The Curse of the Free Agent

William Small, the former president of NBC News and U.P.I., said that CBS should stick with Ms. Couric and continue to pump up the hard news. Hiring Mr. Kaplan, according to Mr. Small, is the right move as long as CBS gives him enough time. “It’s turning around a ship at sea,” he said. “It’s slow, you have to be patient, and you have to build up a following.”

George Phenix, the founder of the Texas Weekly—who in 1963, while on assignment for a CBS affiliate in Dallas, filmed Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald—said that if anyone should lose patience, it’s Ms. Couric.

“I think it’s naïve to blame all of CBS’s woes on her,” said Mr. Phenix. “It began with Dan Rather—nothing much they can do. I think she’s the wrong person for the wrong time. That doesn’t mean that in the future, it might not work. But I want my anchors to be ugly like Roger Mudd, and have brass balls like Mike Wallace. And I think good looks just get in the way. It makes the mind wander. If I were Katie, I’d take the money and run.”

Mr. Rodriguez has an opt-out clause after the 2007 season. There has been speculation that Ms. Couric will leave the CBS Evening News after the 2008 Presidential election. Recently, Mr. Rodriquez told WFAN: “I want to be here. I want to stay here.” Last month, Mr. Kaplan told The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Katie is the anchor until she decides to ride off into the sunset and do something else.”