I really didn’t think this was going to go anywhere.

Despite her newsmaking interview with Michael J. Fox last week, Katie Couric’s goal of taking the “CBS Evening News” to the top is getting further out of reach.

Her average audience of 7.3 million viewers left the “CBS Evening News” 1.1 million behind ABC’s second-place “World News.” It was the biggest gap between the two broadcasts since the week of Feb. 6, according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC’s “Nightly News” led the way with 8.9 million viewers last week.

It wasn’t really all that gutsy a move to put up the first female sole-anchor of a major nightly news broadcast. Had this happened 20 years ago, it might have had a bigger impact. But today, the gender gap is becoming smaller and smaller.

Couric’s average of 7.3 million was identical to the Bob Schieffer- anchored newscast during the same week a year ago, Nielsen said.

CBS isn’t at the bottom because their anchor is female. They’re at the bottom because, well, they’re CBS. They’ve lost a lot of credibility that is hard to regain with an audience that has more choices.

CBS and Couric have tried some new things with the evening newscast, including longer interviews and a “Free Speech” segment where guests offer opinions. In the light of the ratings, they will likely face pressure to head to a more traditional format.

And rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic isn’t going to make it more buoyant.

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