NBC is in the perfect position to undermine the credibility of the new CBS News anchor.

NBC has 15 years worth of videotape of Katie Couric anchoring the "Today" show. And hundreds of clips of Couric doing idiotic, inane things.

Just haul out the clips of Couric dressed up in all those Halloween costumes, splice them together and ask viewers, "Is this who you want delivering your news?"

Couric has done fine journalism in the 15 years she co-hosted "Today." But she was also part of the comedy team of Katie, Matt and Al.

Frankly, too much is made of the anchors on the Big Three networks. In the age of multiple 24-hour cable-news channels, hours of local TV newscasts and the Internet, the ratings and importance of network evening newscasts are a fraction of what they once were.

Today's anchors are not the icons like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley.

Cronkite himself defended Couric, telling TV critics, "She's a darn good journalist.

"I remember her when she was an NBC correspondent in Japan, and I thought she did great work as a correspondent in Japan. I haven't watched their morning show that much in (recent) years, but from what I remember then, I can't see how she would lose her ability to be a journalist, and therefore I would assume that she is a valuable property."

Valuable to the tune of $13 million to $15 million a year, according to reports.

It's great that the flagship newscast of a major broadcast network will be anchored by a woman — the first time any woman has done the job solo. Couric will also be the newscast's managing editor, do prime-time specials and contribute to "60 Minutes."

She will also be the face, the image, the icon of CBS News. And you've got to wonder if, in time of crisis, Couric's image will be the one that Americans will want to tune in to get their news.

Meanwhile, Couric's replacement on "Today" — Meredith Vieira — looks like a great fit. She's got journalism experience (including a stint on "60 Minutes"), she's yakked it up as one of the women on "The View," and she's a game-show host ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire").

Sounds like perfect qualifications for the morning zoo that is "Today."

I'll bet she has Halloween costumes in her closet, too.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com