Anchoring America: “The Lightweights?”

By Brian 

TVNewser contributor Jane reflects on the Vargas/Woodruff announcement:

“God, how depressing!

Musing on the fact that it appears two major networks will soon have
lightweight female anchorpersons succeeding heavyweight male anchors,
and wondering why I find most of today’s female news stars so
unsatisfactory, it occured to me that the nets — and we the viewers — are paying the price for their decades-long obsessive focus on beauty over brains. They do it with men, too, but not nearly to the extent that they’ve done it with women. (Just look at the stable of
model-gorgeous 20-something non-journalist news readers at CNN and CNN
Headline these days!)

The idea that Elizabeth Vargas, for instance, is in any way a worthy or
even reasonable replacement for Peter Jennings is just breath-taking.
She has poise, she’s nice to look at, she lacks irritating mannerisms
and she reads copy well. But if the ABC brass thinks that’s all Peter
Jennings brought to their broadcasts, they’re beyond redemption.

I have absolutely zero sense that Vargas brings any kind of actual
journalistic expertise or in-depth knowledge to any subject of
significance, never mind foreign affairs, which I would argue is the
most critical for the modern anchor. Foreign affairs is where events
and places Americans have little familiarity with suddenly explode into
major news events. Just who do the ABC brass imagine is going to guide
the viewers through those events? It ain’t gonna be Vargas, nor will it
be Couric at CBS. In a crisis, why on earth would I want to watch
someone who knows no more about the subject than I do?

Woodruff might be able to rise to the occasion– maybe a decade from now
if he follows Jennings’s path of unceasing self-education. But there’s
no indication whatsoever that either Vargas or Couric has any such
tendencies. (And it doesn’t bear contemplating the trio replacing ABC’s
other wise man at Nightline.)

I literally cringe at the thought of the day either Vargas or Couric has
to anchor a major breaking-news story, especially one with a significant
foreign component.

This 25-year devoted fan of ABC News has, with great reluctance, now
officially switched to Brian Williams on NBC. He’s got his gaps and
rough patches, but he at least does seem personally seriously dedicated
to the Jennings model.

I only wish there was a woman anchor-in-waiting out there I could pin my
hopes on.”