Larry King Sticks Up for Katie Couric

Count Larry King among Katie Couric’s fans. The venerable CNN host watches the new anchor of the CBS Evening News and thinks her ratings struggles have more to do with gender than with journalism.

"It might still be hard for a woman to anchor the evening news," King says. "And that’s sad."

Couric, whom King calls "smart and certainly attractive," will commandeer the host’s chair on Larry King Live in April to interview King as part of a special week of shows honoring his 50th year in broadcasting.

King also believes Couric suffers from the stigma of representing a network news division that is trailing in the ratings.

"Maybe you just can’t change the way you are branded," he says. "CBS can’t do well in the morning, either. [The Early Show] is a good show. If they moved Katie to the morning, would it help? Maybe not. They may just be branded [as unsuccessful in the mornings]."

As others have suggested, it may take a major news event to help the former Today host shed her "perky" image, says King: "Hurricane Katrina made Anderson Cooper. It could happen to Katie that way."

Speaking of Cooper, King says he has no problem with the way CNN has been marketing the anchor and other rising stars at the network.

"I would be promoting Anderson, too," he says. "He has a bright future. I hope they don’t lose him."