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Press Continues Slamming Katie Couric. CBS PR Chief Gil Schwartz Continues To Let Them / Jossip
Press Continues Slamming Katie Couric. CBS PR Chief Gil Schwartz Continues To Let Them
— Fri, Oct 27, 2006 —

When it comes to Katie Couric, CBS's official line is "While CBS News ratings are up, NBC and ABC ratings are down." Technically, when CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz points out the numbers – CBS is up 8 percent from this time last year, with 7.4 million viewers, while NBC is down 8 percent (to 8.5m) and ABC down 5 percent (to 7.9m) – he's right. But that still leaves Couric dragging in third place, and more than a few CBS insiders have declared the $45 million investment in the former Today show host a flop.

But what about the investment in PR chief Schwartz (aka Fortune columnist Stanley Bing)? Schwartz – who's held his job in one form or another since 1994 and reports directly to Les Moonves – continues to draw ire from industry insiders. It was only Monday night, at Broadcasting & Cable's Hall of Fame Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, that many a mouth were wagging about his current Katie Couric tragedy. And this time, it wasn't just about the slimmed down photo than ran in the CBS promotions magazine Schwartz oversees.

Nobody can quite figure out how Gil has managed to bungle Katie Couric's rep so badly. While the numbers may do the talking, Schwartz should be doing the spinning — and NBC's Jeff Zucker has given him the perfect platform. The GE-mandated 700 job cuts at NBC Universal is, one would think, the perfect platform to cast the network TV spotlight entirely on the Peacock's problems. But Gil hasn't managed to do much of that, evidenced by the continued hounding of Couric. On the attack: USA Today's Peter Johnson, Matt Drudge, the Los Angeles Times, Broadcasting & Cable's Andrew Tyndall, the New York Times, Newday's Verne Gay, and the New York Post's Page Six all raking Katie over the ratings coals. NBC's press coverage, meanwhile, remains plenty anti-Zucker, but sometimes apologistic.

And it's not just the random hacks in the TV news business kivetching: We hear Katie herself is fuming over Schwartz's inabilities to put the spin in her favor. Not one to befriend a network's PR team, Katie already has Freud PR chief powerhouse Matt Hiltzik on her roster. And (indirectly) taking Katie's side is former CBS head Andrew Heyward. Speaking to The Strategist's John Elsasser:

In the frenzy that erupted, you, along with many of your colleagues at CBS, found yourself in the media???s crosshairs. How did you deal with being part of this media onslaught? What can PR professionals learn from your experiences?

Heyward: First of all, I think we handled the aftermath poorly and exacerbated the problem. There are lots of lessons there for PR professionals. In retrospect, they seem so obvious: Be quick to recognize not only that there is a problem but also the magnitude of the problem; be quick to address it, not only with the outside world but also with your own colleagues; and be open-minded about what your critics are saying. At the beginning, it might have been a commendable instinct to stand by your colleagues, [but] loyalty . . . should have been balanced more effectively and quickly with the responsibility to get to the bottom of the criticism and find out what had really happened and whether we had, in fact, fallen short in our reporting ??? which we had. That took way too long, and that was partly because we were too busy fending off attacks and had placed too much faith in colleagues based on their track records as opposed to the evidence that was before us.

It was only 2004 when Gil's head was rumored to be on the chopping block after his continued follies advising Heyward on how to handle the Dan Rather fall out. And you know what happened there. Unfortunate for CBS and Katie Couric, it sounds like Les Moonves doesn't know what's happening here. "I like Gil, he's a nice guy," a senior level CBS insider tells us. "But he's a disaster."


No. 1
waitingfortodaytohappen says:

Katie only likes internal PR people when they are kissing up to her and telling her how fabulous she is. The minute that they pay attention to other talent or stop fawning over her-she turns on them. Obviously Gil is taking the butt-kisser route with her to divert her attention from the fact that he isn't doing anything to protect her or her show from being massacred daily. You would think that someone who is supposedly so smart and paid so much would see that he is a weak PR person who is only concerned with promoting himself. But then, Katie is all smoke and mirrors-a she-devil masscarading as America's Sweetheart.

October 27, 2006 12:19 PM
No. 2
yardgraffiti says:

Just because she was the poster child for monring shows doesn't make her any more special for becoming CBS's newest anchor. Different times, different audience. I don't think anyone at CBS did their research, but all the stay-at-home moms went to bed early with their kids.

October 27, 2006 4:01 PM
No. 3
earlyarrival says:

Katie was losing the soccer mom set when she was at Today as well. She got too blond, too rich and too out of touch with her core audience. Look at "Today's" ratings-they weren't hurt a bit when she left. Her bitchiness was wearing not only on her co-hosts, who all did backflips when she left, but on her audience. The CBS Newsroom better brace themselves-unless you are one of the paid-professional friends that Katie brought with her from NBC, she will have her claws out in force looking to blame anyone for what are her failures.

October 27, 2006 5:13 PM
No. 4
purchpower says:

Has anyone noticed that everyone around Gil get fired but he still collects his mammoth paycheck? What does he have on dear Les? You have to wonder. I put my money on a "restructuring" announcement within the CBS News PR staff any day now.

October 28, 2006 12:10 AM
No. 5
icantbelieveitsnotbutter says:

I agree with the above poster. Gil will keep his job while everyone else will start falling around him. The newsroom whispers are that the grand dame Julie C doesn't like the toothy Ms. Couric very much-she isn't properly kissing her very large ring. Someone (maybe Matthew H?) should tell Katie that she isn't the head cheerleader anymore and she better start fake acting like she used to with Bryant Gumbel for years unless she wants to end up like him.

October 28, 2006 12:31 AM
No. 6
I can't believe my pussy is the size of a house says:

So do I.

October 28, 2006 3:20 AM
No. 7
J. Richard says:

Katie's super ego, and self back patting does not a news anchor make . There is no place behind of (or in front of as she tries on occasion) her anchor desk for her old Today Show leg shows .
'You can take the bimbo out of the ..... ,but you can't.....

October 30, 2006 8:25 AM
No. 8
jonny says:


November 9, 2006 8:38 AM
No. 9
Anncoulter'sass says:

i'd eat her

November 9, 2006 1:10 PM
No. 10
Ednonymous says:

Aren't anchors usually reporters first?
When did she ever do real rporting?

November 15, 2006 1:15 AM
No. 11
Rick says:

She is terrible!! Now I see they have her on 60 minutes too...are they trying to destroy that show as well? What's with giving her the soft camera lens? Are they trying to cover up the poor face lift, or the fact she can't hide her anger in her expressions...Get this bimbo off the air. The big winner in all this...the Today Show.

November 19, 2006 7:38 PM
No. 12
insurance says:

Has for the first time bought the machine. It is necessary to insure. Friends have advised buy car insurance online PEUGEOT. Advise, can eat more cheaply.

December 6, 2006 6:19 AM

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