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.It's perhaps not surprising that Couric would be more familiar to the nation than Williams or Gibson but what I found slightly shocking was the largely positive feelings towards all three. Among those who had an opinion of them, "good" was the top description given each one. Considering these were open-ended questions (meaning that respondents were asked to provide a one-word description of each anchor), the amount of positive reactions are a little unbelievable.
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.
The only descriptors given that could be considered negative at all were: liberal, alright, OK, dislike, biased and fluffy (yes, "liberal" is not inherently negative but it was likely not offered up as a compliment in this instance). All those were given for Couric, some of them applied to Williams and Gibson. You could throw in "old" (for Gibson) and probably "perky," "cute," "bubbly" (for Couric) as relatively negative for a news anchor as well. Still, the vast majority of adjectives offered up had positive connotations. That might simply mean that people don't like to say negative things to pollsters on the phone but, given current attitudes toward the media, it's a rare sign of trust. You can see the full results here but here's a glimpse of the survey's summary:
By wide margins, most Americans who know them have positive things to say about each of the new evening news anchors – good is by far the most mentioned word for all three. However, the more specific words used to describe Katie Couric have a decidedly different tone. Perky, cute, nice, energetic, bubbly, and fluffy were among the most frequently offered impressions of Couric, but they were offered along with knowledgeable, informed, smart and fair.
Specific accolades for the other two commercial broadcast news anchors were less about personality and style and more focused on their job performance. NBC's Brian Williams was often summed up in a word as fair, and also as informative, knowledgeable and professional. Trustworthy was frequently offered as positive descriptor of ABC's Charles Gibson along with informed, professional and competent.