A Katie Couric adviser dismissed as "a negotiating ploy" a report Wednesday that CBS has dropped its offer to do a daytime syndicated talk show with the exiting "CBS Evening News" anchor.
TheWrap reported Tuesday that Couric has narrowed her next steps to staying at CBS or going to Disney-ABC.
Also read: Couric Narrows Choices to ABC, CBS
Like all smart suitors, both networks want to seem interested — but not too interested — as Couric considers her options. An ABC insider cautioned TheWrap on Wednesday that nothing was certain with Couric and that the network believes her joining it is "a longshot."
The bottom line: Either company would love to sign her — but not to suffer the embarrassment of almost signing her and letting her slip away.
Couric's adviser said of the TV Guide report that the offer to Couric had been rescinded: "It's understandable that they would want to cover themselves in the event that she goes to ABC."
Asked to confirm CBS had pulled the offer, the adviser told TheWrap that CBS officials may have done so just so they could say they did. But the adviser said the situation remains very fluid.
CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Couric's adviser said the two conglomerates' financial incentives were similar enough that money was not at issue, and that Couric's main concern is to develop the best possible syndicated talk show — with the widest possible audience — for fall 2012. Also not at issue, the adviser said, was how much Couric would contribute to CBS News.
Couric's contract with the network, where she has anchored "CBS Evening News" for five years, expires June 4. The network named Scott Pelley as her successor Tuesday.
Even given Wednesday's hardball, CBS could have the edge over ABC in several ways: Couric has, at least publicly, expressed satisfaction over the last five years. And syndication arm CBS TV Distribution boasts many of the most successful syndicated shows, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Dr. Phil," and "Rachael Ray."