catherine Lawson calls "the Oprah-sized hole in the daytime talk show lineup"?