Today anchor tells viewers she’s leaving after 15 years to “work on the CBS Evening News.” CBS’s Moonves and McManus hail her signing as “another giant leap forward” for CBS News.
At about 7:30 ET this morning, after a clip introducing “Katherine Couric” as Bryant Gumble’s new partner 15 years ago, the co-anchor of NBC’s Today was asked by her current partner on the broadcast, Matt Lauer, if “there was anything new?”
There was and Katie—as she’s now known—told viewers that she will be leaving the show and NBC at the end of May. It was a difficult decision, she said, but made up her mind after “listening to my head and gut.”
“I feel as if we’ve become friends,” she told viewers, adding that she is “appreciative of the support you’ve given me” both in good times and during difficulties. She also thanked her colleagues at NBC, including everyone from the crew to the other members of the on-air team—”I really care deeply about the people here” and she said that “I will continue to grow and thrive” because of them. Then, she addressed her co-host Matt Lauer, saying: “As Dorothy said of the Scarecrow, ‘I think I am going to miss you most of all.’ “
“It’s been an honor and a priviledge to occupy this seat for as long as I have,” she added.
Lauer then asked what her plans were and, after joking about “opening a used bookstore in Montana,” Couric said that she “will be working on the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes.”
A few hours later, CBS confirmed that Couric would become anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric beginning in September. She also will contribute to 60 Minutes and will anchor CBS News primetime specials.
With the appointment, Couric becomes the first female solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast.
“It has been a great privilege to be one of the caretakers of a television institution like the Today show for 15 years,” said Couric in the CBS press release. “Joining CBS is a unique opportunity that came at the right time for me. I’m thrilled to become part of the rich tradition of CBS News and look forward to working with the many extraordinarily talented people there.”
“With this move, our news division takes yet another giant leap forward,” said CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves. “Katie is simply one of the best in the business.”
“This is an enormously proud day for all of us at CBS News,” said CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus. “Katie joining our team signifies not only her commitment to doing first-rate journalism, but our strong commitment to producing the highest quality work done by the best reporters, producers and writers in television news. She is a key ingredient as we work towards our goal of making CBS News the number one news organization in America.”
Couric will take over from Bob Schieffer, who has been anchoring the evening news since Dan Rather stepped down a year ago. “I couldn’t be happier,” said Schieffer. “Katie and I have been friends for years. She’s going to be a terrific addition to CBS News. I think we’re going to love Katie, and I think Katie’s going to love us.”
“Katie is a world-class reporter,” said Jeff Fager, Executive Producer, 60 Minutes. “There aren’t many people in this business who can conduct an interview as well as she can. It’s no wonder Don Hewitt was chasing her for years to be on this broadcast, and it’s exciting that it’s finally going to happen.”
It was left to Jeff Zucker, CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group, to issue the formal farewell. “When Katie and I first teamed up on the Today show 15 years ago this week, I never would have dreamed that we would be lucky enough to have her on the program as long as we have, and that she would become the longest serving co-anchor of the program in its history,” he said. “But there comes a time for everyone, when new challenges become hard to resist, and I fully understand that.”
Couric will continue on Today until her contract expires at the end of May.
Couric joined NBC News in 1989 as deputy Pentagon reporter. She began work on Today in June 1990 as its first national correspondent, which included two stints covering the Gulf War. Couric served as substitute co-anchor from February 1991 until taking over the job permanently on April 5, 1991. She also was a contributing anchor for Dateline NBC.
Couric’s broadcast journalism career began as a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington, D.C. (1979). She worked for CNN (1980-84) as an assignment editor, associate producer, producer and, ultimately, political correspondent. Couric was a general assignment reporter for WTVJ Miami (1984-86) and for WRC-TV Washington, D.C. (1987-89).
Couric is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award for her March 2000 series on colon cancer. Those reports contributed to the 2001 RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence won by NBC News. She also has won six Emmy Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award, a National Headliner Award, an Associated Press Award, a Matrix Award, two American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Awards, the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Julius B. Richmond Award and UNICEF’s Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award.