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Women of the News

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

When Katie Couric begins anchoring the CBS evening News on September 5th, I'll be among the millions of viewers who are watching something else.

I don't care that Couric will be the first to simulcast the evening news on television and stream live online. That means nothing to me except now CBS is giving us a choice whether to become depressed and fearful watching Couric on television, or on the internet. Thanks guys.

I don't even care that this is gender profiling. So what? And Couric will also become an anchor of CBS News primetime specials and a correspondent on 60 Minutes. The good thing about that last assignment is that maybe she'll replace that other woman correspondent who looks like she has a blonde hamster on top of her head.

There are those who don't mind getting their TV news from a woman, but I am not among them. I find a woman's facial expression, as she delivers the news, to be a form of editorializing. They also have that "Oooohhhh, how dreadful" manner of reading the news off their Teleprompters in reedy little voices, with accompanying raised brows, squints, and rolled eyes. I can get that same effect by visiting my mother.

Where's the objectivity in today's female newscasters? I'd prefer forming my own opinion like a real person, and not a zombie or worse, a "unit," as the government calls us. How about giving the facts without the simpering, whimpering semi-histrionics? How about getting a manly man like Walter Cronkite, or are the days gone when news was delivered by people we believed. Men.

This may sound biased to you, since I'm a woman and I'm speaking against women of the news, but don't come to me with that "sisterhood" stuff. These people are not related to me. They are not my kin. They are not even my kith.

Never mind. I don't limit myself to disliking Katie Couric. When Connie Chung did her version of the news, she was probably more everything-I-don't-like than Couric could ever be. If you want to see what happened to Chung, check out the following video, and tell me you want to hear the news from her: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLY3dz97jyM

Furthermore, it's irritating when they say, "Back to you, Sylvia." Sylvia is not her real name. What'm I crazy to leave myself open for a lawsuit? I just call her Sylvia. Anyway, there's Sylvia, mic in hand, with Baghdad blowing up in the background, trying to sound brave and fearless. Like a man. If you ask me, she's probably somewhere in Hollywood with film of Baghdad blowing up taken from some old movie and projected onto a screen behind her back. That's what I think of women on the news. Besides, I saw "Wag the Dog," and can tell you that there's a movie that rings of truth.

Better yet, rent Buck Henry's 1995 "To Die For," with Nicole Kidman as the very ambitious Suzanne Stone, an aspiring TV personality who'll do anything to get on local TV weather.

And what about men on TV news these days? They're coupled with women. Are they scared of the women or what? They seem to become mentally enfeebled while sitting next to an aggressive women of the news, like they're afraid if they don't let her make all her little editorializing expressions, she'll report him for facial harassment. It may be my imagination but it seems to me their voices are getting higher.

Bottom line -- I don't want the Couric Crowd guiding my opinion. I know what's right and what's wrong and, frankly, I think Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer, the lead character on Fox's hit TV show, "24," should get over to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and get crucial information from prisoners using his Bauer counter-terrorist methods. It seems that our real-life military are no longer permitted to use effective methods without screaming softies like Couric who'll probably soon demand flat-screen TVs for every prisoner and chair a committee to disallow racial profiling of prisoners even if they have bombs strapped to their middle-eastern middles when captured. Perhaps Jack Bauer could truly torment prisoners by forcing them to watch Couric do the evening news.

Just to show you that I'm not as biased as you think against women on the news, I don't like women doing the weather either. For one thing, they seldom take the trouble to find out the correct pronunciation of the place they're reporting on. It would be a rare treat to find a woman on the weather channel who can pronounce "Adirondacks,"" Skuykill River," and "Poughkeepsie." One even mispronounced "Fargo." She said it like "forego." How does one manage to do that?

Maybe we should have TV news delivered by a hard-hitting, squinty-eyed male reporter, Camel cigarette pinched in his tobacco-stained fingers, fedora perched atop his head, eyeglasses slipping halfway down his nose, piles of paper on a messy desk, sleeves rolled up, ready to give us the news, the real, corroborated news and not the kind we get a lot of that's euphemistically referred to as "unconfirmed."

Perhaps I should be grateful to people like Couric and Chung. It gives me an excuse to read a good book.

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand

"A Balloon In Cactus" >
September 7, 2006 column
Email: maggie@maggievanostrand.com

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