The word is that CBS White House ace Lesley Stahl will replace maternity-bound correspondent Meredith Vieira on CBS's "60 Minutes." And Linda Ellerbee, for one, couldn't be happier.
"Sounds like a perfect fit," says Ellerbee, the gutsy NBC Newsie-turned-independent producer. "She's a first-class reporter who has more than earned her stripes. She's got class. She's as tough as Mike Wallace and as hard a worker. It's a wonderful idea."
Vieira, one of five "60 Minutes" correspondents, was dropped by exec producer Don Hewitt two weeks ago because she said she couldn't commit to a full-time schedule in the fall. (Her second child is due in August.) She will remain with the network.
Many feminists have denounced Hewitt, but Ellerbee, the mother of two, endorses his decision. "Meredith is lucky. She lost her show, not her job.
"Frankly, she's saying, 'My children come first now, I can't do this now.' She's right. No one can have it all. They didn't fire her. They said, 'You can have what you want, work part time and have a full salary. You just can't have this show.'"
Ellerbee says Stahl, not Diane Sawyer, should have been "60 Minutes'" first female correspondent in 1984.
"I have nothing against Diane Sawyer, but damn it, Lesley was there first. She had been covering Watergate and doing stakeouts, not working for Richard Nixon. She was being a team player and being good at it. With all the years she had put in, all the pieces were in place for her to be elevated."