Update - 2/4, 11:46 AM | Lachlan Markay: CBS News President Sean McManus has denied that the network will cut Couric's pay. Details below.
Katie Couric may be getting a taste of her own populist medicine. When the Dow hit 10,000 last October, she (and other network news personalities) used the opportunity to bemoan massive payments to Wall Street bankers. But now the populist sentiment has turned on her. She faces dramatic pay cuts as CBS News downsizes.
Couric, shown in a, er, file photo at right, "makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year! It's complete insanity," one CBS News insider told the Drudge Report. "We report with great enthusiasm how much bankers are making, how it is out of step with reality during a recession. Well look at Katie!"
The employee was referring to Couric's roughly $14 million annual salary, the highest in network news. That salary may be cut dramatically in the face of massive layoffs at CBS News branches in Washington, San Francisco, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Moscow.
CBS News has been one of the most outspoken networks against massive Wall Street bonuses and executive payments. The "Early Show" hosted economist Peter Morici late last year to whine that "it's absolutely unfair for Wall Street to be paying itself record bonuses. The taxpayers made these bonuses possible by loaning Wall Street money at near zero rates. This is all quite unseemly and inappropriate."
Couric herself has also been critical on occasion. She said last year, "Pick up today's Wall Street Journal and you'll read banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees record amounts this year. And, you pick up The New York Times and you'll see some workers are being forced to take huge pay cuts."
Days later, she recounted on Evening News that "Taxpayers all over the country were outraged when they heard that companies they helped bail out turned around and gave their executives huge bonuses."
Couric probably would have been better off staying away from criticisms of executive bonuses. Her $300,000 per week salary was sure to raise eyebrows in the event of layoffs.
Maybe as a rule of thumb, multi-millionaires should just avoid inciting class warfare, for their own sake if no one else's.
UPDATE: CBS News President Sean McManus told the Huffington Post: "Nobody in the business works harder than Katie and I can tell you unequivocally that there have been and are no plans and not even a single discussion about making a change or renegotiating."
Kevin Williamson of National Review says insiders have told him the same: "Categorical denial: Looks like Couric's $300,000 a week is safe for now."