Katie Couric Comes in with Baggage

Katie Couric has not said one word on the CBS Evening News, but she's already more famous than her future competitors, NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charles Gibson. She's also perceived as more "liberal" and more "biased" by conservatives. Reports USA Today:

Incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is more familiar to viewers than her competitors are: 66% of people have an opinion of the former Today star, compared with fewer than half for NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charles Gibson.

But a new Pew Research Center poll of 1,506 people also shows that although she's more widely known, Couric has more negatives.

As they did with CBS' Dan Rather for years, conservative Republicans see Couric as “liberal” and “biased,” while Democrats, independents and liberal Republicans gave favorable opinions.

By comparison, the poll showed “no overall differences along partisan or ideological lines” when respondents of all stripes were asked about Williams and Gibson.

Couric, 49, begins on the Evening News on Sept. 5, the first solo female anchor in broadcast news. CBS is betting that Couric can take the News from its longtime also-ran berth against top-rated NBC Nightly News and ABC's No. 2 World News.

“It's a notable moment” in network news, says Pew director Andrew Kohut. Though Couric is a well-known personality, “she has a disadvantage with conservatives, which CBS has always had. She'll not be uncomfortable in that seat.”

In the poll, “good” was the most mentioned word for all three anchors. But some words used to describe Couric — “perky,” “cute,” “nice,” “energetic” and “bubbly” — were not used for Williams or Gibson.

CBS News spokeswoman Kelli Edwards' response: “Rather than focusing on the survey of the day or playing word-association games, we're concentrating on producing a high-quality broadcast.”