Talk about timing.
Candy Crowley found out last Wednesday she’s the new anchor of CNN’s Sunday morning public affairs program State of the Union. She got word “right before the State of the Union,” Crowley tells TVNewser. “The President’s State of the Union!”
A fitting coincidence for the veteran political reporter, who joined CNN in 1987. It was public knowledge that Crowley was being considered for the position by network brass — but she says she “did not have a great sense” of whom they might ultimately pick.
With John King leaving SOTU to helm the 7pmET time slot vacated by Lou Dobbs, Crowley told management she was interested in the Sunday job. “I talked to them about it. I said, ‘I would like to do this.'”
But after filling in for King during the holidays — when his pre-taped show was scuttled for a fresh broadcast after the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing — Crowley took a scheduled multi-week vacation to Australia and New Zealand. She decided to enjoy her trip rather than spend time thinking about the pending decision.
Upon Crowley’s return, she was happily surprised to get the nod, but confident that the decades she has spent covering politics have been good preparation. “I do feel like so much of what I’ve done leads to here.”
And so in addition to anchoring each Sunday, Crowley will continue to report during the week. “I am first, last, and always a reporter. And I’m not giving that up…I don’t think you can do a Sunday show without being a reporter. Because then you’d just be showing up on Sundays, asking questions…”
Today’s announcement puts Crowley in rare company — think Meet the Press‘s Martha Rountree, This Week‘s Cokie Roberts, and Face the Nation‘s Lesley Stahl — as one of the few women in television history to have anchored a Sunday morning public affairs program. And when she takes the helm of SOTU next week, Crowley will be the only woman currently anchoring such a broadcast.
“This has struck a chord with women I know, and women I don’t know,” Crowley tells TVNewser, alluding to an avalanche of email she’s received already today.
Her gender, though, wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when she found out she got the job. “I didn’t really think about the ‘woman aspect’ of it, I thought of the ‘journalist aspect’ of it. And that’s what people care about anyway…they just want to learn something and understand something, and have it put there in a way that’s compelling, and I don’t think they care whether it’s a woman that does it or a man who does it…
“In the end, I see myself more as a journalist than as a woman. If I were to describe myself…’mother’ would probably come first, and then I’d say ‘journalist’, and somewhere along the line I’d get to ‘woman’.”
Crowley’s attention is focused now on her first show, just days away. “It’ll be a work in progress,” she says. A SOTU EP is still to be named, and the program will evolve in some ways, to match the style of its new anchor. “Over time, I have no doubt it will change,” Crowley says. “One thing management made really clear was, ‘We’re not looking for you to do John’s show, we’re looking for you to do Candy’s show.'”
As for specifics, “what ‘Candy’s show’ will be, I don’t know!” she says with a laugh.
What Crowley does know is that this new career turn is a happy, if unexpected, development. “This wasn’t on my radar screen. So life is surprisingly wonderful at times.”