Prediction: Katie Couric gets the hook

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When Katie Couric arrived at CBS in 2006, she was hailed as the perfect antidote to stodgy evening news. Before 2009 rolls around, her anchor chair will be empty again.

It's as simple as ratings. CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves gave Couric $15 million a year to do nothing less than make "CBS Evening News" first. It still ranks a distant third to NBC's "Nightly News" and ABC's "World News Tonight."

Couric's initial strategy of a softer, more human interest-oriented newscast turned off many CBS News loyalists used to Dan Rather and his interim replacement, Bob Schieffer. CBS quickly changed course, hiring veteran Rick Kaplan to bring back a hard-news sense and a traditional presentation.

In shifting tone, CBS has backed away from the Couric experiment without actually backing away from Couric. Yet. And she has expressed her own frustration, telling New York magazine that she would have thought twice about going to CBS if she knew her broadcast would end up as the same old thing.

The network has only one legitimate in-house replacement candidate in "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith, but no matter. Sometime after the November election, Couric and CBS likely will agree that she should transition into a correspondent role on "60 Minutes," which isn't anything to sneeze at -- it's the best job on network TV outside of the anchorship.






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