MEDIA
07/22/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The "Absurd" TV News Cult Of Personality

Tailored suit, tasteful hair, good posture, all business, only rare hints of perkiness.

I've been checking out Katie Couric, really putting the evil eye on her. You know, Couric, the former NBC "Today" superstar and subsequent $15-million-a-year Jeanne d'Arc who fell hard from her CBS high horse when delivering no miracles to lift that network's evening newscast from third in the ratings.

Media wonks are now wondering who will leave office first, George W. Bush or Couric.

It matters because even though their popularity has steadily fallen since their glory years, and more and more Americans turn to the Internet for news, the flagship newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS together still attract more than 21 million viewers on weeknights, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's nearly seven times the combined prime-time audience of cable's Barnum & Bailey gang of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.

The dubious common wisdom is that Couric has lacked the gravitas, poor kid, to challenge the twin towers of NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charles (formerly known as Charlie) Gibson. True or not, her newscast's failure has earned her full blame, for if she'd passed these front-runners, wouldn't she have received all the credit? Not the troops she fronted, just her.

Which is why this whole sainthood thing, this persisting TV news cult of personality, is so . . . so . . . what's the word I'm searching for?

Oh, yes: absurd.

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