I wonder if Scott Pelley realizes how many times he says “I wonder”?

Irritating or endearing habit? Watch the CBS Evening News and count the number of times anchor Scott Pelley says "I wonder…"

It's quite a verbal tic for Pelley. And unlike the way he holds his chin, or clasps his pen or reading glasses, when the camera returns to him after a correspondent's story, for an on-cue poignant moment, it seems to be utterly unconscious.

In Pelley's otherwise excellent interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month, Pelley really outdid himself in wonderment, using the catch phrase four times, including in each of his first three questions:

Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): Thank you, Madam Secretary. You are in close coordination with all of the European Union countries, and I wonder how much confidence you have that the European nations are going to be able to create a soft landing for their debt crisis that doesn’t wreck the economy here in the United States?

Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): The stock market is terribly worried about Europe right now. I wonder what your confidence level is?

Scott Pelley (CBS Evening News): The Obama Administration has described Bashar al-Asad as illegitimate, and I wonder if it’s time for him to go?

While the CBS Evening News anchor role doesn't carry the same cultural clout as it did when Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather sat behind the desk, it's still important. Katie Couric certainly amped upped her gravitas when she stepped into the role after a 15-year run on the Today Show, but pulled it off admirably. Undeniably aware of the big shoes he has to fill, Pelley seems to be trying too hard to put a unique signature on the role. Whether the "I wonder" tic is intentional or not, it's getting old, Scott.

– Jon Harmon

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