Couric Likely Shut Out Of 2008 Debates

When CBS News was forced to cancel its Dec. 10 debate due to WGA-led labour strife, we described it as a mixed blessing for CBS: a blow for the news division but positive for the network, which doesn’t have to air a low-rated night of programming.

But the cancellation means Couric, the nation’s most expensive anchor ($15m/yr), will likely be the only major news anchor not to moderate even a single debate in the 2008 cycle, even while lesser worthies from the cable world have gotten a chance (Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann… even Maria Bartiromo.) More on why Katie’s screwed after the jump.

Why a primary debate probably isn’t in the cards.
The schedule is already jammed between now and Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, after which any primary debate would be an academic exercise. CNN has three debates scheduled between now and then, while ABC and NBC/MSNBC have two apiece. NBC’s Brian Williams has already moderated a debate and will no doubt get another, and while it hasn’t been announced, Charlie Gibson is the probable moderator for at least one of the ABC News/Facebook debates in January. Even if CBS News tried to land a date, the candidate’s dance cards are full.

Why a general election debate probably won’t happen either.
The Big Three news anchors used to consider the big debates their birthright, that era has been over for years. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which manages the four face-to-face debates between the nominees, passed over the Big Three anchors in 2004, tapping Bob Schieffer, Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill and Charlie Gibson (who was a morning show anchor then) to handle the duties. So when the general election debates come up in September, the odds that Couric, or any network news anchor, gets a nod is slim.

Related: Newsflash: Couric Not Involved in WGA-CBS News Spat

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