May 19, 2024

Media Decoder: Amid Rumors She’s Leaving CBS, Couric Heads to Iraq

Postscript Appended

As reports continue to swirl about an impending departure from her anchor position at CBS News, Katie Couric is to embark Tuesday morning on a long-planned trip to Iraq, where she will report on the military and political situation eight years after Baghdad fell to invading American forces.

The trip, which CBS is expected to announce Tuesday, comes even as CBS and representatives of Ms. Couric repeat their recent denials of an imminent resolution of her current status at the network. Her contract with CBS ends June 4.

CBS would not confirm Ms. Couric’s plans for this week. But speculation about her future continues to center on an end to her role as the anchor of “The CBS Evening News” and a new career as host of a syndicated daytime talk show.

Several executives who have been involved in the negotiations about Ms. Couric’s future said Monday that no deal was in place yet for Ms. Couric’s exit, nor even a determination of her next television destination. Both CBS and NBC – among others — have offers out to Ms. Couric to syndicate a talk show with her as the star.

Those offers could include a continuing role in news away from the anchor chair. Two CBS news executives said that taking this kind of news-oriented trip to Iraq would be exactly the sort of thing Ms. Couric would be able to do under the terms of a new relationship with a network news division. “This would be an example of the new scenarios that would be possible for her,” said one executive, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations with Ms. Couric were continuing.

The syndication deal is expected to include some association with a network news division, so Ms. Couric would be able to continue to have a presence on news coverage. According to those involved in the talks, that could take the form of prime-time specials, perhaps fill-in stints on a morning news show, or even reporting assignments in the field.

Ms. Couric herself confirmed one aspect of the speculation about her future show: that her former boss at the “Today” show – and the former chief executive of NBC, Jeff Zucker — would be involved the production of the show.

In an interview with The New York Times magazine to run next Sunday, Ms. Couric said of the rumors that Mr. Zucker would play a role in her future show, “We talk a lot and, yes, we’ve been discussing the possibilities. That’s true.”

Postscript: April 4, 2011

An earlier version incorrectly stated that Ms. Couric would depart for Iraq on Monday night instead of on Tuesday morning.

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