Yesterday it was made official, Katie Couric is leaving the "Today" show on NBC to anchor the "CBS Evening News." While some CBS employees have been less than welcoming -- Andy Rooney for example -- for the most part CBS reporters have been good soldiers in promoting the company line. But, on this morning’s "The Early Show," co-host Harry Smith went above and beyond the call of duty in narrating a piece that was so laden with praise, it could have been mistaken for a eulogy. Take the following quotes for example:
Harry Smith: "Does Katie have the gravitas to anchor the evening news, to be the go-to guy, so to speak, on breaking news? Absolutely. Did you see Katie on 9/11? Have you seen her interview a president? She makes the powerful, uncomfortable, and makes real folks feel at home."
Harry Smith: "This is one old CBS hand who can't wait till she starts. Couric, for my money, is the best live television interviewer, period."
Yet, the way Smith ended the piece may be more telling of his thinking than his praise of Couric’s credentials. Smith ended with a question:
Harry Smith: "And as for a woman as the solo network anchor? What took them so long?"
Smith’s sentiment echoed that of Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) who said:
Kim Gandy: "NOW is pleased to see a woman finally serving as the sole anchor and managing editor of a network's evening newscast,'' Gandy said. "While this is a great step for women in media and in leadership roles, I can't help but note that it's taken far too long.''
The fact that Gandy and Smith would agree comes as no surprise. Bernard Goldberg, in his book Bias described Harry Smith as a man-loathing feminist (page 132):
"This brings us to Harry Smith, the former co-anchor of CBS This Morning, as affable a feminist as you'll ever meet -- and even in a business populated by so many liberals, Harry is out there, way off in left field. It was the summer of 1995, August 14, to be exact. I had just come back from a vacation in Alaska with my wife, Nancy, and our daughter, Catherine. We were at a hotel in Seattle, and I turned on CBS This Morning to see what was going on."
"There was Harry interviewing the actor Dennis Quaid about a movie he had just done, Something To Talk About. In the movie Quaid plays a sleazeball, a married man who can't keep his hands off half the women in town."
"To Harry this is how men act in real life too. Which prompted him to say to Quaid, ‘I'm under the assumption that most men are putzes.’"
"In Harry's mind this was a perfectly reasonable observation. Because to Harry Smith, most men are putzes. I know this because I called him a few days later and asked just what he had in mind."
"‘Men are the cheaters,’ Harry told me. ‘Men are the philanderers. We're the ones who don't take care of our families.’"
"The word putz was creeping into my mind...but it wasn't ‘most men’ I was thinking about."
"‘And white guys are running around the country complaining that they're victims,’ he added, just to make sure I was getting his point."
"I understand all that but what I can't figure out is how you can spell ‘Harry Smith’ without using the letters pc."
It may be Harry Smith’s feminism that overpowers him with joy over the fact that Katie Couric is coming to his network, CBS, or maybe it’s just the fact that he’ll be close to a woman who once long ago confided to Bryant Gumbel on the "Today" show, "I've always had this thing for Harry Smith."
That was one of the clips, of course, included in this morning's tribute to Couric. Looks like the feeling is mutual.