Connie Chung: The best (looking) guy for the CBS job

MIKE LITTWIN

May 19, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

The main thing to know about Connie Chung, your soon-to-b CBS nightly news co-anchor, is that she's a babe.

A serious, serious babe.

Now you probably heard what the boys at CBS News (yes, surprisingly, men run the CBS news shop) had to say about why they gave Chung the job.

* It was not because of failing ratings.

* It was not because she's a woman.

* It was because Dan Rather said that he needed more time to do real reporting and/or buy more sweaters and that Chung was, in the words of CBS News President Eric Ober, the "best available guy" to share the job.

You recognize these statements, of course, as lies. I love lies. The bigger the better. I like them Iran-contra size. I love them especially when the cameras are whirring and the person doing the lying knows that you know he's lying through his teeth.

Now, Chung may be a great journalist. In fact, she might very well be the best available guy. I've seen her as an anchor, and she's pretty good. Certainly, she's far superior to our boy Dan.

Tune in one night. After all these years in the anchor desk, Rather's still so stiff he makes Al Gore look like James Brown.

And, obviously, you want to root for Chung's success, given how much she has had to overcome in her life. Well, you try being married to Maury Povich.

But the reason she got the job was simply this: Some 26-year-old dweeb with an MBA from Harvard who sits in front of his computer all day said that demographically speaking -- that's how they speak, demographically and in sound bites -- the newscast needed a woman.

And so it was done. The search began. And when TV people look for a woman, they invariably seek out somebody with, well, a very high babe-osity rating.

You know how it works. I remember sitting in a group of semi-liberated guys watching Sally Thorner on the evening news. Remember her?

"She is hot," one guy says.

"Hot?" I say, shocked. "She's a newscaster. I don't care if she's hot. Is Morley Safer hot? What's hot got to do with it? I want news when I watch the news."

"Foolish boy," he says.

He was right. What he was saying is you're not likely to see a woman anchor who looks too much like Walter Cronkite.

If you watch the news regularly, you know what the standards are. For instance, you almost never see a newswoman with facial hair.

A man can look like Andy Rooney. The woman had better be

Cokie Roberts. Or Connie Chung.

The way it looks, women anchors may become a national trend, much as they have on the local level. I read that NBC was thinking of pairing Katie Couric with Tom Brokaw on its nightly newscast.

And as if anyone missed the point of matching a man with a woman, there was Dan Rather planting a big, wet kiss on Connie Chung's cheek during the announcement that they would work together.

This was a very strange sight. Even your local newspeople, who do that inane happy-speak chatter and yuk it up with weatherpersons, never actually kiss each other. Or even hug. They're just friends you can turn to.

And excuse me, but I never saw McNeil embracing Lehrer or Huntley smooching with Brinkley.

What have we come to?

Not that I have anything against women anchors. In fact, I like the pairing of Rather and Chung as co-anchors so much that I am considering hiring a woman co-columnist myself.

L My ratings are fine, but I've never been one to stand still.

The standards would be fairly high here. I'd be looking for someone very bright, literate, articulate and, of course, with a sense of humor. It wouldn't hurt if she could recite all the words to "Positively Fourth Street" either.

I was thinking, maybe, Sharon Stone.

Cindy Crawford?

I did get some recommendations for other women that, on the surface, seem like great ideas.

Barbara Mikulski. A wonderful choice, but obviously too short.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick. While brilliant, I'm just not sure about chemistry. Chemistry's everything in a partnership.

Bella Abzug. She'd have to lose the hat.

Did somebody mention Michelle Pfeiffer? Why not?

If you have any nominations, feel free to send them in.

Just be sure to attach a photo.

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