In her “60 Minutes” interview with New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez Sunday, Katie Couric asked the third baseman about steroids in baseball, the home run record he is poised to break eventually, and his own upstaging of the 2007 World Series. But most surprising were Couric’s questions about A-Rod’s record-setting salary.
“Your new contract is worth $300 million-plus,” Couric told Rodriquez, asking, “Are you worth it? Is any player worth that kind of salary?”
The Yankees announced this month that they had resigned Rodriguez in a deal ESPN estimated to be worth $275 million over 10 years, with another $30 million in incentives to reach milestones such as breaking the home run record set this year by Barry Bonds.
A-Rod could have pointed out that Major League Baseball works like any other market – players’ services are priced according to what the market will pay for their skills and experience. Someone in the Yankees organization felt $275 million over 10 years was a fair price to pay for Rodriguez. But he brushed the question aside, noting that “it’s not my job to evaluate or appraise players. I love to play baseball.”
Rodriguez could have pointed out he’s a two-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player. He also could have mentioned that last season he led the American League in runs, home runs and runs batted in – 143, 54 and 156 respectively.
A-Rod could have pointed to a number of stats that suggest he’s “worth it.” He also could have asked Couric if she’s worth the $15 million salary paid to her by CBS to anchor the “CBS Evening News” and make special appearances like Sunday’s “60 Minutes” segment.
With Couric as its anchor, the “Evening News” has looked more and more like a sinking ship. Since she took over in September 2006, the show’s ratings have taken a dive. The week of Dec. 3, 2007, the third-place “Evening News” drew 6.55 million viewers, down more than 1 million since September 2006, when it was second behind NBC.
As the Business & Media Institute has previously noted, Couric’s salary at CBS is $15 million per year – short of A-Rod’s average of $27.5 million per year, but still nothing to scoff at. And at least A-Rod’s performing, if only in the regular season.
TV writers have honed in on Couric’s failings at CBS. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in April 2007 that CBS was looking to can Couric, describing her as “an expensive, unfixable mistake.” CBS executives denied the report, according to Gail Shister, the Inquirer columnist who wrote about the rumors.