AP sez Katie Couric will exit “CBS Evening News’

The AP tonight added its heft to the growing list of “sources say” reports that Katie Couric is ready to give up the anchor chair at “The CBS Evening News.”

It’s still not clear whether she will leave the CBS fold entirely as she fields offers for a syndicated yakker targeted for fall 2012. It’s also not clear who will follow her at “Evening News.” With “Mad Men’s” fate settled, it seems like Katie Couric watch is the next round-the-clock reporting vigil for TV journos.

According to the AP’s David Bauder:

Katie Couric is leaving her anchor post at “CBS Evening News” less than five years after becoming the first woman to solely helm a network TV evening newscast.

A network executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Couric has not officially announced her plans, reported the move to The Associated Press on Sunday night. The 54-year-old anchor is expected to launch a syndicated talk show in 2012 and several companies are vying for her services. …

No departure date has been set for Couric. Her CBS News contract expires on June 4.

“We’re having ongoing discussions with Katie Couric,” said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair on Sunday. “We have no announcements to make at this time. Until we do, we will continue to decline comment on rumor or speculation.”

Said Matthew Hiltzik, Couric’s spokesman: “Ditto.”

Still, discussions are already under way about who will replace Couric on the evening newscast. Russ Mitchell, Scott Pelley and Harry Smith are among the internal CBS candidates, and new CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager is also expected to look outside the company.

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